Martha Stewart's Almond-Hazelnut Cupcakes with Faux-Bois Toppers

Martha says: "You might want to throw a woodland-themed celebration just to have an excuse to make cupcakes topped with chocolate faux-bois rounds. Faux bois, or imitation woodgrain, is a favorite Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia motif; it can be applied to chocolate using a wood-graining rocker, found at paint-supply stores. Made with ground almonds and hazelnuts and covered with dark chocolate frosting, the cupcakes are also worth serving on their own, without any other embellishments."

I made these cupcakes for a pretty special weekend dinner that included Eric's (Catherine's fiance) parents...Tom and Pat Olson...visiting from Norwich, NY...we had such a great time with them and learned many fun things about Eric! Look out! Now back to the cupcakes...actually, the reviews were mixed...the cupcake turned out to be surprisingly dry. It was better with the dark chocolate frosting and the chocolate toppers...but on its own...sorry to say it was very blah! I think I might need some one-on-one lessons with Martha!

Layla...on the other she is looking at the cupcakes over her shoulder from under the table...she thought they looked great!

One major problem I had was finding the wood-graining tool...grrrrrr...and, when you make the toppers you also need a baking sheet-sized piece of acetate....think about it! There are several steps to both the cupcakes and the toppers, so beware...these takes some time to create.

Recipe (page 277)
For Cupcakes (Makes 16 cupcakes):
1/2 cup whole unblanched almonds, toasted (see page 323)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (have you ever tried to skin a hazelnut?)(see page 323)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
4 large egg whites

1. Make cupcakes: Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a food processor, pulse together almonds and hazelnuts until finely ground (do not overprocess or the nuts will turn into a paste). Into a mixing bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the ground nuts.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating well after each.

3. In another mixing bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In two additions, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

5. To finish, use an offset spatula spread a thin layer of frosting over cupcakes, then transfer remaining frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a larget open-star tip (#821). Pipe a ring of frosting around the perimeter of each cupcake, then place a chocolate disk on top. Decorated cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 1 day in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

Dark Chocolate Frosting (Makes about 5 cups)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month, in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

For toppers: Go to this link on Martha Stewart's web site...there is a really great "how to" there.


  1. I am proud of you for making these-you are right, there are alot of steps here and they aren't easy. I too have had trouble finding the graining tool, so I put these on the backburner for a while. Where did you end up finding yours? They look great-congrats!

  2. They are beautiful! Great job!!

  3. Cupcakes are so much fun to make. I mean I do really hard cooking because i have a San Francisco catering business. I love it when clients ask for catering for their children. It is the best.

  4. Mmmm these look so tasty :) Yumm

  5. i'm currently doing a '52 weeks' photo project. so when i saw 52 cupcakes - i thought it might be a similar idea!

    52 weeks has a topic each wk that we need to snap up a foto of, are you by anychance doing the same with cupcakes??? :)

    these look great!

  6. I had a hard time finding the tool as well, but finally did at Lowe's home improvement store. They are a bit of a challenge to do, but they are cool looking when they are done!

  7. We have something in common and that's the taste..I love it! :)