Cupcakes!

It's very early in the morning. I'm bleary eyed and hungry. My tooth aches. Too much sugar on my cereal. I watched some Fox News (which satisfies my need for sensationalist, crime based stories) and then watched the snow falling outside.
I have to go and defrost my car soon. For now though, let us forget the cold weather and the toothaches and escalating crime and gaze instead upon my entry for the Cupcake Roundup being held by Cheryl at the Cupcake Bakeshop and Garrett at Vanilla Garlic.
My attention was drawn to this round-up by two mouthwatering entries: Brilynns over at Jumbo Empanadas with her Carrot Cupcakes AND Banana Cupcakes. She really does care that we get our vitamins. And then there's the Gemma at Dressing for Dinner with her awesome Double Seville Orange Cupcakes (although she must have made a pact with the devil to have gotten ahold of some Seville Oranges because 'round these parts, they're as rare as a blemish free McDonalds worker).
I had actually decided not to submit an entry to this event because I've never made cupcakes. Sure, I've made muffins but they're like the brains of the small cake family: you have the baby of the family, the petits four, then the beauty of the family, the cupcake with all it's a glossy, painted glory, then the artist of the family, the ethereal fairy cake and finally the oldest child who went to college and got a good job, the reliable muffin.
Ok, so it might not be a great analogy but the point is, I'm not artistic. I can dollop mixture into the cases but when it comes to pretty-fying them, I'm at a loss. It's not that I don't appreciate art, quite the opposite. I studied History of Art at school and understand many of the themes behind Salvador Dali's surrealist masterpieces, however, ask me replicate them (or indeed even a 'simple' Joan Miro) and let the ridicule begin.
With that disclaimer in mind, here is my entry, which I decided to make after spending a night alone whilst Paul was at a course (the devil will find work for idle hands and Morrissey fans to do...), prowling the kitchen finding things to do. Not only did I make a starter for Italian bread, I also made a delicious soup (see my forthcoming post for Weekend Herb Blogging) and these minty little morsels: Grasshopper Cupcakes.
Yes, inspired by the 50s diner Grasshopper pie (see my miserable failure at replicating this dish) and its predecessor, the cocktail, I decided to expunge on the theme of mint and chocolate. The cake itself is a simple butter, flour, sugar mixture with Green and Blacks cocoa powder and a dash of Peppermint Extract. Nothing too exciting there, I here you cry. Aha, but look at the picture below and marvel in the cross section of the cupcake displayed..what's that? A York Mint Bite? Hell yeah! (For English readers, my Brother-in-Law, Mark bought these over from America for me but our upper-class equivalent, Bendicks, would work). Top this with a mint green icing (not as green as I had hoped but I didn't have any green colouring), made mouthwash minty with my own special mint sugar syrup, using the fresh plant, hence the speckled effect.
I was pleased to taste a cupcake without the icing and found its tender, chocolatey sponge to be really quite delicious, the faint hint of peppermint not too strong. In fact, I think I prefer them without the icing but then, I'm a bit peculiar like that.
Here then, is the recipe for my Grasshopper Cupcakes.
GRASSHOPPER CUPCAKES makes 18 regular size cupcakes
Ingredients:
225g Plain Flour, sifted
4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1 Tsp Baking Powder
225g Caster Sugar
Pinch Salt
225g Unsalted Butter
4 Eggs
1 tsp Peppermint Essence
18 Chocolate Covered Mints (like York Peppermint Bites or Bendicks)
For the Icing:
115g Softened Butter
225g Icing Sugar
1 tsp Peppermint Essence or Mint Syrup (made with 100g sugar boiled up with 100ml water, add a bunch of chopped mint, boil for 30 seconds then remove from the heat and puree)
Green Food Colouring (optional if using the Mint Syrup as this is already green)

METHOD:
Preheat the Oven to 160c (325f).
Line 2 Cupcake Tins with 18 Liners.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat the eggs, one at a time, into the butter and sugar.
Gradually mix in the sifted flour and cocoa powder, mixing to a smooth thick consistency.
Finally, stir in the teaspoon of Peppermint Essence.
Put a teaspoon of the mixture into each case, then a chocolate/mint then top with another half teaspoon or so of the mixture (however much it takes to use up all the mixture).
Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly risen and springy to the touch.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, mix up the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract (or syrup) and colouring.
Once the cupcakes are cool, spread a thick layer of the icing over each.
You could probably also palm these off as St Patricks Day cupcakes if you stuck a green marzipan Shamrock on top of the icing.

10 comments:

Saffron said...

Hi Freya, I like your post and you made really interstig cupacakes.
I like the filling!!
Is it still snowing there?
here it's incredibly windy!
Baci,
Saffron

wheresmymind said...

Ahh...grasshopper, those look TOO good :D

Ros said...

Wow, you're REALLY getting into this round up thing, aren't you?

Those look like really deliciouus cupcakes... I am SO craving chocolate now!

Jasmine said...

I love the family analogy--puts it all into sweet perspective :)

j

Kathryn said...

Freya - you are the Queen of these round ups.

I like that analogy too. Would butterfly buns be the toddler of the family (small, a bit messy, but dead cute???). I make cupcakes a lot more than I make muffins or petits four etc. Yours look great though - fantastic. Mouth watering here!

Kathryn x

Freya said...

Hi Saffron, it stopped snowing today but it's still really cold!

Jeff, they were good! They look unassuming but they are deadly!

Ros, I'm winding down this weekend, I promise!

Jasmine, it was the only way I could think to describe them but I think it works!!

Butterfly Buns could be the messy toddler! I love them, my grandma makes the best ones! I must remind her that I haven't had any in years!

Freya x

Gemma said...

They look and sound delicious.

For the seville oranges I am guessing that the whole of Edinburgh must have a pact with the devil as they are surprisingly ubiquitous round here - must be a lot of marmalade makers!

Gemma x

Kristen said...

I cannot wait to give these a try! Oh my gosh...what a great combination!

Linda said...

delish! my watering mouth really likes your cupcakes. nice work!!

Robyn said...

York mint patty! Genius. Looks delish. my secret to "pretty-fying" cupcakes is the simple star tip. you just make a swirl and people think it's fancy. And it's super easy.