Sunday, 16 January 2011

Rich chocolate cupcakes with Crème de Menthe buttercream




I recall telling you about my festive “puff pastry aberration” in Tesco. I suppose the other random Christmas purchase I should ‘fess up to is a bottle of Crème de Menthe. Hard to explain really – one minute it was on the shelf with its comrades, the next it was in my trolley planning a new life with me. These things happen.


Everybody smiles fondly if you show them a bottle of Crème de Menthe – it has retro chic in spades - but no one actually wants to drink it. Mr CC and I tried sipping small glasses of the green elixir and, while it wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t exactly lovely either. On the plus side though our mouths felt fresher as a result.


Mint can be an overpowering flavour in baked goods and desserts; I like a hint of mint rather than the sensation that I’m eating toothpaste. That’s why I recommend that, if you include them, use standard chocolate chips in my cupcakes; if you are a mint addict you could use chopped After Eights left over from Christmas, however, the notion of “leftover” chocolate is alien to me …it is simply chocolate I am yet to eat.


I tweaked my standard chocolate cupcake recipe by using half milk, half crème de cacao. This is a cocoa flavoured liqueur and it enhanced the chocolatiness of the cake – the texture of the batter was more like a chocolate mousse and tasted just as rich. I recommend using this if you have it. Maybe because there was less milk in the batter, we all noticed that the sponge was lighter in texture than usual.


The Crème de Menthe gave the buttercream a delicate greenness and you could enhance this with colouring. I chose not to but I admit I’m funny about adding colour and try to avoid it if possible and yes, I know that Crème de Menthe is only green because of colourings but that’s out of my control!

I find that most things with mint are best made a day or so in advance, so the flavour can soften and mellow; it can be harsh if tasted straight away.


I preferred these to my other attempt at mint cupcakes for two reasons: firstly, I found the Crème de Menthe to have a gentler, more rounded flavour than peppermint extract and, secondly, this buttercream gave a light feel in the mouth which had the effect of softening the mint.

Ingredients

For the chocolate cupcake:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk – I used 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon crème de cacao but I wouldn’t buy it especially for the recipe
Optional: 50g chocolate chips

For the buttercream:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons Crème de Menthe liqueur
Optional: green colouring

Decorate: purely optional, I used chocolate leaves to contrast against the buttercream

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Line a cupcake pan with paper cases.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, flour, cocoa and milk.

When the mixture is smooth and well combined, stir in the After Eights or chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the paper cases.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. Mine took 15 minutes.

Remove from the tin as soon as possible and leave to cool on a wire rack – removing from the tin is important, as the heat of the tin will mean that the cupcakes continue to (over)cook.

Now make the buttercream: place the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until it is whipped, light and pale. Don’t be afraid if this takes 5 minutes or more – it will depend on how soft your butter is at the start.

Add half of the sifted icing sugar and beat again.

Add half of the crème de menthe and beat again.

Repeat with the remaining icing sugar and crème de menthe.

Pipe the buttercream on top of each cupcake. If you refrigerate the finished cakes the buttercream will harden.

Decorate as desired.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.

Eat.

20 comments:

I heart cupcakes said...

I LOVE Creme De Menthe and Baileys mixed which causes my mother great amusement. I also love the idea of creme de menthe cupcakes - yum

Abbie said...

Oh wow... I NEED one of these in my life! They look delicious!

C said...

Oh, yum! I love mint chocolate. Kind of makes up for not being able to have nutty chocolates!

I love the sideways on pic of the cut cupcake - love that frosting! Did you make the leaves that they're decorated with or buy them? They look great either way!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi C

Alas, I cannot claim the credit for the choc leaf - I bought them in Lakeland (of all places) before Christmas; I think they're German.

Glad you like my arty side on shot. I thought it was a really nice shape!

Blue Shed Thinking said...

Hmmm.....

Wonder if I could substitute Creme de Menthe with Frangelico. Or Cassis. Or that East European raspberry liqueur I always wonder about when I see it in Morrisons.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Blue Shed

That's a great question - I think you could happily substitute the creme de menthe for any other liqueur; as long as the quantities are kept the same it will work
Happy baking!

Brownieville Girl said...

Looks really delicious - I have an ancient bottle of mint liqueur somewhere - I'll have to get searching!

Gloria said...

OMG, OMG,OMG look absolutely amazing, I love them, x gloria

I want one!!

Jacqueline said...

Those look gorgeous! I haven't had the pleasure of Creme de Menthe, thankfully, but I could see how it would work as a flavouring :)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

This looks absolutely beautiful! So elegant and professional. I know someone who would love these. She loves crème de menthe. I think I'll have to surprise her.

Katie said...

The cupcakes look delicious, so light and moist. Nigella has a creme de menthe grasshopper pie in her new book you could try out with the rest of the liqueur. Love the sound of these. I love impulse purchases

Maggie said...

These look posh CC. These beat the ones I make using After Eight Mints!

Peach Cobbler said...

Wow, these look so delicious. I can't wait to try this out!

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Nigellas grasshopper pie is lush even if a tad too sickly..... will try these though

Cakelaw said...

These are so cute. I have never tried creme de menthe, but imagine it to be like mouthwash on it's own. In baked goods - another story. I have always wanted to try grasshopper pie- it has such a cool name!

Hazel said...

These sound magical! And they look beautiful. Yum yum yum.

Lucy said...

I haven't tried baking with mint flavours yet but your cupcakes look delicious! Plus I love mint chocolate so this looks like a winner :)

LandGirl1980 said...

These look YUMMY!!! On my list of "make and nom" for sure!

I have also just nominated you for an award... don't know if you like that sort of thing - but wanted you to know :)

http://landgirl1980.blogspot.com/2011/01/award-gracias.html

Choclette said...

Your buttercream is so beautifully whipped it looks like cream. I'm with you on the food colourings - nothing wrong with subtle. the chocolate leaves really finish the cakes off well. Did you make them?

Don't respond, just read your answer on that one.

Baking Addict said...

I love the combination of chocolate and mint. Will definitely have to try creme de menthe instead of peppermint extract next time.