Santa’s Little Helpers

Cake. Chocolate. Peppermint. Marshmallow. Glitter. Candy Canes. Snow. Getting fat. Yeah, sounds like a pretty quintessential Christmas to me.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been on a bit of a baking frenzy over the last few weeks. Another dish on the hit list – candy cane cupcakes.

This was a slightly strange choice, because I don’t really like peppermint. But red & white stripes and minty chocolate are just so Christmassy, I simply couldn’t help myself.

I used my trusty sour cream chocolate cake recipe, filled them with a luscious peppermint ganache and topped the cakes with either a marshmallow candy cane swirl, or a wintery snow scene. Both of which were both covered in edible glitter. Obviously.

These actually turned out great. Although they got off to a pretty rough start… I got as far as putting the batter in the cupcake cases before realizing that I had forgotten to add sugar. I was looking at the mixture thinking “something really doesn’t look right”. Then it hit me that I had left out a pretty key component. Thankfully things improved from there.

Because I’m not a big peppermint fan, I think I will make this recipe again but use orange zest and extract in the ganache to create a chocolate orange cupcake. Much more my cup of tea.

But I think Father Christmas approved of these babies… I made sure to leave one out on Christmas Eve, just in case he didn’t know where to find me!

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Candy Cane Cupcakes

Serves: 12 standard cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup hot chocolate, room temperature
  • Ganache

  • 10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsps peppermint extract
  • Frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps peppermint extract
  • METHOD

    Cakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line your mini cupcake baking tray with 12 cupcake cases.
  • In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Whisk in sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, sour cream and hot chocolate. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well combined and no streaks of flour remain visible.
  • Divide evenly into prepared baking trays. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed.
  • Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely before filling and frosting.
  • Ganache

  • Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in small saucepan. Pour over top of the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Allow to sit 2-3 minutes, add in the peppermint, then whisk until smooth.
  • Leave the ganache to thicken for 20-30 minutes (it will take this time for the cupcakes to cool).
  • Once the cupcakes are cool, cut a whole in the middle and spoon in a generous helping of the thickened ganache.
  • Spoon another dollop on top of the cake and spread around until the surface is smooth and covered in glistening chocolate.
  • Frosting

  • Beat egg whites together until light and frothy using an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running, slowly pour in 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until soft peaks form.
  • In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water, corn syrup, and remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Place over medium heat and cook until boiling. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture reaches the firm-ball stage, about 242 to 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add hot syrup to egg-white mixture. SLOWLY is the operative word here… do not have any small children or animals around either! Increase mixer speed to high and continue beating for 4 minutes. Add vanilla and peppermint then continue to beat until mixture looks like marshmallow cream, about 1 minute more.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag with a wide tip and pipe peaks for the snow scene cupcakes. Do this by holding the nozzle in the centre of the cake, squeeze gently and lift the nozzle up. Continue to do this until the whole cake is covered in peaks.
  • For candy cane frosting, drizzle some red food colouring inside the piping bag. Pile in the frosting and swirl around the cake.
  • Cover both while a generous helping of glitter!
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