Cupcake Series: Peppermint Cocoa Cupcakes

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Hello everyone!

It’s the very last post of 2016! Goodness, this is going to be a lot of weeks of momentous postings. Last week was the big five-oh, this week is the end of our annual trip around the sun, next week is the first post of the new year, and the week after that will be the official one year anniversary of this blog!

(Speaking of weeks, how exciting is it that on December 31st, we get to say for the first time in probably a lot of years, “See you tomorrow/next week/next month/next year!” and be right on all accounts?)

And while the popular media has been spending an awful lot of time calling 2016 the worst year ever (RIP Princess Leia and Professor Snape), there’s still quite a lot to be grateful about. The ozone hole is shrinking, the National Park Service turned 100 years old, more fluffy baby panda bears are being born than ever before, and let’s not forget that there’s a brand new Disney princess with the absolute cutest sidekick (shout to the fam for the new addition to the stuffed animal collection). As for me, I took the MCAT for the last (and first, but more importantly, last) time, saw Vienna, and started sharing my dessert-making misadventures with all of you! Our past year has had its ups and downs, and here’s to more ups than downs in the year to come.

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On a less New Years-y note, what with cupcake week being the last week of the month, and therefore after Christmas, peppermint is probably the last thing on your mind this week. But really, what is December without gratuitous amounts of peppermint hot cocoa?

(I mean, unless you prefer spicy hot cocoa, which is a totally acceptable, albeit less festive alternative.)

Fortunately, Christmas doesn’t technically end until January 6! Yeah, turns out Christmas Day is only the first of the 12 days of Christmas, the last of which doesn’t come around until all the way in the new year. So keep lighting your lights and enjoying your candy canes come Boxing Day (or, I guess, “Christmas Day, obs.” if you’re not Canadian) because Christmas isn’t over yet!

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All justification aside, peppermint cocoa cupcakes are basically the perfect way to wrap up your holiday season and use up the rest of those pesky candy canes. Who actually eats 12 candy canes, let alone 24? Especially the sad ones packed in the sides of the box which are inevitably shattered somewhere along the curve of the candy cane, rendering the whole cane-shaped bit moot. Instead, put their pre-crushed state of being to good use by sprinkling them over top of delicious chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy whipped cream and ribbons of chocolate ganache.

So if you’re looking for the perfect snack to enjoy for the last holiday parties of the year (or one last indulgence to enjoy while adding “eat healthier” to the new years’ resolutions list), here is the perfect recipe for you. Hope you enjoy!

Happy last week of 2016,
Anne

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Peppermint Cocoa Cupcake

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcake:
150 g (1 1/4 cup) flour
63 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
7 tbs butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 3 tbs skim milk
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbs vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbs granulated sugar

Chocolate Ganache:
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

To Serve:
Crushed candy canes

Directions:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving in 15 second increments and stirring in between. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk.
  5. Beat together the butter and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved, then beat in the eggs and egg yolks until fully incorporated. Add the coffee milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract and continue beating the mixture.
  6. Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to comfortably touch but still warm enough to remain melted, slowly add to the egg mixture while mixing. Continue to beat until well mixed.
  7. Pour the sifted flour mixture into the liquid ingredients. Gently stir in one direction until the ingredients are just combined.
    Tip: Under-mixing is better than over-mixing in this case. A few small (~1/8″ diameter) stray clumps of flour shouldn’t be a problem!
  8. Fill your cupcake liners a little over halfway with cupcake batter. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of the cupcake comes out with only a few dry crumbs attached.
  9. Set aside to cool before frosting!

Whipped Cream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whip together the cream and sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. At this point, when you lift out the beaters, you should see sharp peaks that do not curl over.
  2. Load the whipped cream into a piping bag with a closed star tip (I used the Wilton 2D). Set aside for assembly!

Chocolate Ganache:

  1. In the microwave, melt together the chocolate and cream in 10 second intervals, stirring in between until the chocolate is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly before assembly!

Assembly:

  1. Load the whipped cream into a piping bag with a large closed star tip ( and pipe in a large spiral from the outside into the center of each cupcake.
  2. Drizzle on the warm chocolate garnish with a small spoon.
  3. Top with a sprinkle of crushed candy canes and enjoy!

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