Now that the holiday season is officially over, it's time to clean out my holiday confection stash, and my first creation is a candy cane cupcake: a chocolate peppermint cupcake with a candy cane cookie crust filled with Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark.
It's been quite a while since I last posted anything, and that would have to be credited with our trip to Chicago over the holidays. Yes. We went to Chicago (aka the Polar Vortex). Let's just say our 2-week visit was filled with sub-zero temperatures, a snowstorm, and everyone getting various viruses (including the-ever-festive pink eye). We've been home in New England for the past week, and only now do I feel like we're getting back to normal. Talk about needing a vacation after a vacation.
On to more pleasant news, the chocolate cupcake recipe I used for these candy cane cupcakes is my new favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. It's rich, chocolaty and moist. Plus, every single ingredient in these cupcakes is probably something you already have in your pantry or fridge.
I love chocolate and peppermint together, so it's not surprising that I made a similar cupcake last year. You can check out last year's version here.
This year's version features these ever-loved holiday confections:
Since I wanted the cupcakes to not only taste like candy canes, but to look like them as well, I used a food-only paintbrush, and painted stripes of red food color (I used the gel food color) on the inside of my pastry bag. Then I filled the pasty bag with my vanilla frosting, and when I piped, voila, candy-cane stripes!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones. Now on to the Winter Olympics, the Super Bowl, and Valentine's Day!
Candy Cane Cupcakes
Cupcake Recipe Adapted from Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcake Recipes
Ingredients for the Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 tsp peppermint extract
3/4 cup milk
1 tbs vinegar (distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar)
1 bar of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark with Dark Chocolate
Crushed candy canes
Ingredients for the Candy Cane Cookie Crust
10 Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cookies
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for the Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs cream or whole milk
1/8 tsp salt
Red gel food color
Instructions for the Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard, 12 cupcake tin with paper liners.
Crush the cookies into fine crumbs (either in the food processor or use a zip-top bag and a rolling pin to crush the cookies). Mix the crumbs with the melted butter. Place a generous tablespoon in the bottom of each cupcake liner, patting the mixture down to form a crust. Place the cupcake tin in the fridge while mixing the batter to allow the crust to harden before baking.
Mix the milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Allow the mix to separate.
In a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
Place the oil in a large bowl. Slowly add the sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the egg and extracts. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture. Mix until smooth.
Fill each cupcake tin 2/3 full.
Submerge a piece (the size is your choice) of the peppermint bark in the middle of each cupcake.
Bake for 22 to 27 minutes or when the tops of the cupcakes spring back with lightly touched.
Instructions for the Vanilla Frosting
Beat the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix the vanilla, cream and salt in a small bowl until the salt dissolves.
Add the vanilla mixture and beat until fluffy.
To Assemble the Cupcakes
Once the cupcakes are cool, spread the melted chocolate on the rim of the cupcakes. Roll the chocolate in the candy cane pieces.
Then place your desired tip in a piping bag.
Using a food-only paintbrush, dip the paintbrush in a bit of red-gel food color. Starting at the narrow end of the piping bag, drag the brush in a straight line until the top of the bag.
Carefully folding the bag over to make a cuff, carefully fill the bag with the frosting. Pipe frosting as usual.
Yields one dozen standard-sized cupcakes
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