Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Cupcakes

 

 

Suddenly it’s mid-December and the holiday season is upon us.  How in the world did it arrive so quickly this year?

I figured I should post a cupcake recipe since I haven’t posted one in ages.  I forgot how much I love to make them, to be honest with you.  I find that sometimes the process of baking is an extremely cathartic one, and I know a lot of you do, too.  No matter what is going on in the world, I can go into my kitchen and immerse myself in one of the things I love most.

So, during the baking and prepping of the cupcakes, CNN was playing in the background, and I was focusing on being grateful for my two little nephews, Elliott and Oliver.  For the fact that in a few days I will be able to hug them and tell them how I love them oh-so-much.  I thought about a lot of things, really.  I focused on sending love to Connecticut.  I focused on being thankful for so many people who had so quickly formed a solid support network for so many others.  I focused on sending love to my friends with young children and being thankful for their safety.

I can’t say enough how much I have been touched by our fellow Americans in such a sad time.  I know that I’m a piddly little food blog, but I have been amazed by the outpouring of love and encouragement for those who are hurting the most.

So I put a little extra something into these cupcakes.  A little hope.  A little encouragement.  And a lot of love.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Servings: 30 cupcakes

 

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 cup hot water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 and 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter

2 and 1/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the peppermint cream cheese filling:

40 small candy canes, unwrapped and broken into small pieces (*the original recipe called for soft peppermint candies, like old-fashioned peppermint sticks.  I couldn’t find these in the store, so I improvised.)

2 cups powdered sugar

4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons heavy cream

For the peppermint cream cheese buttercream:

1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces (2 bricks) cream cheese, at room temperature

8 cups powdered sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract, to taste

Additional candy cane pieces, for garnish

 

Instructions

1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

3.  Whisk together the cocoa and hot water until smooth.

4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine.

6. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl.

7. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.

8. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

9. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.

10.  Reduce mixer speed to low.

11. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

12.  Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.

13.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

14.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

15. For the peppermint cream cheese filling:  In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the candy cane pieces until the mixture is powdery (this will be very loud.) and the pieces are about the size of coarse sea salt.

16. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered candy canes and 1 cup of the powdered sugar.

17. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the heavy cream on medium speed until combined.

18. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth.

19. Add the candy cane mixture to the mixer bowl, beating on low speed until smooth.  Set aside.

20. For the peppermint cream cheese buttercream frosting:  In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

21.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until smooth.

22. Add the vanilla, mixing well.

23.  Add the peppermint extract, adjusting to taste.

 

Sources:  Cupcakes and frosting from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, peppermint filling adapted from The Kitchn.

 

December 18, 2012 - 8:52 am

Blog is the New Black - These look great!

December 18, 2012 - 10:11 am

Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice - Baking is just therapeutic because it is done with love! :)

December 18, 2012 - 12:55 pm

Meghan - Hi, Shanon! I know you’re doing P90X now and I just wanted to send you my support. I attempted to do it a year and a half ago but because of, well, life I never completed it. I’m trying it again now and it feels great. Best of luck to you!

December 18, 2012 - 2:31 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - These look fabulous!

February 27, 2013 - 12:28 pm
April 30, 2013 - 3:33 pm

Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Cupcakes - [...] For recipe visit:  thecurvycarrot.com [...]

Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Scones

 

Ah, there’s nothing better than a freshly baked breakfast scone and a hot cup of coffee on a drizzly, gray day.  Especially with a Netflix Instant Queue, which happens to be jam-packed with a TV series you are trying to catch up on.

Huddled under an electric blanket, complete with one happy snuggly dog (Scout) and two purring, content cats (The Jinx and Cosmo) all packed like sardines on my couch, this was the beginning of my most recent weekend.  No plans, no obligations, no reason to venture out into the slushy Milwaukee weather.  The only thing I had to do was a mountain of two weeks’ worth of laundry and a kitchen to play around in.  And work out, which I did early, so it was out of the way and long forgotten.

And, so I made these little guys.  And while I have been limiting a lot of my carbs lately,  I didn’t (or, rather, couldn’t) give up an opportunity to try my hands at scones again.  They aren’t something that I necessarily go for, but it was the perfect day for a scone, if there ever was one.

I don’t have a lot of access to fresh fruit right now (see above comment about Milwaukee weather), but I did happen to have a bag of dried cranberries and a random orange, so this was swiftly converted into a more holiday-esque scone.  I loved the taste.  I put some aside in the freezer for another rainy day.  I also made a simple sugary glaze to up the sweetness factor (wasn’t too sure about the tartness potential here), but this is optional.

