cupcake wars, part deux

A little over a year ago, I entered a cupcake competition at my apartment complex with a mocha chip cupcake and a pumpkin cupcake with apple cider buttercream. I won 2nd place and while I knew my cupcakes were incredible, I was a little defeated. I'm not used to losing when it comes to baking! When they announced this year's competition, I signed up immediately and researched recipes for quite some time until settling on these two delectable treats. 

We were required to make cupcakes with at least two ingredients from a list of suggestions - salted caramel, mint, peach, vanilla, peanut butter, and champagne. It's pretty difficult skip vanilla in a cupcake recipe, so I figured this challenge was easy in that regard. Hunting down a mint chocolate recipe was pretty easy too, but the peach cupcake + buttercream planning was a hodge podge of ideas and last minute decisions I made in the kitchen. Here are the recipes!

Minted Love Cupcakes - dense, chocolaty and not too sweet!
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe 
350 degrees | makes about 30 cupcakes 

2 cups sugar 
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup cocoa 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 eggs 
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 cup boiling water 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper baking cups. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; using a handheld electric mixer or an electric stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be quite thin. I suggest using a 1/3 cup measure to fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack, after removing them from the muffin tin.

Chocolate Mint Filling
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
3 tablespoons heavy cream 
1 teaspoon peppermint extract 
1/3 cup powdered sugar 

While the cupcakes bake, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir. Repeat the process until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract and powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to keep it fluid, and pour it into a squeeze bottle or piping bag with a small circular tip. When the cupcakes are cool, insert the tip of the squeeze bottle into the center of the cupcake and press gently to fill the middle of the cupcake with the mint ganache. 

Vanilla Mint Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature 
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature 
32 ounces powdered sugar (about 7 cups) 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 teaspoons mint (which is actually spearmint + peppermint!) extract 
Green food coloring 

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy - until just about doubled in volume. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the heavy cream and peppermint and vanilla extracts. Beat until light and fluffy. Add green food coloring until the color you like is achieved. Frost the cooled, filled cupcakes with frosting (using a large star tip) or simply spread the frosting in a large dollop with a butter knife or flat spatula.

Garnish Options
  • melt chocolate chips in the microwave, use a squeeze bottle or piping bag to pipe out shapes onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper - in this case, hearts on sticks!
  • garnish with mint Hershey Kisses or Andes mints
  • make extra ganache and squeeze a zigzag over the top of the frosting after the ganache has cooled
  • mini chocolate chips

Peach & Champagne Sparkler Cupcakes - bright, light, sweet and tart!
How do I describe champagne buttercream? It's tart and creamy, like Greek yogurt but sweet. I would not say that it's effervescent in the slightest, nor is it at all boozy, but it's tasty and the perfect complement to the cloyingly sweet peach nectar.

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
350 degrees | makes about 20 cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup half & half
1-1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons flour, divided
1-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 peaches** peeled, pitted & chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined before adding the next one. Add vanilla then beat to combine.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in half & half then beat to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together 1-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch.

Toss remaining 2 Tablespoons flour with the chopped peaches then fold into the batter by hand. Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes rest in the muffin tins for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

** Um, peaches aren't in season, so I went with the second best and used a can of peaches in juice. Down with syrup!

You'll need to make two reductions - this involves simmering a cup of liquid on the stove for 5-7ish minutes (until it's reduced, basically) and then allowing it to cool. In the case of this recipe, I made one batch of champagne reduction and one batch of peach nectar reduction. Here are the bare-bones for a reduction-based frosting, though I went into this in more detail with my apple cider buttercream.

1/2 cup (1 stick) room-temperature butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons reduction (champagne or peach nectar)

Make the frosting according to the apple cider buttercream instructions. Swirl the two frosting together onto the cupcakes using this method from Good Life Eats. Sprinkle with silver jimmies - or whatever you have on hand!

ETA: The voting's in and I won 2nd place. Again

I'll be back with a tutorial for my "sparkler" cupcake toppers soon!

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog! How utterly delightful. Though, I am sorry you won second place. Again :( I bet the cupcakes were absolutely divine!


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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.