Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes

Like many people these days, I have a love of cupcakes.  Individually portioned cakey, frostingy goodness...what's not to love?  Every year I decorate our tree with candy canes and usually end up throwing them away at the end of the holidays.  Wasteful, I know.  So this year, I decided to try something different and used the candy canes to MAKE food with...genius, I know.  The first round of candy canes were crushed so that I could coat my Peppermint Truffles in festive peppermint goodness :).

This second recipe that I tried comes from a bakery called Sprinkles.  Yes, I bet you've heard of them before because they basically invented the whole cupcake craze as we know it today.  But, at $3.25 each or $36/dozen it'd be an expensive (and gut busting) habit to have.  So imagine my suprise when I found a recipe to their famous Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes on Oprah's website!

After doing some reasearch, I realized the importance of using room temperature baking goods when the recipe specifies.  I always thought it was just to make life more difficult but really it's because room temperature butter creams easier and room temperature eggs fluff up more, resulting in a light and airy cake.  While frosting these puppies, I learned just how delicate they really are!  Definitely following  baking instructions to a T from now on!  By the way, I also might halve the frosting recipe next time as even when I felt like I was frosting each cupcake with a lot, I  still had tons leftover!  For now, I'll leave the recipe as it was originally's for the frosting lovers (like my husband!) out there!

So take a look at my finished product below and for those that were my taste testing guinea pigs, leavea comment.  Think I can sell my cupcakes?  I'll take cash, check, or credit card - thanks!

Vanilla-Peppermint Cupcakes
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Yields: 1 Dozen


For the Cupcake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk , room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites , room temperature
For the Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , firm but not cold
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar , sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp. milk

To make cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.
To make frosting:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the extracts and milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.
To frost:
  1. Scoop a generous amount of frosting on top of a cooled cupcake (used a heaping tablespoon...apparently this wasn't generous enough!). Hold the cupcake in one hand and with the other hand use a small offset spatula to smooth the frosting over the entire top of the cupcake. To achieve the Sprinkles look, use the length of the spatula to create large swirls around the circumference of the cupcake. Or for a more homespun and rustic quality, use the tip of the spatula to create small ridges and waves in the frosting.
  2. Be careful to handle the cupcake with care and not grip it too tightly, which can crush the delicate cake. In general, the less the cupcake is handled, the better. An experienced Sprinkles froster can frost a cupcake with only a few turns of the spatula!
  3. Top with crushed candy canes!
Source: Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes; as seen on Oprah

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