 

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Scones

Servings:  about 8 large scones

 

Ingredients

For the scones:

1 cup hot water

6 ounces dried cranberries

1 cup whole-grain flour (I used spelt flour, you can substitute whole wheat)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta (you could sub in a lower fat version as well)

1/3 cup heavy cream

Zest from one orange (or as much as you desire)

Decorating sugar (or turbinado sugar), optional

For the glaze (optional):

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons water

 

Instructions

1. For the scones: Place the cranberries in the hot water and set aside for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cranberries have plumped up.  Drain the excess water.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. In the bowl of your food processor (or you can also do this by hand, using a pastry cutter and a spoon), combine the spelt flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, mixing well.

4. With the processor running (or using a pastry cutter), add the butter, one piece at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

5. Add the ricotta and heavy cream, mixing well.

6. Remove the dough from the food processor and transfer to a medium bowl.

7. Gently fold in the cranberries and the orange zest, mixing until just combined.

8. Transfer the dough to a clean, flat surface and pat the dough into a 1″-high disc.  At this point, you can cut the dough into any shape you like.  I used a 3.5″ round cookie cutter, reshaping and cutting out the dough until it was all used.

9. Lightly sprinkle the scones with decorating sugar, if using.

10. Baking until the scones are lightly golden, about 15 minutes or so.  ***Watch them carefully.  I found that I only had to bake mine for about 13 minutes in my particular oven.

11. Remove from the oven and let cool.

12. For the glaze, if using:  Whisk together the powdered sugar and water, adding more sugar or water until you reach your desired consistency.  Lightly drizzle each scone with the glaze and serve immediately.

 

Source:  Adapted from 101cookbooks, as originally adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

December 12, 2012 - 11:19 am

Mr. & Mrs. P - We are on a big cranberry kick lately!! We have to make these!

December 12, 2012 - 3:48 pm

Virginia - I love cranberry-orange scones in general, and now I’m craving these! Today is cold and rainy after a week of sunny and decidedly un-winter-like warm weather. Also, I love your ornament tree/topiary/cone in the background- so cute!

December 12, 2012 - 5:12 pm

srlacy - Thanks, Virginia! The topiary is from Target ($15, I think). I went a little overboard on decorations a couple of weeks ago…. :)

December 17, 2012 - 3:48 pm

a farmer in the dell - these sound fantastic! what a great Christmas morning breakfast. thanks for another lovely recipe!

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

 

I haven’t posted a cookie recipe in a loooooooonnnnggg time. (This whole P90X thing is taking a serious hit on my chocolate intake…but you know what? I’m not craving the sweet stuff that much anymore.  Go figure.)

But, in the holiday spirit (and in a serious ten minute chocolate craving urge), I realized that I had all the ingredients on hand for these cookies.   The ingredients are pantry staples, for the most part (as long as you keep an emergency stash of chocolate chips on board.)

I like gingerbread cookies.  I like chocolate chip cookies.  Consider this the merging of two totally important cookie genres into one fabulous and festive holiday cookie.

Get creative with these.  You could add in white chocolate instead.  Or instead of chips, add in some candied ginger to make them extra-gingery.  Don’t have sprinkles?  I bet these would be fantastic with a little extra frosting on top (there…I said it.)  For a vegan-friendly cookie, use your usual vegan butter substitute and dairy-free chocolate chips.  Delish!

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

Servings:  about 24 cookies

 

Ingredients

1 and 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used a coarser salt here, and I loved the mix of sweet and salty in the cookies.)

1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup sprinkles, white non-pareils, pearl sugar, or whatever you like

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and cocoa until combined.

4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.

5. Reduce the speed to medium and add the brown sugar, mixing until combined.

6. Add the molasses, mixing well.

7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients until just combined.  (*I found that my dough was a smidge on the dry side, so I added a tablespoon or so of water to the mixture.  You need it to be a consistency that is able to be rolled.)

8. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

9. Using your hands or a cookie dough scoop, gently roll the dough into individual balls (each about 1.5 inches or so in diameter.)

10. Gently roll the top of each dough ball in the sprinkles (or whatever you are using) and place the balls (sugar side up) on the prepared baking sheet.

11. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes, until the surfaces just begin to crack.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Source:  King Arthur Flour Company.

 

December 5, 2012 - 9:36 am

Jillian {Her Split Ends} - um…YUMM!!! I can’t wait to try these!! I’m going to try with GF flour…i’ll report back ;)

Cheers
~ Jillian
http://www.hersplitends.com

December 6, 2012 - 8:56 pm

Laurel - This look great. I love the combo of ginger and chocolate. How is p90x going? I am thinking of trying it.

December 7, 2012 - 11:49 am

srlacy - Hey Laurel-

P90X is going-almost halfway done now! It’s absolutely incredible and I can’t believe the results I am seeing already, but I am also working my buns off (literally!) You should totally try it!

December 11, 2012 - 11:37 pm

Molly @ Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips - This look delicious! That’s awesome that P90X is going so well for you! I didn’t have the willpower to stick with it when I tried it! go you!

December 17, 2012 - 12:42 pm

JenK - Thanks for the recipe. I made these last weekend and they are delicious!