Christmas gives me such an excuse to break out my bottle of peppermint extract! I don’t normally make anything with peppermint for the rest of year because it doesn’t quite feel right, but I cherish the opportunity to make all things minty throughout the Christmas season. Preferably combined with chocolate. Of course. I just don’t know how the rest of the family feels about the barrage of peppermint-y things, but they certainly didn’t complain when I made these.
I have a friend who, like me, really loves this flavour combination. Back in college she used to bring me chocolates from her stash, and I distinctly remember that every time she gets her hands on something mint-chocolatey, she texts me to tell me she’ll be sharing some with me tomorrow. Among my group of friends, only the two of us seem to be head over heels with this combo! Gosh I miss my college days!
As far as mint chocolates go, I prefer a bittersweet/dark chocolate base; but for some reason, Andes Mints are one of my favourites despite being made of milk chocolate. I guess the creme de menthe makes the sweetness of milk chocolate that I dislike almost disappear. So it wasn’t that much of a stretch when I decided to top these cupcakes with a sprinkling of Andes, just as an added bonus of minty goodness. It also provides such a great contrast in colour with the frosting and the liners! (It’s odd though how light the green of my icing became once I uploaded it online. The ones I have on my computer don’t look so pale.)
Now I did peg these as my favourite Mint-Chocolate cupcakes for a reason, and I simply cannot sing enough praises for these cupcakes as a whole. But as far as the components go, the cake base was super moist, but not in a soft and crumbly way of the equally delicious Chocolate Bundt Cake I previously wrote about. It’s so silky smooth I could cut it straight through with a fork. It has such a deep, festive flavour so appropriate for Christmas, I bet Santa would love these if you left out a plate for him to snack on. I thought the mint-to-chocolate ratio in the cupcakes themselves were great, but adding the icing just takes it up to the level of perfection.
Just so you know:
- When is the best time to make this recipe? The cupcake base is amazing. If you’re making this the rest of the year, you can omit the mint extract and just stick with the vanilla. Then frost as you will.
- Anything special we should know about before attempting this recipe? The recipe is fairly straightforward and quite easy. Just a warning for the mint-chocolate lover: Be ready to control yourself! Once you have the first bite, you’ll be hooked!
- Would I change anything from this recipe? No. I love it as it is.
For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 tablespoons white vinegar
For the frosting:
4 ounces regular or low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
green food colouring
chocolate chips or chopped Andes Mints, or other garnish of choice
1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar and salt.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, mint extract and vinegar.
4. In a large mixing bowl, with a spatula, combine 1/3 of the dry ingredients with 1/2 of the wet ingredients. After the mixture is thoroughly combined, add half of the remaining dry ingredients with the remaining wet ingredients. Combine thoroughly. Lastly add in the remaining dry ingredients.
5. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, continue to mix for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Pour into cupcake liners (or for a full cake pour into a 9 x 13-inch cake pan prepared with baking spray). Tap the pan against the counter to break any air bubbles that exist.
7. Bake for 20 minutes (cupcakes) or 25-30 minutes (cake), or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.
9. While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting: Using a whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl, until smooth and creamy.
10. Add the extract, and just enough enough food colouring to make the frosting mint-green.
11. Ice the cupcakes and decorate as desired.
While I’m not trying to convert any person who dislikes the mint-chocolate combination, I can’t guarantee that these cupcakes won’t do the trick. I find it too easy to develop a love affair with these! And why not?!
I am yet to pick my next minty creation, but you can be sure this is not the last pepperminty treat you’ll be seeing on the blog this holiday season. I really do hope you enjoy these!