Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

These days I bring cupcakes to every family gathering and church potluck imaginable. I have four cupcake recipe books. (A tad excessive?!) I'm no Magnolia, but I'm having a ball. A few people who have seen me tote my cupcake carrier to multiple events have asked me: "So are you the cupcake lady? I mean, how did you get so in to cupcakes?"

The answer: When I was a new mother, my whole life felt mixed up. I had a new identity, and didn't know what to do with it. I needed a creative outlet. One night, on a Barnes&Noble date with my husband, I saw a cupcakes book on the clearance table. I picked it up and flipped through pages and pages of fondant, chocolate, and beautiful little cakes. "Maybe I could do this?" I suggested to my husband tentatively. "Of course you could," he encouraged. And so, armed with my new book and its inspiration, we drove home and started planning our Blaine's first birthday party. For his special day I made my first homemade frosting ever and I thought I was Julia Child! What a triumph! For me, cupcakes are as charming as they get, and have become symbolic to me in my quest to own my identity as stay-at-home-mother and homemaker.

And so, I give you...Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes:

I love to try new cake recipes, but the truth is, it's hard to find a homemade cupcake that isn't a bit dry or crumbly. I'm big on using a Betty Crocker cake mix (which even Alton Brown
encourages!), but am four-square against anything but homemade frosting. It doesn't take long to make, but it makes a HUGE difference! These particular cupcakes are my current favorite. Very simple, sooo delish.

For the cakes:
Bake Devil's Food cupcakes according to the box directions, adding one teaspoon of peppermint extract to the batter.

For the frosting:
Mix 3 sticks of soft butter, 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract, and a few drops of green food coloring.

To decorate:
Fill a pastry bag with the frosting. (A gallon-sized ziploc works great--just snip a hole in one corner of the bag.) Swirl the frosting around the cake--I like to start on the outside and work my way in. Finally, drop a little handful of chocolate chips on top. (I recommend using a good brand of chocolate chips for this, as generic chips often have an uneven color.)

One last tip:
I am in love with dark brown baking cups! They make the cupcakes look so much nicer than your average pastel baking cups. You can find them through various online sources, such as Petal Crafts.


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