Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I know it isn’t anywhere near Girl Scout cookie season (not that I can order them from across the Atlantic anyway), but for some reason I got to thinking about thin mints this week. No idea why; perhaps it was because it was ridiculously hot outside and I was opening the freezer a lot and seeing a box stored away in the bottom drawer. One single box that one of my most amazing friends sent all the way from Texas (thanks Frank!) a few months ago.

However, a scorching Sunday afternoon did not seem special enough to eat the last sleeve of thin mints, but I was still craving that flavor and I still needed to get my weekend baking done. What resulted was these mint chocolate cupcakes – an adaptation of an earlier recipe I’d had but found the mint to be way overpowering.

It was a bit of a race against time to get these done, as the heat was making the butter in the frosting go very soft very quickly, so I was unable to do my usual fancy piping. Despite their more humble appearance, they were delicious; chocolate-y minty cupcakes with minty buttercream frosting topped with a chocolate mint.  You can’t beat it!

Each batch makes between 12 and 14 cupcakes, depending on how much you fill your pan.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 7 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
For the frosting:
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (57 grams) butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring
  • Chocolate mints, such as Andes or After Eights for decorating

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; then set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix together the egg, milk, oil, peppermint, and vanilla. With your electric mixer on medium, slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and beat for about 30 seconds.

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to mix for another minute or so, then add in the boiling water and stir to combine the last bits of ingredients.

4. Fill each of your cupcake liners about 3/4 full, then place in the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing them to cool completely on your cooling racks before frosting.

5. To make the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter in your mixer until combined. Then add in the cream, vanilla, peppermint, and salt. Whisk on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. (Which is best achieved when it’s not a million degrees outside, or if you have air conditioning.) Finally, mix in the green food coloring until you achieve the color that you want.

6. Transfer your frosting to a piping back and pipe onto the cupcakes as you’d like. Top each cupcake with half of a chocolate mint to add a finishing touch!

Coca Cola Cupcakes

Ben had purchased a bottle of Coke for the weekend, as we thought a friend as joining us for dinner. Turns out he had to cancel, and since I’ve been trying to be really good about not drinking soda I had to find a way to use up a good bit of it. Then I remembered when I made these cupcakes a few years ago and I set out on making them again, only better.

For the frosting on these, I swirled a mix of cherry and vanilla buttercream so that I ended up with two separate colors. One day I’ll do a tutorial on it, but for now I’d suggest Google. But these will taste just as good with only one flavor of frosting!

Big thanks to A Cozy Kitchen for the cake recipe. These tasted amazing, especially with the Coke glaze and frosting on top.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2  eggs
For the glaze:
These measurements are approximate, because I just do these by feel/consistency.
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Coca-Cola
For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened (you want it just a tiny bit firm still so that the icing will be stiffer for piping)
  • 4 cups icing sugar (sifted)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325° F (approx 160°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. Stir the butter, cocoa powder, and Coca-Cola in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, then whisk in the sugars until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In a small bowl, beat the two eggs, then whisk them into the cooled chocolate mixture.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture to the large bowl with your flour mixture, then gently fold it in. The batter should still have a few lumps in it – but that’s okay as long as everything is mixed together.

5. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each of your prepared cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with the Coca-Cola to get a thick, but runny icing (similar to the consistency I used for my cinnamon buns). Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the tops of the cupcakes. Don’t worry about covering the entire surface, just let it run off where it wants to. Oh, and this is best done while they’re still on the wire rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch the extra drizzle.

7. Now it’s time for the frosting. In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Then gradually mix in the icing sugar. To make the cherry flavor, add in some of the syrup from the jar of Maraschino cherries as well as the red food coloring to give it a pink hue. To make the vanilla flavor, just add in the vanilla and leave the frosting white. If you’d like to make both flavors and try swirling the frosting, be sure to divide the frosting into two separate bowls before adding any flavorings. Continue to mix on a high speed for approximately 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

8. Pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes in a swirl. Then top each one with a Maraschino cherry. If you’d like to do both flavors, mix the frosting in your piping bag by filling the left half of the bag with one flavor and the right half with the other. I find this is a lot easier if you put the piping bag into a glass and place a spatula or large spreading knife down the center to keep the frostings on their respective sides. Once both flavors are in there, remove the spatula and pipe as normal!

Guinness and Baileys Cupcakes

I’ve had this cupcake recipe for a few years now and it has been a huge hit with everyone that’s ever tasted them. Using a great combination of two quintessentially Irish ingredients they make for a fun St. Patrick’s Day treat. For those that don’t like Guinness, don’t worry! The stout helps make for a super moist and chocolatey cupcake, so the taste of the beer isn’t too strong. The Bailey’s frosting doesn’t cook out the alcohol, so if you’re making for kids, you may want to substitute with a basic cream cheese frosting – they’re just as good!  The toppers on these cupcakes are hand-piped shamrocks, using a spritz cookie dough.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened (you want it just a tiny bit firm still so that the icing will be stiffer for piping)
  • 4 cups icing sugar (sifted)
  • 5 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Place cupcake liners into the pan.

