Do I dare say that spring is finally on its way?
Let's see: It's the middle of March. Daylight savings is in full swing, and today was my third day in a row running outside with the baby. So, with a bit of healthy New England skepticism, I would say yes. Spring is slowly, but surely, on its way.
So, why not post a recipe for peppermint cupcakes?
I know what you're probably thinking. Peppermint cupcakes and spring don't really go together. The idea to make these came about while I was attempting to de-clutter the pantry, and I came across these:
I vaguely remember shoving these holiday confections in a hard-to-reach corner of the pantry in an attempt to save myself from completely consuming them within the 24 hours after they were purchased, especially the Candy Cane Joe-Joe's from Trader Joe's. My husband and I have been known to eat our way through one of these boxes in less than two days.
For those of you who have yet to experience a Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookie I have to apologize to you because you're missing out on a spectacularly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cookie. The cookie itself is a dark, chocolate flavor that isn't too sweet, and the filling is creamy with specks of peppermint candy cane mixed into it. It's crisp and creamy, chocolaty and minty all at the same time without being overly sweet.
Trader Joe's only sells these around the winter holidays, and they've been known to sell out of them even before the conclusion of the holiday season. Apparently people horde them (buying dozens of boxes at a time), and make a tidy profit by selling them on Ebay after they're sold out in the stores.
If I had dozens of these cookies, I wouldn't sell them. I'd eat them all!
In order to save myself from inhaling box that I did find, I knew I wanted to use them to bake something and share the deliciousness with my family and friends. So, I decided to make some rich, chocolate peppermint cupcakes with a crisp cookie crust and a Hershey's Kiss Candy Cane center, topped with a light and fluffy vanilla frosting.
Of course my munchkin helped me mix the dry ingredients.
Her favorite job was placing the candy cane sandwich cookies into the cupcake liners.
After baking the cupcakes, I dipped the edges in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candies and topped it off with vanilla frosting and a piece of the candy cane sandwich cookie.
This is what they look like on the inside.
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Candy Cane Joe-Joe's
Adapted from Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
3/4 tbs white vinegar
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
18 Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookies
18 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard size cupcake tin with paper liners.
Mix the milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Let it stand (the milk will separate).
Sift the cocoa, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, warm water, milk and vinegar mixture, oil, and peppermint extract. Mix until smooth.
Place one Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookie on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full, place an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss Candy Cane on top of the batter and push it into the batter until the candy is completely covered with batter. The cookie crust will prevent the Hershey's Kiss from sinking completely to the bottom of the cupcake.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the baking time.
Yields 18 standard size cupcakes
Creamy Vanilla Frosting
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbs milk or cream
1/2 tsp salt
Cream the butter until soft and fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar and beat again until fluffy.
Mix the salt, vanilla, and milk (or cream) until the salt is dissolved. Add the vanilla mixture to the butter and sugar. Beat until creamy.
Assembling the cupcakes
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips melted
ten to fifteen peppermint candies crushed
five Candy Cane Joe-Joe's quartered with a serrated knife
Dip the edges of the completely cooled cupcake into the melted chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm, dip the edge of the cupcake into the crushed peppermint candies.
Frost the cupcakes with the vanilla frosting. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and top with a piece of a Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookie.