I love cupcakes! That might sound odd coming from a dietitian, but it’s true (I mean, have you read the title of this blog?). It’s pretty much like having a personal cake, except with a higher frosting to cake ratio. And, if you’re like my husband, the more frosting, the better the cake is. That’s not the only reason to love cupcakes though. I think they are faster and easier to make than a cake. Each one is it’s own serving, so I can have a sweet treat without feeling overly full. Plus, the variations of cupcake flavors and frostings are endless, so it’s easy to customize for every person, event or holiday.
This customization came into play a few weeks ago when I co-hosted a baby shower for a dear friend of mine. The shower’s theme colors, mint green and coral, were based off of her nursery colors. I was trying to incorporate the colors for the dessert table (that amazing cake in the back is from my very talented friend, Mindy) so, naturally, we needed a mint dessert. Nothing pairs better with mint than chocolate and so, these cupcakes were created.
This chocolate cupcake recipe has become my go-to because it has a deep chocolate flavor and is so simple to make. It is an oil-based cake, which makes it very moist, tender and fudgy. Just to make these cupcakes even more indulgent, I added a mint chocolate ganache filling. Biting into these cupcakes and finding a rich chocolate filling is just the best! The frosting is the ever delightful Swiss meringue buttercream, with a hint of mint. I have to admit, I was a little cautious about adding mint to Swiss meringue buttercream because I just couldn’t figure out if I would like the taste. After testing it out on a tiny sample, I learned one thing: I should never doubt Swiss meringue buttercream. Remember those multi-colored dinner mints that you can always find at weddings, country clubs or your grandparent’s house? This frosting is just like those, but somehow, a million times better too! It’s buttery, sweet, minty and has just a hint of vanilla that makes it beyond delicious. It’s the perfect pairing with the chocolate cupcake and ganache!
These cupcakes disappeared quickly at the shower and it’s no surprise as to why. They are chocolatey, minty and the perfect few bites of sweet that we all crave. These would be a great treat for the upcoming green-centric St. Patrick’s Day in a few weeks, but if you can’t wait that long, they are just as delicious on a random weekday too!
1. This recipe can easily be made ahead of time and assembled closer to serving. I usually make the cupcakes one day before my event and fill and frost the cupcakes the day of. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream can also be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator for a few days and re-whipped before frosting the cupcakes. Just make sure to let it sit on the counter for a few hours to bring it to room temperature before re-whipping.
2. A great tutorial for Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be found here!
Chocolate Cupcake recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction and Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted from Sweetapolita
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil (melted coconut oil works too)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
For the Ganache:
- 1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
For the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 4 large, fresh egg whites
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 cup plus 2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon mint extract, plus more to taste
- pinch of salt
- green food coloring, if desired
To make the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together until combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, or large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla together until smooth.
- With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
- Continuing to mix, add half the buttermilk, followed by half of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk and, finally, the rest of the flour. Mix until just combined and only small lumps remain. Be careful not to overmix. The batter will be thin.
- Spoon the batter into the liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack.
- Remove cupcakes from pans onto wire rack and let cool completely.
- Cupcakes can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature until ready to proceed.
To make the Ganache:
- Place the chopped chocolate into a medium glass or heat proof bowl.
- Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
- Bring just to a boil (watching very carefully) then swiftly remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.
- Let sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.
- Once chocolate is melted, add peppermint extract until combined.
- Use immediately. If ganache hardens, microwave in 10-15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth.
To fill the cupcakes:
- Cut a cone shaped portion, or use this great tool, out of the center of each cupcake. Keep the cut-out portion with it's matching cupcake, as you will use them in just a moment.
- Using a small spoon, fill each hole with ganache.
- Place each cupcake top back over the ganache. It's ok if it sticks up a little, the frosting will cover it.
To make the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.
- Add egg whites and sugar and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot. This usually takes 8-10 minutes.
- With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch. Placing a bag of ice around the outside of the bowl will cool the meringue faster. It can take 5-10 minutes for the meringue cool.
- Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm, to the touch.
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. The butter is listed as a range because the amount needed will vary depending on humidity and temperature. Some days I only need 18 tablespoons, other days, I need all 20. After adding the lower range of the butter, whip on medium high speed for 30 seconds. If the mixture is still runny, add a couple more tablespoons of butter, whip again and repeat. The mixture will look curdled just before it comes back to smooth. *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.
- Add vanilla and mint extracts and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Slowly add a small amount green coloring until mint shade is achieved.
- Frost filled cupcakes as desired. I used the 1M tip from Wilton with a piping bag.
- Cupcakes can be held at room temperature for 4-6 hours. If they will be sitting out longer than that, or there are leftovers, refrigerate until 1 hour before serving.
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