For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake or muffin pan with 24 standard cupcake liners.
Sift the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a whisk attachment. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, soft butter, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and whisk until combined. Add the wet mixture in three additions to the dry mixture on medium speed, scraping after each addition. In another separate bowl, whisk the cocoa and 2 1/2 cups hot water until the cocoa is fully dissolved. Add to the cake batter and whisk until the mixture is fully incorporated.
Fill the liners three-quarters full (2 ounces) with batter and bake until golden brown and baked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the nut crunch: In a medium bowl, combine the melted milk chocolate with the feuilletine, praline paste, macadamia nuts and salt. Stir to combine.
To assemble: Cut a small hole in the middle of each chocolate cupcake and fill with the milk chocolate mac nut crunch. Pipe the Vanilla Bean Frosting on the cupcakes with a plain tip. Add a broken piece of the Caramel Almond Paper and sprinkle with the chopped macadamia nuts, if using.
Temper the dark chocolate and dip the whole macadamia nuts in it.
Temper the white chocolate and pipe a small amount onto parchment, using a spatula to spread and form into half clamshell shapes. Stick two halves into the frosting to open up like a clam, and then place a chocolate covered mac nut in the center.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
In medium saucepot, bring the milk and vanilla beans to a boil. Using a whisk, continuously stir in the flour until the mixture becomes thick and the flour is cooked out. Spread the hot milk mixture onto a sheet pan and top with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until fully cooled, about 20 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and vanilla for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and cream for an additional 5 minutes. Slowly add the cooled milk mixture and cream for 3 minutes until the frosting becomes white, light and fluffy. Put the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saucepot, heat up the sugar, stirring continuously until caramelized and golden amber in color. Add in the almonds and stir until completely coated. Pour into a thin layer onto a silicone baking mat and let cool completely.
In a food processor, add the cooled caramel nut mix and grind into a fine powder. Using a sifter, lightly sprinkle into a thin layer on a silicone baking mat. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely before breaking into pieces and using.
Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Franz, Cupcake Wars, 2011