Mint

During the summer months we stop by our local ice cream shop pretty regularly, and 98% of the time I end up ordering mint chocolate chip ice cream topped with chocolate sprinkles.  It’s my go-to; I just love the chocolate-mint combination.  When cold weather sets in we don’t stop eating ice cream altogether, but it is a less frequent occurrence, and instead of going out I make most of the ice cream myself.  I haven’t found a homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream I love (if you have one, I’d be psyched if you’d leave a comment telling me about it!) so I almost never make it and consequently don’t get to satisfy the craving as often as I’d like.  So, it’s probably not a shocker that I kept coming back to chocolate and mint desserts when I was searching for St Patty’s Day recipes.

Cupcakes

My starting point was a recipe I found in my Whoopie Pies book for mint buttercream.  I briefly considered going in the whoopie pie direction, but decided I’d rather have a chocolate cupcake with the buttercream mounded on top.  I made Martha Stewart’s one bowl chocolate cupcakes, which are one of my favorites.  The recipe is super simple and the cupcakes always turn out moist and chocolate-y.  I added green gel food coloring to the frosting just to make them more festive, but you could certainly leave it white if that’s more your style.  The buttercream is fairly sweet but not as buttery as others I’ve made and I liked the flavor quite a bit – it’s minty, but not overpowering.  The texture was perfect for piping too.  My chocolate-mint craving was definitely satisfied :)

Mint

Two quick notes: I wanted to add chocolate chips to the cupcakes to really make them mint chocolate chip, but the batter for this particular recipe is too thin, and the chips just sank to the bottom (even when tossed with a little flour beforehand).  I’ll try again eventually using a different recipe.  Also, I halved the cupcake recipe below and the full frosting recipe yielded the perfect amount to top my 9 cupcakes.  If you like as much frosting as I do on your cupcakes and you make the full recipe for 18 cupcakes, you will probably need to double the frosting recipe.        

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Cupcakes from Martha Stewart; Frosting adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsly & Amy Treadwell

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract and water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared pans, filling each well about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the pans to wire racks and let the cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and cool completely on the wire racks.

Mint Buttercream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
green gel food coloring (optional)
semisweet chocolate chips 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners’ sugar and butter (first on low and then increasing the speed to medium) until evenly distributed and crumbly, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the cream, extracts, and salt and beat on high speed until light, fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.  If you want green buttercream, beat in a little bit of food coloring at a time until you achieve your desired color.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost as desired.  Garnish with chocolate chips.

Makes 18 cupcakes