What's your stance on peppermint? Love it? Can't stand it? Or somewhere in between? I really like peppermint, especially with chocolate, but I'm peculiar about it. I could care less about simple circular peppermints and candy canes, but I love peppermint mochas, peppermint patties, peppermint lattes, and soft peppermints.
What brings up all this talk of peppermint, you might ask? Well, I decided to offer my services making a ton of desserts for a holiday party this year, which ended up being a bit more of a task then I may have anticipated. I actually had a blast doing it, but it took a lot of careful planning. Just picking what I wanted to make was complicated, because I didn't want to choose something necessarily "typical" or "boring". I also wanted the desserts to be holiday-oriented. One of the things I finally came up with was Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes. I eventually realized that it would be better if things were bite-sized, which explains the mini size of these cupcakes. I've already said at least once that I don't understand the whole "mini" craze. I admit, I'm sort of starting to get it... but not really ;)
For the cupcake recipe, I started with the Chocolate Cupcakes I posted a while ago and adjusted it a bit. I thought about going with a brand new recipe, but I'm such a picky cupcake eater and I love this recipe so much that I decided there was no reason. The cupcakes are so moist, with a divine ganache filling and the lightest, best ever frosting. There's just the right amount of peppermint in the cupcakes and the frosting to make the perfect combination of peppermint and chocolate without being overly peppermint-y. With the changes, the recipe is still amazing; a surefire winner even for those who don't like cupcakes.
By the way, this was my first time using a decorating bag, and yes, I had a bit of a hard time figuring out how that thing worked, but hey, there's a first time for everything, right?
Mini Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2010
(makes about 34 mini cupcakes)
3 tablespoons milk
1 ½ tablespoons butter
⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, chopped
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
½ cup dark chocolate chips, chopped
⅓ cup cocoa (preferably dark, dutch-processed)
¾ cup hot coffee
¾ cup bread flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
3/6 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
18 tablespoons butter, softened (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon peppermint (add more to taste)
Oven Temperature: 350 F
Note: Parts of this recipe call for refrigeration. If you find that you’re at a certain step and can’t move on because something isn’t cool enough, just stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process. Try not to let anything get too frozen, though (that happened to me with the ganache). Also, you can make these as 12 regularly sized cupcakes, but you'll want to make about ⅔ of the frosting.
Begin with the cupcakes:
1.Line or grease 34 mini cupcake cups.
2. Add the chopped chocolate and cocoa to a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee over this mixture. Whisk the ingredients until smooth, and place the bowl into the refrigerator to cool completely (20-30 minutes).
Make the ganache filling:
1. Place the cold butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds. Your goal is to get the butter melted into the milk, so after microwaving, stir to make sure the two ingredients are combined.
2. Add the chopped chocolate and confectioner’s sugar to the bowl and whisk together. The mixture should be warm and the chocolate should melt. If you need to, stick the bowl in the microwave again to heat the mixture more. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator until just chilled, no longer than 3o minutes.
Continue with the cupcakes:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together, the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Remove the cooled coffee/chocolate mixture from the fridge and add the olive oil, eggs, vinegar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract, whisking until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to this mixture and again, whisk until smooth.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling about ¾ of the way with batter. Add the chilled chocolate ganache by rounded teaspoons on top of the batter for each cup.
4. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 17-19 minutes. They should be rather firm to the touch when they are finished. Allow them to cool for at least 10 minutes before moving a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting:
1. Place a small saucepan filled halfway with water over the stove, and allow to heat until simmering. Meanwhile, add the sugar, egg whites, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (no need to mix). Place this bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk the mixture for about 2-4 minutes, until it is slightly thicker and foamy.
2. Remove the bowl from the heat and, using the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on highest speed until the mixture is the consistency of shaving cream and has cooled slightly, 1-3 minutes. Add the softened butter a tablespoon (or so) at a time, and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Add in the peppermint extract and and beat, adding more extract to taste.
3. Frost the cupcakes once cooled.