Friday, December 16, 2011
Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cupcakes (GF)
As many of you probably know, "National Cupcake Day" was a big trending topic on Twitter yesterday. In recognition of this special day loved by cupcake connoisseurs everywhere, I decided to do a Christmas Cupcake post.
These cupcakes are a deliciously moist chocolate cake filled with peppermint pastry cream and topped with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. If you're an avid pinterest user, or just follow a lot of baking blogs, you've probably seen these frosted Christmas tree cupcakes. They're festive and clever, as well as super easy to make.
Another easy and impressive cupcake floating around the web are these "North Pole" cupcakes. I've made both versions with purposefully non-traditional Christmas colors, just because I like that sort of thing.
For the Chocolate Cupcakes Makes 2 dozen cupcakes
2/3 cup superfine sweet rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flours, starch, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer, beat eggs with paddle attachment until foamy. Add sugar and mix for another 5-6 minutes until thick and fluffy.
While eggs are mixing, heat milk and butter on stovetop until butter melts.
Reduce mixer speed to low and pour in hot milk/butter. Add flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time until combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
For the Peppermint Pastry Cream:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
8-9 candy canes, broken up into large pieces
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornstarch
1-2 drops pink food coloring
Heat the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and candy canes in a small saucepan over medium heat until cream is hot and bubbly and candy canes are almost all melted. Strain mixture to remove leftover hard pieces of candy and place back in sauce pan. Add food coloring.
Whisk together sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Slowly add in hot cream mixture, whisking continuously to temper the eggs. Add mixture back into sauce pan and heat longer (if necessary) until thickened. Strain one more time through sieve and place in fridge, covered with wax paper or plastic until fully cooled.
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 sticks butter, unsalted
Combine egg whites and sugar in heat resistant bowl. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water, creating a "double boiler" and continuously whisk until egg white mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove bowl from water and whisk egg whites/sugar using hand mixer or stand mixer until thick and fully cooled. Once fully cooled, add butter in piece by piece, mixing well after each addition. Once butter is fully incorporated, switch to paddle attachment and add vanilla extract. Mix for 2-3 minutes.
Using a small paring knife, cut out the center of each cupcake. Fill each cupcake with pastry cream by using a plastic bag with the corner cut or a pastry bag. Once all cupcakes are filled, decorate as follows.
For the North Pole Cupcakes
Preferably the night before decorating the cupcakes, cut out small squares of white fondant and allow to dry (lightly covered) overnight. Using an edible food pen, write "North Pole" on each square.
Using candy sticks or candy canes of your choice, stick into center of frosted cupcake. Attach "sign" to each candy cane with a bit of melting chocolate.
For the White Christmas Tree Cupcakes
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, frost each cupcake starting from the outside rim of the cupcake and make each subsequent layer narrower, so that the frosting resembles a tree shape. Create ornaments by using round or ball sprinkles of your choice (you can also cut small circles with fondant). The star topper was created by cutting small stars out of rolled marshmallow fondant. The stars were painted with a thin layer of corn syrup and rubbed into edible glitter.