Sunday, October 12, 2014

After Eight Cupcakes

The so called "after dinner mint" in the form of creme de mint and dark chocolate has always been just a tease to me.  At restaurants, I find myself looking at the little green foiled morsels and passing on getting one.  My thought has been....let's not get started on those because one does not satisfy.  As far as the red/white peppermints, I can deal with one of those.  A simple breath freshener.

Since most restaurants are not creating chocolate mint desserts nor do they have any plans to, time to get to work in the kitchen!  These cupcakes are all about those extra components.  You have the chocolate mint cake part, which is tasty enough to stand alone.  Moving on, you will find the baked in goodness of cream de mint/chocolate chips studded on top.  Then, the slight crunch from the minty butter cream frosting that supports a pool of ganache.   Yum..but wait, (l almost forgot)- the cupcake is finalized by floating a mini peppermint patty on top.  

This recipe makes about 1 dozen cupcakes. The original instructions for creating the cupcakes are stated below, however the tweaks I enlisted for success are at the end. After reading this post all the ways through, the other initial step would be to have all your ingredients out and ready for use.

After Eight Cupcakes
adapted from Cupcakes Galore

3/4 stick or 6 tbs butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup half and half 
Mint extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup miniature chocolate mint chips

Ingredients/ Frosting
2 tbs milk
Mint extract
1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup butter(cubed and at room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring (optional) 

2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz dark chocolate
1 dz mini peppermint patties

Prepare a one dozen cavity muffin tin by greasing the upper edge of the cavities and lining with cupcake papers.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder.  Set aside.  Place butter and sugar in another bowl and beat for two minutes on medium high or until fluffy. Add in one egg and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat with the second egg.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in sifted ingredients and half and half in increments.  Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 cup of half and half and repeat, ending with the last 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.  Stir in a few drops of mint extract.

Fill cupcake papers evenly with batter.  Sprinkle the top of each cavity of batter with the chocolate mint chips.  Place muffin tin in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, turning pan at the halfway point. Cupcakes are done when tester comes out clean.

Let cupcakes rest in pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, add the butter to a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix with a wooden spoon.  Continue to add 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and stirring until all is blended together.  Then stir in the milk and mint extract.  Lastly, add a few drops of green food coloring if desired. Spread frosting evenly on top of cooled cupcakes.  Let sit in a cool place until the frosting has hardened.

For the ganache, set up a double boiler and let it come to a simmer.  Then add chocolate and cream to the top pot.  Once the chocolate is completely melted and the cream is mixed in, remove from heat.   Let the ganache cool for about 20 minutes.  Then dip the tops of the cupcake in the chocolate, making sure that there will still be a frosting border around the edge of the cupcake.  Lastly, top each with a miniature chocolate mint patty.  Once the chocolate has completely set up, they are ready to serve.

Tips and Notes:

1. To make sure the mint flavor is easily distributed in the batter and frosting, mix it with the cream or milk instead of adding separately.

2. Sift the powdered sugar into the batter, it will eliminate issues with lumps in the frosting.

3. For a better presentation, use the back of a spoon dipped in water and make well in the center of the frosting on the cupcake, then spoon the ganache into the well.

4. Dip the tops of the peppermint patties in the ganache before putting on top for a more blended look of the two.

5. The amount of frosting was spot on, however, due to the method change in topping the cupcakes with ganache, I ended up with extra.  The rule is you can always make more, but you cannot go back and separate your mixture into its original state, so start with 1/2 the recipe of the ganache.  That would be 1/4 cup and one tablespoon or 2.5 oz of dark chocolate and 1/3 cup of heavy cream.

6. No need to buy all the separate types of dairy.  Skip the half and half and use a mixture of 1/3 cup of heavy cream and 1/3 cup of milk in your cupcake batter.
                            **LAST YEAR:Pineapple Coconut Squares**