Chocolate Mint Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Sometimes baking is fun - sometimes it’s a mission much larger. Sometimes it is about turning skeptics into believers. In this case, a friend of mine has expressed their abhorrence for chocolate-mint as a sweet treat flavor pairing. This complete dismissal jolted my competitive spirit and with a sharp “challenge accepted”, I was off on a mission.
My initial thought was that people don’t like this pairing because the mint taste is overwhelming, and invokes the sense of eating chocolate toothpaste (yuck!) I knew that two elements would be crucial to my attempt - subtlety and balance. I was reminded of the time I made chocolate chip cookies using fresh mint leaves instead of peppermint extract, and how nice that subtlety was to enhancing the cookie.
So I picked a up a bunch of fresh mint at the supermarket and infused it with a 60% dark chocolate in a ganache by seeping the mint in heavy cream for 3 hours. The mint added a bright mint tingle that wasn’t manufactured tasting like an extract. Even though it was a strong mint taste, at assembly, the ganache would only represent 10-15% of the cupcake by mass, so this is where the balance comes in.
For the cake, I went with one of my favorite tried-and-true recipes - Devil’s Food Cake from The Food Network only with one slight modification - 1/4 tsp peppermint extract for just a HINT of mintiness in the cake.
Last, a classic cream cheese frosting - no mint included. It would balance the heavy chocolate aspect of this cake. Last, as far as texture, we had a delicate chocolate cake, a dense chocolate-mint ganache, a light and fluffy frosting, and a bit of crunch from a white nonpareil topping.
So did I accomplish my mission? You bet I did! Not only that, but in my distribution, I found two additional skeptics and turned them into believers as well. 3/3 baby!!!