I’ve written in this space long enough to have mentioned cupcakes a number of times. At first I thought, “I can’t post yet another cupcake recipe, can I?”
Of course I can. Because one can never have too many recipes for a rich and perfectly textured chocolate cupcake and this frosting really needs to be brought to your attention. While my boys may not appreciate the little green flecks covering their cake I sure do. I love that there’s a nod to spring. A fresh taste that’s not astringent or harsh. It’s soft, grassy and light – definitely mint but not toothpastey as some extracts can be. The flavor is all in the leaves, which right now is the only thing popping up in my little garden besides chives and the straggly looking kale left over from last season.
The other reason why I bring up cupcakes is to mention that I’m helping Jennifer Shea, the owner of Trophy Cupcakes here in Seattle, launch her book tour. I’ll be joining Jennifer at Williams-Sonoma this Saturday. While she whips up cupcakes and teaches us the art of the buttercream ruffle, I’ll be serving up Rhubarb Cream Soda. Hope to see many of you there.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Mint Buttercream
Makes 2 dozen (although I actually got 3)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Combine the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and dry ingredients. Blend at low speed, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon, carefully so that it doesn’t splash, until the batter is smooth again. It will be thin. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes and stir gently before using.
Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full and bake until the tops of the cupcakes are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center of a middle cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pans before removing to cool completely.
Fresh Mint Buttercream
I find that this frosting is best made the day you plan to eat the cupcakes.
4 ounces cream cheese, soft
2 sticks/ 8 ounces unsalted butter, soft
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely minced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment combine the cream cheese, butter, salt and mint leaves. Beat on low until well combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula then mix on medium low for one minute more.
With the machine on low add the powdered sugar. Once combined, increase the speed to medium high then beat for three minutes, until light.
Frost the cooled cupcakes then top with a sugared mint leaf if you’d like.
To make the sugared mint leaves, I chose pretty, fresh leaves that used my fingers to coat then in lightly beaten egg whites. You could use a pastry brush if you’re more civilized than I. Then I dipped then in fine sugar (regular sugar pulsed in a blender or food processor works well). Place the leaves on a plate to dry for 24 hours or so.