When it comes to adding flavoring to baked goods, it's common to reach for an extract or concentrated flavoring. But when you use fresh herbs, batters and icings have a better, more natural flavor. With the use of fresh mint leaves in these Chocolate Mint cupcakes, the flavoring is subtle and perfect. The texture is denser than cupcakes from your average box mix, and holds up well to an array of frostings and decorations.
Yield: 16 cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup, chocolate mint leaves, very finely chopped
- Chocolate Swiss Meringue Frosting (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together to break up any clumps, then set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter with a mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and whip until fluffy, about 2 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs, fully mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and mix just until combined.
- To the butter mixture, add ⅓ of the flour mixture. Turn the mixer speed on low, mixing only until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Don't worry if there are still some dry portions. Add in half the milk and mix until just incorporated. Continue with an additional third of the flour, then remaining milk. Add in the chopped mint with the last installment of flour. The batter will be thicker than your typical store-bought cake mix, and somewhat stiff and fluffy, but it should not seem dry. If it does, add an additional tablespoon or two of milk. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for three more rotations.
- Line a cupcake pan with liners and spoon in the batter until each cup is ¾ full. (An ice cream scoop with a thumb release works very well for dishing the batter.) Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and carefully take them out of the pan, placing them on a cake rack. Allow cupcakes to fully cool. Frost with Chocolate Swiss Meringue or another frosting and decorate as desired.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Frosting
- 4 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 egg whites
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Set a medium pot filled ¾ full with water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place dark chocolate in a bowl big enough to rest on the rim of the pot on its own, and set the bowl over the simmering water. Decrease heat to medium-low if the water begin to boil at any point. Leave the bowl over the water, stirring the chocolate occasionally, until all pieces are melted. Remove and set aside to cool.
In another large bowl that will also sit on the pot's rim, add egg white and sugar. Beat on low speed with an electric hand mixer until just combined. Place the bowl over the simmering water and continue mixing on low speed until sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes. (To test, dip your finger in the egg whites and rub it between your finger and thumb; if you feel any grit, continue mixing for an additional 30 seconds.) When sugar is dissolved, remove the bowl from the pan and turn off the heat. Mix egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. You can test the egg whites to see if they are stiff by turning off the mixer and removing the beater straight up and out of the bowl. If the peaks formed do not bend on the ends, you have achieved the proper stiffness and it's time to add the butter.
With the mixer on medium speed, add vanilla to the egg whites. Next, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing for a several seconds between additions, until all butter is added. Mix for 30 more seconds to ensure the butter is fully incorporated. (If the frosting looks slightly lumpy at this point, it's okay; it will come together in just a minute.) Turn off mixer and add melted chocolate to the egg white mixture. Beat on medium speed until frosting is smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary and mix again if needed.
The frosting can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. If refrigerated, remove icing an hour or more prior to use so that it will soften.
Featured Ingredient: Chocolate Mint
There are many varieties of mint, each with a unique flavor hint. Chocolate mint is sweeter than peppermint and its flavor has a suggestion of chocolate. It complements a large variety of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, and is excellent in baked goods and drinks. Mint will grow vigorously and wildly when planted in the ground, but it also grows very well in containers. Let us teach you the best ways to grow your own mint.Recipe by Sarah Ward, creator of the blog of the dirt