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The problem with being known amongst family and friends as the cupcake queen is that people rarely let you make them anything else.

“Your birthday is coming up! Can I make you a fancy cake? A scrumptous pie? A celebratory soufflé?”

“Yeah, that would be so nice! Or.. you know what would be even better? Cupcakes.”

Never one to deprive the people of what the people want, you can trust that cupcakes will be a recurring theme on this blog. And I’m okay with that. I hold them near and dear to my heart, and to be honest they’re my favorite thing to dream up and bake. Bonus points for how well they photograph. I mean, do you know many different photos it took to make that yummy slop of Moroccan chicken look pretty? Cupcakes, on the other hand, are like the Heidi Klum of food. You can shoot them in any type of lighting at any type of angle and they still make a mockery of the other lowly, peasant foods.

This batch of little beauties was for my cousin’s 18th birthday. He requested Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes, and I was thrilled. Mint/Chocolate is my favorite sweet combination, and since I’m always making cupcakes for others and not for me, I’ve never made a mint chocolate cupcake before. I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe, which has been worked and re-worked for about a year now. It’s a bit denser than some chocolate cake recipes, but that makes it structurally sound enough to hold a gooey yummy filling—a fair trade off in my book. The cupcakes are filled with a mini chocolate chip and junior-mint-like filling, topped with a peppermint cream cheese/buttercream hybrid frosting, and then sprinkled with pieces of Andes mints. I call the frosting a hybrid, because my typical cream cheese frosting has much less butter in it than what I used here. My goal for the frosting was to get it to taste like those buttery, melt-y after dinner mints—or funeral mints as I so darkly call them, since the local funeral homes around here have the best after dinner mints I’ve ever had. Glass half full, right?

The components of these cupcakes are really basic. I have a lot of people say, “I can’t make those.” But I assure you, I have no real special talent here, just a little bit of patience. It took me about 1.5 hours from beginning to end to make and assemble these bad boys, with a little bit of down time in between. So it’s a bit of a project, but not one that requires any special skills. Put on that apron, turn up your favorite tunes, and give it a try!

Happy baking!

The Ingredients

Yields cake, filling, and frosting for 24 cupcakes
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp peppermint extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring (optional)
Pieces of Andes Mints to top (optional)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp half and half
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

The Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 24 cupcakes tin.
  2. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. If your butter is at room temperature, this should only take about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat lightly after each egg until incorporated. Avoid overbeating the batter.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

  6. Add the dry ingredient to the egg/butter/sugar mixture ½ cup at a time, alternating with ¼ of the milk. You should begin and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and smooth, but avoid over-mixing here.

  7. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with the batter. Cakes will rise a little more than most in the oven, so don’t overfill. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  8. While the cupcakes are baking, begin working on the Filling. In a small mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar, half and half, and peppermint extract and mix with a fork. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Mixture should be kind of runny, as it will thicken in the cupcakes.

  9. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow cooling on a rack.

  10. While the cupcakes are cooling, begin making the frosting. Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. If your ingredients are at room temperature, this should not take long. Add the peppermint extract and the green food coloring, and mix until the food coloring has a consistent color.

  11. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing until each cup has been incorporated.

  12. Once the cupcakes are cool, use the small side of a melon baller to remove the center of the cupcake.

  13. Fill the cupcakes with 1-2 tsp of the filling.

  14. Top the cupcake with the peppermint frosting. And sprinkle with Andes mints.

All done! Enjoy!