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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesdays with... Mint Chocolate Cupcakes?

I took one look at this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe (Brioche Raisin Snails) and realized that I had enough on my plate this weekend (namely taxes, taxes, and more taxes) so it was a good time to take a week off. I thought, instead, that I would find a simple plain white cupcake recipe with some sort of green filling and frosting to share with friends for St. Patrick's Day. I stumbled upon (hmm, I've been doing a lot of that lately) this recipe for Mint Chocolate Cupcakes. Usually, chocolate doesn't call to me, but MINT chocolate... now we're talkin'!

I must have been channeling Dorie Greenspan anyway on these, because I ended up with some problems, as I typically do when working on the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. The TWD recipes seem to give me problems simply because they get me to do techniques and make things that I never would otherwise do... so the problems are actually a good thing - I'm learning! For these cupcakes, the first was the amount of batter... supposed to make 24 cupcakes; I ended up with 36 cupcakes (3-6!!). Let's take it batch by batch...

First batch of 12: I was very excited about my little cupcakes. The batter looked heavenly, and I checked in on these babies a few times. I think I should not have done that! By the time the 25 min was up, they had risen, then fallen. I took them out, made sure they were done (they were) and wondered what the heck I'd done wrong. Obvious to me, there was too much batter in the cups. So I moved on to batch #2 with that in mind...

Veritable cupcake disaster area

Second batch of 12: I put less in the cups, which seems to help. They were still tough to get out of the pan, as the top was very fragile, almost like a meringue/macaroon. I went back to the website... sure enough, hers were beautifully risen. I started going through the comments and came to find out that at least I'm not the only one! Others had similar issues, so I read through their brainstorming session.

Escaped with minor damage

~Oven not the right temperature... well I've gone through great pains to get that right, so that's not it.
~Baking powder too old... if so, there's nothing I can do about that now, so what else is there?
~Cupcakes aren't done... I tested, they were done.
~Don't open the door for at least 15 minutes... OOPS.
Since that was really my only saving grace for batch #3, I gave it a shot.

Third batch of 12: I was very careful to add just enough batter to the cups (I was using a 1/8 cup measure, about one heaping scoop each). I put them in the oven and didn't even look at them through the window until 25 min later when they were done. They still weren't as pretty as they should be, but at least they'd be presentable to friends. Given the plight I'd just been through, and the fragile nature of the top, I decided to skip the ganache filling (another project for another day).

Next task to tackle: Buttercream frosting.
Frosting in general is just a bad idea in my kitchen. I never seem to get it right. In the past, I've had problems with funny tasting powdered sugar. So now, any batch of frosting starts with a new bag or box. I decided to make a little less frosting than called for, since I had less cupcakes to frost and didn't plan on using as much as she did. I had just enough to frost 16 cupcakes - perfect for sharing (the remainder are frozen, awaiting some divine inspiration).

I didn't love the buttercream, so I'll have to do some more digging and find some new frosting recipes. The cupcake part was pretty good, even for my non-chocolate loving self. My friends loved them (though I am starting to wonder if they would even tell me if they didn't like something... you know, don't bite the hand that feeds you?). In the hands of others, this is probably a fantastic recipe. Someday I will come back and tackle it again, but in the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy hearing about my cupcake trials and tribulations. :-)

Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cocao
3 sticks butter
2-1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

1. chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.

2. add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.

3. remove from heat and stir in sugar. let mixture cool for 10 minutes.

4. beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.

5. add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each.

6. sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into the mixture and mix until blended.

7. scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate-Mint Ganache
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

1. chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.

2. heat cream and 1/4 cup mint until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream through strainer, over the chocolate.

3. let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.

4. add butter and the remaining teaspoon of chopped mint and stir until combined.

5. let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Mint Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon all natural peppermint extract

1. beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl.

2. add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract, beat until combined.

3. add more powdered sugar as needed to get piping consistency.

Note: I tried to keep the mint flavor subtle and not too overpowering. I recommend starting on the light side with 1/8 teaspoon or less and tasting to get the flavor you want.

1. stuff the cupcakes with ganache using the cone method (cut out a cone shape from the top, cut off the pointy cone part, stuff the whole with filling, then put the top back on)

2. frost them.

3. top with something green (if you want), like a mint leaf, green candy, or whatever you fancy.

1 comment:

Karina said...

The cupcakes look great! There's nothing like a little frosting to cover up unrisen tops. The problem you've had with powdered sugar might be that you're tasting the corn starch. You might try using glazing sugar instead, which doesn't have corn starch in it. Sorry you didn't get around to the brioche snails (they were delish!) but good luck getting everything done this week and we'll see you next week!