Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tis the Season to Be Minty

Peppermint does for winter what pumpkin spice does for gives it flavor. It was a very cold and snowy Thanksgiving for us when we visited family in Colorado, and all I wanted was a some spiked hot chocolate. Thankfully, my brother pulled through for me and made a delicious hot chocolate and peppermint Schnapps combo. Heaven, I tell you (both the drink and the fact that being the baby of the family means other people will always do stuff for me). It was in that moment that I decided this flavor needed to be made into a dessert of some sort. Mint chocolate is definitely one of my favorites, but peppermint and chocolate just takes things the extra dessert mile. My mom used to be able to find these fantastically amazing chocolates with crushed peppermint in them at Macy's. It was quite literally one of the most enjoyable parts of my annual Christmas pig out. Sadly, they no longer make them, so I was left with a peppermint chocolatey void in my life and/or mouth. I couldn't face a second Christmas in a row without them, and thus, the peppermint chocolate cupcake with peppermint butter cream frosting and crushed peppermint topped cupcake was born. I really, really like peppermint, y'all. I always failed at turning my candy canes into fake vampire or walrus teeth like every other normal child does because I could never resist just chomping the damn things into pieces and eating them as fast as possible. Most people savor a candy cane for like an hour; I'm done with one in about 43 seconds.
Let me tell you about how amazing my house smelled after making these.
Winter Wonderland has a smell, and it is peppermint chocolate cupcakes. Drool factor is a 10 out of 10. We had a small gathering last night to play Cards Against Humanity and mini beer pong, and I wasn't planning on serving these up but instead saving them for myself because I am both greedy and a glutton (just checking those Seven Deadly Sins right off the list). I put these in my cake safe and placed them on top of the fridge. I sorta figured that was the international symbol for "off limits," but considering most of our friends (and my husband) are extremely tall, this was like precisely at eye-level for practically everyone except me. There was oogling, and quite a few people managed to snake a cupcake. When you come to my house, it is pretty much assumed there will be dessert, so this was my mistake really. But I channeled my inner-Grinch and ended up hiding them so I would actually get to eat one before they all disappeared. Don't look at me like that...the recipe only makes 12, and I have to be able to taste test my work so I can bring you these delightfully insightful blogs every week after all. So let me give you the recipe for these delicious cupcakes so you, too, can also hide dessert from the people you love. Tis the season to be selfish, fa la la la la la la la greed.
I know, looks like a lot, but they are so easy!
I found and adapted this recipe to make things even peppermintier. Not a real word, but fun to say. So gather up:
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 TBS of flour
  • 3/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBS of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup room temp butter
  • 1 room temp egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  •  2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp espresso powder dissolved into 1/2 cup of boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350, and start by mixing together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl. In a stand mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the egg and extracts and mix well. Add in half the dry mix and all of the buttermilk and blend well. Add in the other half of the dry mix and the espresso and blend well. Don't worry fellow coffee-haters, this tastes absolutely nothing like coffee, but instead the espresso gives the chocolate a nice, dark taste.
Throw the batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes. Your house will begin to smell like what dreams are made of.
Once done, place on a cooling rack to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and continue to allow them to come to room temp. Drool all over yourself due to the smell.
Christmas isn't really my thing. I hate Christmas music, I hate red and green in combination, and I really, really hate sappy Christmas movies (exception being A Christmas Story, because leg lamp). I will say though that Christmas is a joy when it comes to baking. My house smells amazing for the entire month of December, but if I could bottle the smell that these cupcakes filled my house with and sell it, I would be a very, very rich Scrooge.
There's a peppermintception occurring with this frosting.
Once the cupcakes are cooled and you're nearing your ability to resist eating all 12 at once, make the peppermint butter cream frosting:
  • 1 cup of room temp butter
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  •  5 TBS of the forgot-to-be-pictured heavy cream or milk
  • Handful of crushed peppermint candy canes/peppermint candies to top frosting with
Cream the butter until fluffy and then add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, the vanilla, the peppermint, and 2 TBS of heavy cream and blend. Add in another  2 cups of sugar and 2 TBS of cream and mix well. Add the final cup of sugar and TBS of cream and finish blending. Now that I think about it, you could probably omit the peppermint extract and change one or two TBS of heavy cream to peppermint Schnapps and make this frosting boozy. Clearly I'm going to have to make these cupcakes again to try that because apparently like most of my best ideas, this one came far too late in the game. Sadness, thy name is Kate.
Not blood. Promise.
To get the cool two-toned effect, paint a thick line of red gel frosting dye on each side of the piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice (I used one bag with a 2D for half and another bag with a 1M for the rest because I am an adult and I do what I want). Carefully load up the bag with frosting, and it will look something like this:
Why are my wrists so veiny? Am I dying?
 Now pipe away! I did a traditional swirl like so:
Okay, this kinda gives me the Christmas spirit. I get's nice to feel full of joy and hope, but I always feel that way when dessert is involved. Unless it's flan, and then you've filled me with rage and scientific questions about its consistency somehow being edible.
Aren't these gorgeous? Aren't you surprised I can take an accidentally artsy photo on occasion? Me too. Don't forget to add the peppermint candies on top when you're done applauding my creativity.
I am super happy to report that these taste even better than they smell. It isn't easy being a Grinch (lies), but I had to do it in the name of blogging (also lies). Although my heart did not grow three sizes upon consumption, my butt may very well have. These definitely aren't low on calories, but anything crammed with this much chocolate and peppermint simply is worth that extra hundred sit ups or five miles of jogging...try eating them while working out and it's a two-fer! I'm always here to offer you reasonable solutions to life's simplest of problems. I am a blogger with heart. A heart that is probably loaded with cupcake remnants and fried chicken. All I want for Christmas is to be able to eat anything I want without gaining an ounce. Is that so hard, Santa? If you can make reindeer fly, I feel like this is a pretty simple request. While I continue to place my faith in a fat, bearded man who really appears to enjoy his own fair share of cupcakes, I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. We're off to gallivant in Tahoe soon and then host family for Christmas, so I'll be back with some more delicious minty recipes soon. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Just load these up in a stocking, and you're set on gift giving until next year...we wish you a merry cupcake and a happy cheat day!

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