Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes are gifts from the gods.

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Cupcakes:

2 cups flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 cup hot water

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup toasted,  skin removed, finely chopped hazelnuts

Hazelnut Ganache:

6 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 lb. butter

1 cup hazelnut spread with cocoa

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted , skin removed, hazelnuts

24 hazelnut bon bons

Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans to make 24 cupcakes, set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In a small bowl stir until well combined the cocoa and hot water, set aside. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture and 1/2 the cocoa mixture. Continue until all dry and cocoa ingredients are blended. Stir in the chopped nuts. Scoop into 24 liners and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool 5 minutes in pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled , using an apple corer, core out the center of each cupcake.

Ganache:

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat on medium low until completely melted and smooth, stirring often. Place the mixture into a pitcher and pour ganache into each core part of the cupcakes. Place filled cupcakes in refrigerator to firm up. Once the cupcakes filling is firm remove from refrigerator. With the remaining cooled room temperature ganache , place in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat until mixture begins to lighten and of a consistency to pipe. Place whipped ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Swirl on whipped ganache onto each top of cupcake. Sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped hazelnuts and place a hazelnut bon bon on top. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring cupcake to room temperature before eating.

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