2. Stir the butter and Guinness in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, then whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate large bowl, mix together the eggs and sour cream. Once combined, add the cooled beer mixture into the egg mixture, stirring constantly so as to avoid scrambling the eggs. Gradually add in the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter should be a fairly runny consistency.

4. Fill each of the cupcake liners with about 1/3 cup of the batter (so they’re about 2/3 full). Bake for 15-20 mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean when pushed through the center. Let rest in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the frosting, cream the butter in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Gradually sift in the icing sugar, scraping the bowl with a spatula in between each addition. Add in the Bailey’s Irish Cream, then continue to mix on the high setting until the frosting becomes light and airy.

6. Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe onto the top of the cupcakes.

Rainbow Cake

Last year, I made this cake for my birthday, and it was a hit with my friends. However, I was never quite happy with the buttercream that I used with it – it was too sweet and made eating this cake quite a challenge.  So, I decided to give it another shot and take it in to share with my co-workers. So, being that I work at a design agency, I think it went over quite well in ‘yeah, we work with colour’ kind of way.

The key to this cake is time. And a set of scales. Be sure to watch the layers when they’re in the oven, because they’re really thin and you can easily overbake them. Try different colour combinations as well! It would be fun to see one that’s more of a monochromatic theme.

For this recipe, I used the batter below, but you can cheat and use a couple of boxed cake mixes instead. For the buttercream this time around, I made three batches of the lemon buttercream that I used on my Earl Grey Cupcakes. I made two of the batches with the lemon zest and used them to coat in between the layers and to do the crumb coat. The third batch for the final coating didn’t have the lemon zest in order to have a pure white finish with no lemony bits.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (230 grams) butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) milk, room temperature
  • gel food colouring – I used the Wilton food colours.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Butter your 8-inch cake tins and line with baking paper. I only have two pans, so I had to do this in multiple stages, just clean and reuse them between each layer – like I said earlier, this takes time! Then weigh the empty large bowl that you will be mixing everything in and take note of it. (All you Americans back home, this will be easier in the long run if you set your scale to grams.)

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Separate your egg whites into a separate small bowl and set aside.

3. In the large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then slowly add your egg whites, mixing in as you go, followed by the vanilla.

4. Add in the milk and the dry ingredients, alternating between the two until you have combined everything completely.  Then weigh your filled mixing bowl. Subtract the weight of your empty bowl to get the weight of the batter you need to divide. Divide that number by the number of layers you intend to make, so if you’re doing the complete rainbow, it will be six.

5. As with the mixing bowl, weigh the bowls you will use to colour the layers while empty (or just set them on the scale and tare it). Gradually add in your batter until it weighs its even portion. Repeat this process with each of the bowls until you have enough for all of your layers.

6. Mix in the gel food colouring to each of your batters until they reach your desired hue. Pour into your cake tins, using a spatula to get as much of the batter out as possible. The layers will be very thin!  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

7. Let the cakes cool in the pan for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While all of the layers are cooling, make the first two batches of buttercream (the ones with the lemon zest).

8. To stack the layers, coat each one with a thin layer of the icing, trying to keep them as even as possible to prevent toppling over. Once all of the layers are stacked, coat the top and outside with the rest of the icing, creating a crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge to allow the crumb coat to set.

9. While the cake is in the fridge, mix up the third batch of buttercream (the one without the lemon zest). Use this batch to coat and complete the cake with a clean, white finish!

Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

Living in the UK, I’ve come to learn that the British value their cup of tea. So when I came across this recipe for Earl Grey cupcakes, I had to pay sugary tribute to the afternoon cuppa. My only challenge was converting a vegan recipe to a normal one, but it worked out well. I think my favorite part of the cupcake is the super fresh lemon-y taste from the buttercream, and the hint of tea that starts to work it’s way through your tastebuds as the cupcake melts in your mouth. These cupcakes do not rise very much, but are super soft due to sifting in the dry ingredients, so be sure to fill the cases up to just below the brim.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Earl Grey teabags
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar (sifted)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (approx 190°C). Place cupcake liners into a the pan.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the milk until just before boiling. Add the tea bags, the orange zest, and the lemon zest; stir and remove from the heat. Cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes. After that time, remove the tea bags, being sure to squeeze all of the liquid out of them.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, in a separate bowl then sift into the wet mixture. Mix until all of the large lumps are gone.

4. Fill each of the cupcake liners with the batter to just below the brim. Bake for 15-20 mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean when pushed through the center. Let rest in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the frosting, cream the butter in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Gradually sift in the icing sugar, scraping the bowl with a spatula in between each addition. Add in the lemon juice and lemon zest, then continue to mix on the high setting until the frosting becomes light and airy.

6. Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe onto the top of the cupcakes.