Thursday, April 14, 2011

Andes Mint Chocolate Cupcake

I actually made these Andes Mint Chocolate cupcakes the same day as the Peanut Butter Ball cupcakes. My office mate and friend asked me if I would make cupcakes on Friday, either a peanut butter chocolate cupcake, or a mint chocolate cupcake, so I decided to do half and half. If you want to make a couple of flavors of cupcakes for a party or special event, these are two good recipes to use together to make less work for you, and give your guests two equally delicious, but different options.

These cupcakes are a chocolate cake base, filled with Andes chocolate ganache (made with actual Andes mints) and topped with a white chocolate mint swiss meringue buttercream. I prefer using swiss meringue buttercream when the rest of the cupcake (i.e. ganache) is on the richer side of the spectrum, rather than using a heavier American or French buttercream.

For the cupcakes- refer to chocolate cake recipe used in Peanut Butter Ball Cupcakes.

For the Andes Mint Ganache:

-2 4.67 ounce packages Andes Parfait Thins (56 mints)
-1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
-1-2 ounces good quality dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet chocolate
-1 cup cream
1 tbsp butter

HINT: I used a mixture of chocolate because I didn't want the ganache to be overwhelmingly sweet or minty, but Andes mints are pretty well balanced, so you should be able to simply use 2.5 packages of just the mints if you don't have other chocolate on hand.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan placed on the stove on medium-low heat. When the cream becomes bubbly on the sides of the pan, turn the heat off. Stir in the chocolate. Once totally smooth, add the butter and stir until fully mixed. Set aside to cool.

For the White Chocolate Ganache:

-4 oz good quality white chocolate
-1/2 cup cream
-1 tbsp butter

Follow same process as above, but place in fridge immediately after making so that mixture becomes cold and more solidified.

For the White Chocolate Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

-4 large egg whites
-2/3 cup granulated sugar
-3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
-White Chocolate Ganache
-2 tsp mint extract
-blue and green food coloring (I used one drop teal Americolor and two drops green)

NOTE: If you have or can find creme de menthe extract or liqueur, it would be tasty to use that instead of plain mint extract. Also, in that case, you could probably just leave out the white chocolate and skip a step without skimping on Andes flavor.

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and bring to a light boil. Combine egg whites and sugar in heat proof mixing bowl and place mixing bowl in simmering water. Whisk mixture together over heat until sugar is fully dissolved and it measures 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Place mixing bowl on stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk until mixture forms a fluffy meringue and is fully cooled. Mix in butter a piece at a time, whisking well after each addition. Switch to a paddle attachment and mix for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the mint extract, cold white chocolate ganache, and food coloring and mix for another minute.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Core each cooled cupcake with a paring knife. Cut the corner off of a large freezer bag (or use a pastry bag without a tip) and fill bag with ganache. Pipe ganache into the cavity of each cupcake. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake and decorate as desired.

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