Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week 2 - Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

My husband looked at me one night last week, mouth stuffed with ganache, and said, "Could you... I mean... would you... what if... mint chocolate chip."  This one's for you, babe.

The cupcake:  moist chocolate cake with mint chips, topped with mint buttercream and a chocolate mint.

I already had a chocolate cake recipe, but I impulsively tried the one from the back of the can of Hershey's cocoa powder. The recipe says, "batter will be thin," but I panicked when I was done mixing it. It was the consistency of a mostly melted milkshake (say that five times fast).  So much for scooping neat little scoops of batter into my cups. I had to pour it, and I was worried.

I worried needlessly. The cake is moist and chocolately and wonderful! Because of how thin the batter was, I did not fold in the mint chips. After the batter was safely nestled inside its paper liners, I sprinkled the chips on top of each cup. The cake baked right up around them.

Here's the recipe:

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • mint chips (or mini chocolate chips)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill muffin trays with paper liners (or grease and flour).
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. Batter will be really, really thin. So thin you'll want to feed it a cheeseburger. Don't worry, it will be fine. 
3.Pour the batter into prepared liners, filling the cups 2/3 full. You can fill them a little more if you want big, overflowing cupcakes. I like mine to sit neatly within the liner, so I fill them 2/3 full.  Right before you put the pans in the oven, sprinkle each cup with about a few mint chips. I used Andes mint chips, available in the baking section, but if these are not available to you, mini chocolate chips would be fine.
4. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Set pans on wire racks. Cool in pans until completely cooled. This keeps them from falling completely apart when you pick them up. 
For the frosting, I added mint extract and green coloring to a basic buttercream recipe. Go easy with the mint flavoring at first... you can add more, but you can't take it away.  You can use your favorite buttercream recipe, or even canned frosting if your conscience attacks when you get out the butter. Use whatever works for you.
Mint Buttercream

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract (or more to taste)

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • green food coloring or gel colors

  • Beat butter until light and fluffy, then add in the sugar. Beat until well mixed, then add the milk and extract. When the frosting is light and spreadable, start adding food coloring until you reach your desired color. I was out of green gel, so I used regular food coloring, about 6 drops.

    Frost your cupcakes after they are completely cool. If they're even a tiny bit warm, the frosting will melt and slide right off. This angers the cupcake gods. Cool your cakes. Pipe on your frosting, and garnish with an Andes Candy or a sprinkle of chips. Eat and enjoy.

    Potential changes to the recipe (or, how to make this recipe easier if the thought of making all this from scratch makes you tremble and cry):

    • You can absolutely use a boxed cake mix for these. I'd suggest a fudge flavor. If you use a thicker cake mix, fold in the chips rather than sprinkling them on top.
    • Use canned frosting and add color and flavor to it. I don't love canned frosting, but it would certainly work.
    • Spread the frosting instead of piping it. If you want to pipe it but don't own a pastry bag, dump the frosting in a large Ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and pipe it with that.
    Now go, and make your family, friends and coworkers happy!

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