Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting

What can I say? I like a theme.

To be honest, candy canes aren't really my thing. At least not the peppermint ones. Spearmint? Yes. Berry flavored? Ok. But peppermint? No.

Also chocolate and peppermint. Gag me. I think I'm the only person in America who hates Thin Mint cookies. Seriously, give me any other girl scout cookie, even the boring shortbread ones over Thin Mints any day.

Did I just lose you there? Have you lost all respect for me as a baker? Please don't. I can't help it. I like my chocolate unadulterated. I also like milk chocolate best of all. Not that intensely dark, bitter crap that tastes like chalk. Sorry, but why not get it all out on the table now?

Even though I can't stand it, I know chocolate and peppermint is generally a crowd pleaser, so when I was deciding what to bring to my old office, I thought what better to go with Candy Cane cookies than Candy Cane cupcakes.

Unfortunately, I'm still on the hunt to find the best chocolate cake recipe, and although these cupcakes were good, they weren't quite chocolatey enough for me. The texture was nice and light, but the depth of flavor just wasn't quite there. They almost reminded me more of a chocolate sponge cake than a Devil's Food, and the latter is really what I'm going for.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

2 2/3 cups cake flour
6 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Peppermint Frosting
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
7 Tbsp vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
Crushed candy canes to garnish (optional)

To make the cupcakes-
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake tins with liners and set aside.
2. Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and sour cream. Set both aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Mix until light. Add the eggs slowly, beating at medium speed until fully incorporated.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting-
1. Cream the butter with the paddle attachment until soft. Add the shortening and continue to beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium high speed until very light and fluffy.
3. Add the peppermint extract and mix just to incorporate.
4. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Store the frosted cupcakes in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home


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