Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes

Carrie from Carrie's Sweet Life, is the host of this month's What's Baking Challenge, and the theme was Peppermint. 

Last year, I discovered the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares and they were the first thing that I bought this year when I deemed it to be Christmas time.  They are so creamy with just the right amount of peppermint flavor that they are super addictive.  So, when I heard the challenge, I immediately was wondering if I could make something using those peppermint squares.  I found a recipe that hit the jackpot.

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes
from the Collegiate Baker
1 package of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
2) Unwrap 10 of the peppermint bark squares and cut off the corners. (They aren't exactly the right size for to fit in cupcake pans, but they're pretty close.) Put the peppermint bark squares/octagons aside.
3) In a small-medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Whisk them together.
4) In another medium sized bowl, combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
5) When you put the batter in the first paper liner, make sure you put enough in to completely cover the bottom. Fill the liner up about halfway, maybe a little less, and then put in a peppermint bark square. Cover it with cake batter until the liner is about 2/3 full. Repeat until all the other lines are full.
6) Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Test the top part of the cupcake for done-ness, but don't go too far down or you'll hit the peppermint bark.
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
2) Add milk, peppermint extract, and the powdered sugar. Mix until everything is incorporated.
3) Test the frosting to see if it's the right consistency. If it's too thin, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.
4) Decorate cupcakes with frosting.  You can use the corners from the squares to decorate...if you haven't eaten them by this point.

I made these twice and the first time was a failure.  I baked them for the 15 minutes The Collegiate Baker said in her instructions and when I tested them, they seemed like they were done, but as they were cooling, they totally collapsed on themselves because the centers weren't done. 

The second time, I left them in for a long time.  I left them in closer to 30 minutes because that was when my toothpick came out completely clean.  With the peppermint in the frosting, I think you lose the surprise element in these cupcakes, but I still think they are delicious.  I think it would be good to incorporate the corner leftovers into the frosting instead of putting in peppermint extract.  I made these for Christmas and couldn't keep my hands off them.  Definitely a great holiday treat. 

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