Saturday, March 13, 2010
Monday afternoon I was checking our local paper online for some information about a restaurant that we heard was possibly closing when I stumbled upon an article about a cupcake challenge that had been held at the restaurant this past summer. Who can resist a cupcake challenge? Not me, so I researched the contact person and sent off an email inquiring if their group was still holding challenges. Sure enough, I got an email back confirming that not only were they still hosting challenges but that the monthly challenge was that very evening. Well, as I said earlier, I cannot resist a challenge so I inquired further as to whether it would be too late for me to participate. After getting the green light from my husband and the affirmative that I could indeed still enter I frantically started searching for the perfect cupcake recipe for my entry. The theme, Ireland. What is more perfect for Ireland than green? What goes with green? Mint. What goes with mint? Chocolate! And that is how the search for Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes with Swiss Mint Meringue Buttercream was born.
I have to confess that I did not win the challenge. Sadly, I did not even come in the top three. However, my achievement was still sweet to me because I not only used a recipe that I had never made before, for both the cupcakes and frosting, but I had to wait to pick up a few necessary ingredients until after naptime and I still managed to whip up a double batch of cupcakes resulting in over 75 mini cupcakes and one regular sized while also preparing my display in just under 3 hours. Whew!
We won't tell anyone that I had to put my cupcakes in the freezer to cool them enough to frost them. We won't tell anyone that I was sitting in the backseat trying to pipe buttercream onto my little cupcakes and then sprinkle them with crushed mints while my husband was frantically trying to get us there on time. Finally, we won't tell anyone that my three year old son seems to have an aversion to sugar. He would rather have a tortilla than a fresh baked cupcake. I guess steering him away from sugar for his first few years is now reaping its benefits, but I digress.
For more information on the local Iron Cupcake challenge you can go here. Enjoy!
One trick I've learned for filling mini muffins and cupcakes is to fold the edges of a plastic bag (quart freezer works best because it is big enough and thick enough), set the bag in a small cup or bowl, and then pour or spoon the batter into the bag. You then seal it and snip a corner of the bag for whatever size hole you need for squirting the batter or frosting. It makes fairly evenly sized cakes and it is usually less messy. Also, this cupcake is a bit dense (you can see that in the picture) so make sure you don't overbake it. I didn't overbake and mine still were a little dry.
Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcakes
Source: Taste and Tell and How to Eat a Cupcake
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup chocolate milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 (6 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
chocolate garnish (jimmies, Andes baking mints, chocolate shavings)
Preheat oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat the melted chocolate into the butter mixture. Add the eggs, peppermint extract, and chocolate milk. Beat until creamy.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.
Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and beat until blended - do not over beat. With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.
Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 - 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes (regular size cupcakes) or 10-12 minutes (mini cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan. Frost with desired frosting. Sprinkle with chocolate garnish.
Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes about 3 cups
3 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees).
Pour heated egg mixture into a clean bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes. (It's very important to beat it for the whole 6 minutes.)
Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears soupy or separated after all butter has been added, beat on medium high speed until smooth again, 3-5 minutes more.)
Beat in all extracts. Reduce speed to low; beat 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.