Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

We're in the home stretch now.



Tomorrow is Christmas eve. Usually that means a flurry of preparations and gift wrapping for me, but this year is different. The cookies are baked. The presents are wrapped. I've already done a mini pre-Christmas of sorts with my family in Vancouver and today we flew to Calgary to spend the holiday with the boys family. It's a different sort of Christmas for sure...

No stockings hung by the chimney. No rambunctios little brothers bouncing off the walls. No Christmas morning video cameras. No turkey and cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce. It's a first for me and I'm trying to be open to new things. Trying to see that the spirit of the holidays lies in all sorts of traditions. Becoming a part of a new family, or trying to anyway, can be a challenging thing. I know a lot of people must be going through that around the holidays. Compromises must be made on all sides, and I know for myself, I could probably stand to give a little more. So I'm working on smiling. On being gracious. And on appreciating these people I am so lucky to have in my life and loving them for who they are. 

And of course, there are still cookies. It can't be all that bad.  




So these cupcakes... they are scrumptious little things. And I had really really REALLY wanted this post to be up days ago but, well... Something got in the way. A casserole dish to be exact.   I'm not even sure how to explain this other than that... my clumsiness really knows no bounds. It is so ridiculous. But simply put, I've spent the last few days with one heck of a headache and a mild concussion. I'm a little bit grumpy and a lot ashamed. That is all.

I made these little treats for a coworker who is just the tiniest bit OBSESSED with the Starbucks white chocolate peppermint mocha, and who also happens to have a December Birthday. They were quite minty, so I've dialled back the peppermint extract in the recipe below - but if you really love mint feel free to up it to 1 1/2 teaspoons, or even to replace the vanilla with more mint.  The light coffee cake counteracts the sweetness of the frosting perfectly, they were a big hit around the office. 




Latte Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder ( I used 2 packets Starbucks via)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and instant coffee. Set aside.

2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat them together on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well combined. Use a liquid measuring cup to combine the coffee, milk, and vanilla.

3. Keep the  mixer on low speed as you gradually add the remaining ingredients to the butter mixture. Alternate the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture, mixing well after each addition, until batter is well combined and no lumps remain.

4. Spoon evenly into muffin wells - an ice cream scoop is great for this! Bake the cupcakes 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.


White Chocolate Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting 


Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsly chopped
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
pinch salt
3 cups icing sugar, sifted

Directions

1. Set a small bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, add the chopped chocolate and stir gently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. You can also melt chocolate in the microwave.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, whip butter until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate to the butter and beat to combine.

3. Add the extracts and salt, mixing well. Carefully add in the sifted sugar, in 1 cup increments, mixing on low speed after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium high and beat until well combined. Transfer icing to a piping bag and top each cupcake with a generous swirl of frosting, and decorations of your choice. I used white chocolate peppermint M&M's.


Merry Christmas friends! Peace and love to you and all of your families.

XOXO



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