And speaking of ornaments, and deserving things… the famous Yoyo has added some new things to her store; including aprons and credit card holders, and perhaps soon- some doggie blankets. I highly suggest if you need to buy last minute gifts or you’re not seeing family/friends until after Christmas, that you check it out. The dog blankets are amazing, Indy has two and adores them, and I have two of her aprons myself and they’re beautifully made. Not to mention Yoyo’s other merch; like pouches, clutches and credit card holders. They’re all awesome.
This, my last batch of Christmas cupcakes, is an adaptation of a recipe I found in Bon Appétit. That recipe was for a peppermint meringue cake with chocolate buttercream, and it was basically chocolate cake layered with peppermint meringue cake layers, topped with the buttercream. I didn’t want to make a cake, but this recipe was sort of calling out to me. I knew I didn’t want to “layer” my cupcakes, that was way more effort and thought than my lazy ass was willing to put into these (especially with all the other baking/cooking that had to be done), however… I liked the idea of the peppermint meringue and chocolate combination. So I used that concept to make little peppermint “ornaments” for the top of these chocolate cupcakes out of meringue. Every year it seems I make a chocolate/peppermint combo of some sort. I just love it. Don’t hate.
The meringue has to be made the night before you make the cupcakes, so keep that in mind. Also, be sure to use peppermint extract, not mint. The mint is sweeter and not as strong, it’s more like a spearmint-y flavor. You definitely want peppermint for this particular recipe. But again, you can flavor meringue with any flavor you want. And technically, they’re meringue cookies, but I think being that it’s Christmas they should be called “ornaments.”
- 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs (one at a time)
- 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Which you do the following with:
- Cream butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add 4 large eggs (one at a time) and beat each until thoroughly combined, then add chocolate (chocolate should be melted, then cooled for approximately 15 minutes before being added)*. Add and alternate cake flour plus baking soda with buttermilk (room temperature) plus vanilla extract.
- Place cupcake paper into each cup of 2 muffin pans (each pan yielding 12 muffins). Then fill each cup with 1 leveled off scoop of an ice cream scooper.
- Bake at 350° degrees in regular oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
- 1 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups (approx. 1 lb) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
Then do this:
- Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla.
- Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
- Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
- For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
PEPPERMINT MERINGUE “ORNAMENTS”
First ya get some:
- 6 large egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp peppermint extract**
- 1 & ½ cups superfine sugar
Then you’re gonna:
- Preheat your oven to 200° degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until mixture holds soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue hold very still peaks.
- Paint two food coloring stripes on the inside of a prepared pastry bag- either one red, one green, or two of the same color (what I did), one on each side of the bag. Transfer the meringue to the pastry bag, which has been fitted with either a ½ inch plain or star tip, being careful not to smear or smudge the stripes. Or you can simply drop the cookies using two spoons if you’re a plain Jane, and then using a toothpick swirl some food coloring in them before baking. If you are piping them, pipe the cookies onto the paper in a size that would make sense for topping a cupcake- not too large, not too small. They should come out with pretty stripes on them.
- Bake the meringues for about an hour and a half, possibly a little longer, rotating the baking sheet from front to back to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack and leave the meringues in the oven to finish drying overnight.
- Place the “ornaments” on top of the completely cooled and frosted cupcakes.
*If you only have unsweetened cocoa powder, not baking chocolate, and still want to make these cupcakes, you can. For every ounce of baking chocolate required, simply use 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon oil or shortening. Ta-da! If my calculations are correct, which I’m sure they are, that roughly means 6 tablespoons shortening or oil plus ¾ cups of cocoa powder for this recipe. You do not have to melt it together separately. Just add it when it says to add the unsweetened chocolate. Or, alternately, you can just add unsweetened cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. That’s what I did.
**Like I mentioned, you can make these any flavor you want.
These recipes are HUGE. The cupcake recipe gives you about 27+ and the frosting makes enough for that and more. I halved both and ended up with 18 cupcakes and enough frosting for maybe a dozen more. Yeah. Huge recipes.
I’m like, the master of meringue now. For a long time I had problems with it, but now I can make it in my sleep. Lola does most of the work, truth be told. Without her, I had many issues; it wouldn’t stiffen, etc. Now it seems to be a breeze. Yet another endorsement for KitchenAid! Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without mine. So any of you men out there who have wives/girlfriends/daughters/sisters/cousins/aunts/boyfriends/transvestites who happen to want one… buy it for them. Same goes for anyone else- if you women have a man in your life (or woman) who wants one, get it. You will not be sorry. They will forever love you for it, and you’ll benefit from the baked goods and food you get in return.
So on that note, I won’t be back before the big day on Friday, so… I wish you all a very Merry Christmas… and Santa, baby… I’m waiting…