I’m not sure whether or not it makes me feel better, but I certainly wasn’t the only Christmas shopping procrastinator bustling around out in the world today! Without fail, I end up being way too busy to shop early, and I end up with a full list of family members to shop for in minimal time. Luckily, I expected the challenge, this being the last weekend before Christmas, so I bundled up in a warm coat, loaded my ipod with holiday favorites, and ventured out with the attitude that I’d make do with whatever happened! Rain was pouring down, the stores were hopping, and I actually made some really great progress despite the never ending lines. I owe it all to adrenaline and caffeine!
Martha Stewart’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Baking this time of year is especially magical since there are so many awesome, festive flavor combos! These chocolate mint cupcakes are no exception. I followed Martha Stewart’s cupcake recipe pretty closely (the frosting is a different story altogether), except that I subbed in milk + vinegar for the buttermilk since I didn’t have any on hand, and left out the peppermint extract completely. I really wanted the chocolate flavor to shine so I could save the peppermint for the frosting. At first, the batter seemed WAY too runny…as in, I felt like I was pouring chocolate milk into the cupcake tins, but everything worked out and they baked up beautifully! A yummy addition to any Christmas dessert tray
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder)
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
* 3/4 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 cup milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar)
* 3/4 cup warm water
* 3 Tbsps vegetable oil
* 1 tsp pure peppermint extract (I left this out!)
* 1 candy cane, or several mini candy canes, crushed for topping (optional) But these make them super cute!
Preheat oven to 350* F. Line a 12-cupcake tin with cupcake papers.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the oil and sugar, and mix until combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between additions until smooth. Add buttermilk, extract (if adding to make peppermint chocolate cupcakes), buttermilk (or milk + vinegar), and water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Slowly add dry mixture to the wet mixture, beating on low in between additions.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups. The recipe says to fill only 2/3 fully, but I filled them a touch fuller than that since I like tall cupcakes. (If you end up with extra batter, bake as a second batch after the first is done. I think this recipe would have made a few more than 12 cupcakes except that I fill the cups really full.)
Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin before removing cupcakes and allowing them to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Frost once completely cool and top with a sprinkle of crushed candy cane.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
The frosting suggested in the book for these cupcakes was mint buttercream, but instead of using Martha’s version, I topped my little cakes with a frosting of my own creation. This peppermint buttercream is a spin off of my classic go-to buttercream recipe. Peppermint extract adds a kick! No chocolate leaves here, my cupcakes are adorned with pretty candy cane crumbles!
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 1-2 Tbsp milk, or milk alternative
* 3 drops-1/4 tsp peppermint extract, to taste
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix until crumbly. Add in 3 drops peppermint extract and 1 Tbsp milk. Mix again until combined. Add remaining 2 cups powdered sugar. Assess consistency, and add more peppermint if desired. If too thick, add remaining 1 Tbsp milk. If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. Whip for a minute, or until well combined, and smooth with no lumps remaining. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
I’ve also made Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cupcakes from the same book with great success! Check them out here.
Of course I can’t wind down this post without including my favorite outfits from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show this year! All Access Here. I love, love, love the lacey number Candice Swanepoel floated down the glittery runway in during the “Angels in Bloom” section of the show – pretty, sweet, and accompanied by a set of flowery wings!
Lindsay Ellingson paraded down the runway in a black-hot cut-out corset type top during “Silver Screen Angels,” but my favorite part of the whole ensemble is the giant, feathery wings! You can’t be an angel without wings