Sunday, December 8, 2013

Minty Holidays

It's holiday season. And all the celebrations, and photos that accompany them, have begun. For me, it seems I'll have a couple parties here--including my farewell to Boston--and another few in Mexico. Followed by what I hope is an epic start to a very interesting year in my life. I say this because 2014 will be full of changes and adventures (a gist of which I'll share in another post) and I expect it to provide me with a handful (or more) of amazing stories.

But right now I want to talk about food. I haven't bakes in a long time--mainly because of a diet I started to get ready for the upcoming month of stuffing my body with holiday goodies--but on Wednesday I made cupcakes for a holiday party at my boss' house.

Here's the thing: there was a dessert contest and I was determined to win it.

I did. With these delicious dark chocolate mocha cupcakes topped with peppermint mascarpone frosting. I took a couple of recipes and combined them to make a christmas-time version of the traditional chocolate cupcakes; added a few decor details and took home the prize for best dessert!

Dark Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes (adapted from Sweet Revelations)
Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes + cooling + frosting/decorating
Makes about 24 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup strong hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa
  • 3/4 unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F; line cupcake pans with 24 liners and set aside.
  2. Whisk together coffee and cocoa in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and powder and set aside. In another bowl mix milk, yogurt and vanilla and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt at medium-high intensity. Lower to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating each one well before adding the next. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Then add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture until combined. Repeat process with remaining flour and buttermilk mixes, ending with flour. Add cocoa mixture until thoroughly combined. 
  4. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Note that cupcakes may seem raw at minute 16, but will bake quickly past then, so keep an eye on them! Cool down completely before frosting. 

Peppermint Mascarpone Frosting (adapted from Epicurious)
Active time: 5 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes. 
Makes enough to frost 20-24 cupcakes
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • Red food coloring (optional)
  1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add extracts and salt and taste.
  2. Beat in mascarpone on very low speed until just combined; be careful not to overbeat since the mascarpone will curdle. 

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