Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes in a rush

Have you ever counted the number of ingredients on the side of a cake mix box? Best not to try. I grew up on box mixes and was using them primarily up until my decision to stick to foods containing just a few ingredients that I can actually pronounce. Box mixes are convenient and reliable, however, so I won’t swear them off – especially in a pinch.

At the end of a busy week before Christmas filled with decorating, shopping, work, and school, I decided to make Christmas cupcakes for some friends. I don’t believe I had ever made “Christmas” cupcakes before, so I wanted to make them seasonal. The answer: peppermint.

It’s this simple:
1. Pick up a box of chocolate cake mix, preferably Devil’s food or dark chocolate
2. Grab a container (or two!) of chocolate icing - go darker here too, not milk chocolate
3. Toss a bottle of peppermint extract in your basket
4. Stop in the seasonal aisle and grab some Peppermint Patties and candy canes

Bake the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Add just a drop or two of peppermint extract to the icing (about ¼ teaspoon). Peppermint extract is strong, much stronger than vanilla extract, and a little goes a long way. It’s best to start with a little, stir, and taste. You can always add more and you won’t mind taste testing as you go. I used about a container and a half of icing to ice 24 cupcakes with the method you see in the photos.

Decorate the cakes with the peppermint candies. I placed a few candy canes under parchment paper and crushed them with a rolling pin to make the peppermint dust, and cut the Peppermint Patties in half to show off their bright white centers.

These cupcakes are delicious. Which leads me to ask, why don’t we see them more? I spent some time searching for chocolate peppermint cakes online and most recipes made a white peppermint frosting. Chocolate and mint is a superb combination and you can bet I’ll be making these again next year – hopefully with a perfected homemade cake and icing.

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