Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint-Cream Cheese Frosting

My first post of 2013! haha Wow, so sad that I haven't been on here ... don't go thinking that I haven't been cooking - I just keep forgetting to take pics of what I make! I usually think of it when I'm almost done with the recipe. Things got a little crazy for me at the end of the year and I slacked off on a lot of things. But hopefully this is the beginning of getting back on track!
I have, along with millions of other Americans, been trying to get back into watching my food and doing some exercise. I've been using this app called My Fitness Pal - I love it! It is so easy to use! You set up an account, type in all the info it asks for and it tells you how many calories you should be eating in a day. Then, as you eat you just open up your little app and add the food or drinks that you have consumed and it keeps a running tally of your calories and tells you how many you have left for the day! I love that I don't have to do anything other than add the food. It has thousands of items in the database and there hasn't been many times where I can't find the food I need. If you have a smart-phone or an iTouch with a camera, you can also scan the bar-code and bring it up that way too. It's really neat and so easy to use! I'm happy to say I have lost 7 pounds in the (almost) three weeks I've been doing it!
Well, today's recipe isn't one for those watching what they eat! Sorry readers, but on occasion I use a recipe that I just don't make healthy! Today is one of those times. A few weeks ago I was browsing Pinterest for some new recipes and I saw these amazing looking cupcakes on there - I showed them to a coworker who just loves peppermint flavored anything! She has great faith in my 'Betty' abilities and wanted me to make them for her birthday ... so today, that's what I worked on.
Let me tell you - THEY WERE HARD TO MAKE!!! lol The recipe seemed so easy, but wow - it almost turned into one of those 'Pinterest fails' that you hear about all the time (only because of the stripe in the frosting)! I'm sure practice makes perfect, but since I won't be eating these types of foods, I doubt I'll make them again anytime soon.
So if you like a challenge or just love to bake ... here is a great recipe to try. But be warned, the frosting isn't as easy to do as the recipe makes it sound!! Good luck and happy baking!!!!

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
*yields 24-30 cupcakes*
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350.
In large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
Stir in boiling water. (batter will be thin)
Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.
Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure peppermint extract
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream or milk

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add powdered sugar gradually and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Add peppermint and vanilla extracts.
Slowly add the cream until the desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes)
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*to achieve red stripe in frosting: Before filling a large piping bag with frosting, add some red gel food coloring to a toothpick and draw two vertical lines on the inside of the bag. Carefully fill bag with frosting. Squeeze some frosting into a bowl until you begin to see the red stripe, then frost the cupcakes.
Top cupcakes with crushed candy canes or other peppermint flavored candy.

*My Notes*

I have read that turning the oven down to 325 and baking for 23-26 minutes and filling liners 3/4 of the way full will yield better cupcakes ... this is what I always do, and the end result is MUCH better!
I needed a little more than the 4 cups of powdered sugar to get my frosting thick enough to stay in place on a cupcake. I also did not need to use the milk/cream in the frosting.
I only used a scoop or two of frosting in the bag at a time as the warmth of my hands was making it too runny! Also, I had to add more red lines every 2-4 cupcakes to keep the red stripe. I made a HUGE mess and had frosting and red dye EVERYWHERE hahaha but the cupcakes taste so good, it was worth it!
Also, I used those Andes mints baking chips to sprinkle on top of my cupcakes instead of candy canes.

Here is a picture of the original recipe on Pinterest:

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