Chocolate Mint Cupcakes



Some people are claiming that pie is the new cupcake.  Others say it is the French macaroon.  Dang it.  I always come to the party late, although I doubt anybody would kick me out if I showed up with these.


Just in time for St. Patrick’s day, I present the chocolate mint cupcake.  I’m going out on a limb here to say that this cupcake, just like Jackie O., or girl scout thin mint cookies will never go out of style.  Never.  

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Bake the cupcakes and let cool completely.  Fill with mint ganache and top with frosting.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Cupcakes:
adapted from Annies-eats.com and Smittenkitchen.com, originally published in Gourmet, now on  epicurious.com
1.5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup hot water or hot brewed coffee
1 1/2  cups sugar
1 1/4 cups (5.625 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (this is not a typo)
1 tsp. baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 extra large egg or 2 medium eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
Place the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Pour the hot water (or coffee) over the top and let rest for a minute.  Whisk until smooth.

In a separate bowl combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk or sift together until no lumps remain.

In the bowl of a standing mixer beat the eggs until thick and pale yellow, about 3 or 4 minutes.  In a slow stream, add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs.  Mix until well blended.   Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium just until the flour mixture is incorporated.

Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling each just slightly more than 1/2 full.  Bake about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let rest is the pans for several minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate (chips are fine)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ to ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Place chocolate in a mixing bowl.  Heat cream in microwave just until it comes to a boil.  Immediately pour over the chocolate.  Add extract and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Allow mixture to cool until it is proper piping consistency. 
Fill a pastry bag  (fitted with a round tip) with ganache, push into each cupcake and squirt in a teaspoon or two per cupcake.  It’s difficult to tell how much actually goes in.  I usually stop when the top of the cupcake looks as if it might crack open.
Meringue-style Buttercream

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
pinch table salt
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon
      pieces
½ teaspoon peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
green food coloring
Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water (Or use a double boiler).  Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.
Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy.  At this point the frosting might look like a curdled soupy mess.  Keep mixing.  Once all the butter is incorporated, add the mint extract and a tiny bit of green food coloring.  Increase mixer to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Don’t be surprised if you beat for a while and the frosting looks runny.  Be patient and keep mixing with a careful eye – almost by magic the frosting will firm up and cooperate, sometimes quite suddenly. 
If the final frosting seems too thick, warm the mixer bowl briefly over pan of simmering water.  Place bowl back on mixer and beat on medium-high speed until creamy.

Notes on the recipe:

The cupcake recipe is the same as the one posted for the chocolate raspberry cupcake, only cut in half (hence the strange measurements). The new version includes a mint ganache filling and an AMAZING Swiss meringue-style buttercream.  If you have never made a true buttercream I am begging you to try this one.  There is no substitute.  Just remember to be patient and keep beating. 

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