Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Lately I have been traveling around on the weekends so I have been hard pressed to be able to set aside some time for this blog.  That and in addition to the trial and error it took on this particular recipe, the month is nearly over and this is only my second post.

This particular recipe is one of the winners in the Cupcake Wars on Food Network.  I do love mint and dark chocolate, but I did not want anything green nor anything artificially flavored.  The real mint did add a slight earthy flavor to these cupcakes.  Also, if you take the flavor too far,then you are getting closer to more of a flavor that is close to toothpaste.  The amount of mint to chocolate flavor is very well balanced.

These cupcakes were a hit with the coworkers.  I was also very happy with the texture of the  cupcakes.  However, please note that the recipe below is in its original state.  Since I had a few issues with the original, my notes at the bottom are very helpful. This recipe makes 1 dz cupcakes.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Food Network

2 eggs
2 cups of light cream
6 tbs of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
2 sprigs of mint
3.5 oz of dark chocolate mint (refrigerated or frozen)

Ingredients/Mint Buttercream
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 lb butter
1/4 cup mint infused cream

Prepare a 1 dz cavity muffin pan by greasing the top edges of the cavities and lining with standard cupcake liners.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Fill a saucepan with the light cream and add the mint sprigs.  Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes and remove.  Set pan aside and leave mint leaves in mixture and let cool.

Add the butter and the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Then beat on medium high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 2 minutes.  Again, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for one minute. Add one egg and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of bowl and add second egg.  Beat again until all is blended. Set aside.

Pour the mint infused cream into a sieve with a bowl underneath.  Discard the mint leaves in the sieve.  In another bowl, sift together salt, baking powder and flour.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Then stir in 1/2 cup of the mint infused cream.  Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and mix until blended.  Pour in another 1/2 cup of mint cream and stir. Reserve the rest of the mint cream for use in the frosting.  Add the last of the flour mixture to the batter and stir until no dry streaks remain.

Take out the chocolate and finely grate using a food processor with a grate attachment.   Fold the grated chocolate into the cupcake batter.  Then evenly fill the lined cavities of the muffin pan, they should be about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Cupcakes should cool in pans for about 5 minutes before being transferred to cooling rack.  Frost when completely cooled.

For the frosting, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the speed on medium high.  Run mixer for a total of 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl at the halfway point.  Then beat in the 1/4 cup of the mint infused cream until all is blended evenly.  Discard the rest of the mint cream.

Sift the confectioners sugar into a medium size bowl.    In 1/2 cup intervals, beat confectioners sugar into butter mixture with the mixer set on medium.  Continue to beat and add confectioners sugar until all is completely smooth.

Then pipe the buttercream frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and serve.

Tips and Notes:

1. I used several types of dairy ratios for the 2 cups of light cream.  Found that 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 1 cup of 2% milk worked best.

2. Baking time in my oven was 20 minutes, so watch the time closely.

3. Original recipe was a little too dry in texture so 2 tsp of oil was added and beat into the batter right after the addition of the eggs.

4. Note that there is only a hint of mint flavor in the icing, but it paired well with the cupcake flavor and was not overpowering.

5. Do not use any type of dark chocolate with a mint filling.  It will not freeze solid, so it does not work for grating the chocolate.  The Divine brand of chocolate has a great solid dark chocolate mint bar.  As you know, the quality of the chocolate used promises the best flavor.

6.  The recipe states garnish with mint leaves.  You can make chocolate leaves with an extra mint chocolate bar.  Even better yet, mint leaves are edible so you can do both.
                             **LAST YEAR: Elixir Wage Cake**



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Midnight Delights

The bite sized treats sure are rampant at the grocers.  Everything is mini, little and bite sized.  Also, there is an advantage to making things in that size.  Bite sized treats are easy to transport and are easy to serve.

These particular morsels contain what I call the magic trio.  They have espresso, dark chocolate and a little bit of Kahlua or coffee liqueur.  Also, I think the addition of the walnuts is a great choice.  The chocolate cookie cup acts as a vessel to hold and support the rich, fudgey filling. This recipe makes about 4 dozen.

Midnight Delights
adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients/Cookie Crust
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter cut into cubes
1/4 cup strong espresso coffee (chilled)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder

12 oz or 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (melted)
2 tbs butter (melted)
2 tsp coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs milk
48 walnut halves( for toppers)

Prepare miniature muffin tins by greasing each cavity.  In a medium size bowl, sift the flour, salt and cocoa together.  Whisk in the sugar.  Then pour into the bowl of a food processor.  Toss in the butter cubes and pulse with steel blade till mixture starts to come together.  Then add the espresso coffee.  Pulse again until the mixture forms a ball of dough.

Sprinkle a flat surface with flour and divide dough into 4 equal pieces.  Take one piece and roll it out to a thickness of  1/8 inch. Using a 2 1/2 inch cutter, cut the dough into 12 disks.  Place each disc in a cavity of the muffin tin, so that each lines the bottom and about 2/3 up the sides of the cavity.  Repeat this process for the rest of the 4 tins.  Place all 4 tins in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to firm up.

While the tins are in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and start on the filling.    In a medium size bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, butter and coffee liqueur.  Then mix in the melted chocolate until all is smooth.  Using a whisk, blend 2 eggs into the batter.  Once completely blended, fold in the walnuts.

Once the chilling time is complete, remove the tins.  Fill each cavity with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the chocolate batter.  Place each tin in oven and bake for 20 minutes. The filling should be puffed and cracked in places when done.  Remove pan and lightly press a walnut into the center of each.

Let bites cool in pan for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Notes and Tips:

1. My end result was too much dough.  I must confess that the filling was not measured out exactly when filling the cavities and the thickness of the dough was not exact either.

2. If you only have one muffin tin, you can bake in batches. Because of the chilling time, the process will take longer if you prepare and bake 1 dz at a time.

                                    ***LAST YEAR: Lemon Butter Fudge**