Last week, I did something completely uncharacteristic of myself: I baked cupcakes.
For anyone who knows me, you'll recognize immediately that baking cupcakes is soooo not me. I'm not a cupcake girl. In fact, I have a huge rant prepared about how cupcakes are NOT cute and mini versions of cakes. No, cute and mini versions of cakes should still look like cakes. Cute and mini versions of cupcakes should look like cupcakes. But really, I should spare you all the rant.
And back to the cupcakes. The other reason that I tend to steer clear of cupcakes is the same reason that I don't like making sugar cookies: the decorating. There are just so many frosting colors involved! And the thought of all those little bowls with all of those different colors of frosting, all of which have to be washed at the end of the decorating session, along with all of the spoons that you used to mix the different colors. Just the thought of it is extremely exhausting to me. (background note: I abhor doing dishes.) So, the short of it is that I don't usually do cupcakes. Mini cupcakes are my thing.
But, for some unexplained, crazy reason last week, I had the sudden urge to make cupcakes. I think it was all of the peppermint ganache that I'd eaten. Really, it was. After making my molten peppermint chocolate cake, I ended up with a few cakes that were left uneaten. At first, I didn't think that the peppermint ganache would be good after it had cooled and hardened inside the cake, but, upon trying one of the cooled cakes, it tasted really good! So, why not put peppermint ganache in chocolate cupcakes? yum yum!
Alas--there was a problem. Mini-cupcakes just would not do in such a situation. There just wouldn't be enough room for cake AND chocolate ganache in the mini molds, so full-sized cupcakes it would have to be. And that's the story of how my Christmas cupcake extravaganza came to be.
Anyways, the cupcakes were super yummy. The chocolate cake here is THE chocolate cake recipe I turn to for pretty much everything under the sun. It's so moist, which is perfect here, because the peppermint ganache sort of melts into the chocolate cake and cools to form an amazing amalgamation of pepperminty-chocolatey awesomeness. Top with a generous dollop of peppermint-schnapps-infused buttercream and some sprinkles, and you're golden.
Oh, and of course I made mini versions as well (not with peppermint ganache). I mean, everything is better in miniature, no?
Read on for recipe... (this chocolate cake recipe also works well fresh-out-of-the-oven for molten chocolate cakes!)
Chocolate peppermint cake
makes about 36 cupcakes
2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1 cup cocoa
1 tspn salt
2 tspn baking powder
2 tspn baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 cup milk
1 cup boiling water
peppermint dark chocolate ganache, recipe here
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a mixer bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine thoroughly.
3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add veggie oil and milk. Mix to combine.
4. Add the eggs, oil, and milk to the dry ingredients, beating to combine thoroughly.
5. Add boiling water. Combine thoroughly.
6. Fill the cupcake molds (make sure to not put this directly in the pan. Use molds.) 1/2 full. Place a small ball (~3/4 inch in diameter) of peppermint ganache in the middle of the batter. Cover the ganache with a tiny bit more of batter. Be careful not to overfill the molds, as they will overflow.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done. (The toothpick test probably doesn't work here, since the insides are filled with chocolate ganache. Use your sense of smell, your intuition, and make sure the cakes aren't jiggly before you pull them out!)
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible
makes 4 cups (and trust me, you'll want all of this for the cupcakes, if not more. Any extra can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.)
6 egg yolks
5.25 oz sugar
5.75 oz light corn syrup
1 lb (2 cups) butter, at room temperature
1 Tbspn peppermint extract
2 Tbspn peppermint schnapps
1. Prepare a greased heatproof glass measure near the stove.
2. In a mixer bowl, beat egg yolks until light.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Stir constantly and cook until the syrup comes to a rolling boil, which large bubbles covering the entire surface. Immediately transfer to the prepared heatproof measuring glass to stop the cooking.
4. Pour a small amount of the syrup into the egg yolks and beat for five seconds at high to combine. Repeat.
5. Pour all of the remaining syrup into the egg yolks (be careful not to let the syrup fall on the beaters) and continue beating until the bowl is completely cool to the touch.
6. Gradually beat in the butter.
7. Lastly, beat in the peppermint extract and liquor. Use at room temperature.