Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes

Recipe Review: Peppermint and Chocolate are the perfect combination for a Holiday treat!

Christmas is here! I've been in total holiday melt down mode ever since Thanksgiving. I had the amazing opportunity to pick up some shifts at my old job throughout November and December. The extra cash has basically made Christmas possible this year- but boy am I worn out. I can't wait till Christmas Eve when my parents get in, (and I have four whole days off from work to relax!) I haven't really had much time to spend in the kitchen, and have been eating way too many meals at the mall food court. Yuck. I can't wait till all the craziness is over and I can get back to home cooking. Christmas will be a nice break to spend time with family, and my family loves food- so I'm sure it will be filled with lots of great meals!

I did manage (I'm still not really sure how) to whip up some treats to bring in to share at work. These are one bowl chocolate cupcakes. (Even so I seem to find a way to make a huge mess in the kitchen.) The batter is too thin to really hold up chocolate chips mixed in so I sprinkle a bunch on top. I whipped up some peppermint cream cheese butter cream frosting, and swirled in some red gel color before I piped on the frosting using a closed star tip. I also sprinkled on some crushed up candy cane bits (I got them at crate & barrel since I was short on time and didn't want to make a bigger mess in the kitchen by smashing the candy canes myself)

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart
yield: 18-24 cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flower
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups mini semi sweet morsels

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, suga,r baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Combine milk and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.* Add eggs, warm water, milk & vinegar mixture, sour cream, oil and vanilla to bowl and mix well until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom of the bowl to ensure batter is well mixed. Sprinkle 1/2 of chocolate chips on top of batter. (They will naturally sink because this batter is so thin. Don't stir them or they will all fall to the bottom.)

Pour batter into cups, filling 2/3rds full. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mini morsels on top. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting. This recipe tends to rise a lot so make sure to leave about 3/4 of an inch of room in your cupcake pan.

*Note: If you prefer you can skip this step by buying buttermilk

Peppermint Cream Cheese Butter Cream Frosting
yield: enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes

8oz cream cheese softened (but not hot)
2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp
8 cups of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
peppermint extract to taste

Beat the cream cheese and butter in bowl of stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar a little at a time and increase speed. If mixture becomes too thick use milk to thin. Add peppermint extract 1/2 tsp at a time until desired taste is reached.

I learned from the first time making this frosting that the peppermint extract is really strong!! When I made Kevin's birthday cupcakes the peppermint scent hit you the second you walked into the kitchen. This time I was a little more careful. Also I think the cream cheese really makes a nice flavor combination with the peppermint so that its not just straight up sugar.

I doubt that I'll get another post up before the 25th so Merry Christmas! -Love Christie

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