Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting!

Longest blog post title ever?

Christmas is literally around the corner.  So I wanted to make these cupcakes before it got too late! I had the afternoon to myself and found that the perfect opportunity to turn on a movie (My Best Friend's Wedding was on TBS) and bake and assemble this 3-part cupcake.
I decided to make the cupcake and the frosting minty and leave the ganache chocolate. I've never made a ganache before but it's really easy! With this now, you could make truffles and other assorted choco-delights.

Pre-step (especially for the inexperienced bakers like myself): Take out ALL your eggs, butter, and cream cheese that you will need ~ 1/2 hour before preparation to allow everything to come to room temperature if that is required

Part I: Chocolate Ganache adapted from cupcakeblog.com

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (1/2 cup, I used Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Baking Chunks)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
  • Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge. 
  • Pour cream through strainer over the chocolate. Let chocolate and cream sit for 1 minute then stir until combined. 
  • Add butter and stir until combined. If your butter is not completely melted, you'll have butter chunks in your ganache.
  • Let cool then transfer to the refrigerator to thicken about 30-60 min. Later when we assemble the cupcakes, the cold ganache will be easier to handle.
Part II: The Cupcake adapted from Ina Garten's Choco Ganache Cupcakes
Makes 12-14 cupcakes

1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
11 fluid ounces chocolate syrup (I used Hershey's)
1 tablespoon pure mint extract (the original recipe calls for vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven at 325F.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and mint extract.
Add the flour and mix until just combined (I switched to a rubber spatula here). Do not overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough (that's from Ina's instructions).
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin cups almost to the top (since the cupcakes won't rise that much). Bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Do not overbake. Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly in the pan (you can move them to a cooling rack after 10 min when they've set a bit more).

Standard v. Mini Cupcakes
I just bought a mini cupcake pan and really want to use it but didn't know how long to bake them so I made 12 regular cupcakes and spooned the leftovers into 6 minis which I baked for ~17 minutes (I checked them at 10 and 15 min for doneness). In the end, I liked the minis more (easier to eat??  haha) so I'd recommend that next time and cut the baking time.

Part III: Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
This won't be helpful to you but I kinda winged it. This was enough for 10 cupcakes + the 6 minis. Yes. I said 10 and not 12.  I don't like having excess frosting.

5 oz. room temperature cream cheese
~ 3-4 tablespoons of room temperature unsalted butter
~ 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (I like less sweet frostings so add more to your taste)
1 teaspoon of mint extract (again you can add more to your liking)
Handful of mini candy canes or other peppermint candies

Combine the butter and cream cheese. Whip with a fork or electric mixer until fluffy. Add extract and powdered sugar to taste.

For the crunchy topping (which I highly recommend), I lightly smashed (with my sauce pan) mini candy canes in their wrappers. Then poured them into a bowl. If you like chunkier pieces, don't get carried away with the smashing. I did find that the very fine peppermint pieces which I thought were really cute at first became runny from the red dye after sitting out for a little while on the frosting.

The Assembly
This is a labor intensive but easy step. Remove ganache from fridge. Use a butter knife to score ganache into enough pieces for each cupcake. If ganache gets too warm to handle, just pop back into the fridge for 10-15 min.

After cupcakes have cooled completely, use a sharp paring knife to cut a square going in at a 45 degree angle so that the cut out piece looks like a pyramid.  You might need to use the knife to pry out the piece gently. Fill hole with the cold ganache. Press down slightly. (Sometimes I took out even more cupcake so I could in more ganache).

Take the pyramid cupcake piece, cut off the point and keep the top. Place the top back onto the cupcake to cover the ganache. Press down slightly. If it doesn't fit all the way, it's ok because you can cover it with the frosting.
I recommend cutting all the pieces out first, then filling with ganache, then frosting.
ganache in the hole
cut out cupcake piece, then just the top
with the top back on the cupcake
Frost your cupcakes with the peppermint cream cheese. Sprinkle some crunchy candy cane pieces on top. If the frosting's gotten too warm or melty, pop it back in the fridge for 10 min first.

If you're going to make these for an event, it's best if you frost and top them just before so that the red in the peppermint candies doesn't get runny. Store in the fridge.

How Do They Taste? 
The cupcake was dense and moist but not overly sweet which I liked. I liked that the chocolate ganache had a dark chocolate taste that offset the frosting and the crunchiness of the candy canes added some fun texture!


lavenderpug said...

those look delicious! i love the cupcake wrappers and the peppermint candies. it also looks like a lot of effort. no can do. invite me over next time you make them.

craftywife said...

These look and sound amazing! I've never made ganache either, it sounds so fancy and hard to make, but I'll have to try your tips and make some!

BigAppleNosh said...

These are amazing!! So delish! :)

Jessica said...

Chocolate + Candy canes = AMAZINGNESS.

Justin said...

every yummy holiday post i see is something else awesome with crushed up mint candies on top. i've got the candy canes in my house, but i'm somehow still not convinced to try a recipe myself. but i'm getting close.