Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes have quite a story behind them... Where do I begin!? As you know, I am a floral designer, so the week of Valentine's Day is one of the craziest weeks in the year for me. At the end of the day- Feb 14 that is- I went home totally and thoroughly exhausted after 11 hours of non-stop running (for everybody out there who thinks flower arranging is all fun and games, try doing it on Valentine's Day please:))). Anyway, I get home and I am thinking my looong and exhausting day- and week- is finally over only to find out that actually, there was a lot more drama happening at home while I was completely unawares. Our little 3 year-old independent daughter decided to disappear on her father and grandmother! The day turned into a frantic search, involving the police from two towns, half the neighborhood up in arms looking for the little missing girl, the pastor from our church searching along with my husband, our whole house being turned upside down by the police officers and so on, and so forth. My mother and husband must have been out of their minds, and I can only thank God that they didn't call me at work to tell me what was going on, because I am pretty sure I would have had a nervous break down... Most importantly, after what seemed an eternity to my family but was only about 45 minutes in real time, the little wanderer was discovered in a neighbors' back yard three houses over playing in dirt and mud but realizing she was in trouble (after she saw all the police gathered around). All is well that ends well, they say! Now we have to figure out how to install a low jack on her I guess, in case she decides to take off again like that (I sure hope not!!).

So, these cupcakes were made especially for the police department in our town as a big thank-you for their quick response and invaluable help in finding our roving daughter. My husband delivered them this morning, after I promptly took my pictures for this blog. :)

And after you've heard the dramatic story behind these cupcakes, here is the recipe...

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract or 1 to 2 tsp creme de menthe
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with about 30 cupcake liners (I used green for mine :).

1. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
2. In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gently whisk.
3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the hot water and stir just to combine – scrape up from the bottom to make sure all the flour is incorporated. Batter will be very thin.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 18-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, then take them out onto a cooling rack to complete cooling.

To carry on with the mint chocolate flavor, I made a chocolate mint ganache in which I dipped the cupcakes after they were cool enough to handle.

Chocolate Mint Ganache

6 oz Andes baking chips
1 cup heavy cream

Bring the whipping cream to a boil in a little saucepan. Watch it carefully, because it may boil over. Put the Andes baking chips in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot whipping cream over the Andes chips. Stir a little until the chocolate melts.Dip tops of cupcakes in ganache while it is still melted.

For the frosting, I used my new favorite "magical" frosting, but with a cream cheese and mint twist. It turned out pretty ah-mazing!

Magical Mint Cream Cheese Frosting


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature, cut in pieces
1 tsp mint extract or 2 tsp Creme de Menthe
green food coloring


In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, for me it is usually ready in exactly 7 minutes. It should bubble quite a bit at the end (be careful of the splatters) and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer and cool to room temperature – this is extremely important! If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. (It took my mixture a good 2 hours to come to room temperature and it was smooth sailing from there.) You can also refrigerate the mixture overnight. If you do this, make sure to pull it out in time to let it warm back up to room temperature. If you try to proceed with the rest of the recipe and the mixture is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting properly.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature (it should have no hint of warmth at all!), pop the bowl on your stand mixer and beat the mixture with the vanilla and mint extracts on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter and cream cheese have been fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work its magic. Beat the frosting for 5 minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour, or chill if you want a stiffer consistency for piping. I piped mine without chilling it and it was stiff enough.

And since my cupcakes were made specifically for thank-you gifts, I made little chocolate Thank-you molds from more Andes baking chips and placed on top of the frosting at the end.  And there you have it: Mint Chocolate Cupcakes! It took a few steps to make them, but the end result was soo worth it! I think they will be a great choice for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day too. :)

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