For her tenth birthday this year, Eva asked for chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. She also asked for balayage highlights, a new purse and some tasteful pieces of jewelry, so what I thought she meant regarding the cupcakes was a very sophisticated dark chocolate cake with swirls of mint buttercream. What she actually meant were monster cupcakes with green icing hair, googly eyes and sprinkles. We compromised. I made the chocolate cupcakes with mint swirls and she decorated hers with monster eyes and sprinkles. Ten is like that. You get to be both almost grown-up and still a child at the same time. It’s good to be ten.
These cakes are based on my grandmother’s recipe for Devil’s food cake. It’s an old-fashioned recipe which yields a lusciously moist and delicate cake. The method works perfectly at high altitude; however, I haven’t tested it at lower elevations.
I should also mention that I used pure peppermint oil for the icing. The oil is highly concentrated – much stronger than peppermint extract. If you only have peppermint extract, I recommend using about 3 times more than what I’ve noted in the recipe, but taste as you go.
Chocolate cupcakes with mint buttercream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup all natural, unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 16 cupcake molds with paper liners and set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside to allow the milk to curdle. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Beat half the flour into the butter, then beat in half the milk mixture. Add the remaining flour followed by the remaining milk and mix until smooth. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and beat into the batter until smooth. Evenly divide the batter among the cupcake pans, filling each mold about 2/3rds of the way full. Bake for 20-21 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Mint buttercream icing
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 – 3 TBSP whole milk
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp food-grade peppermint oil (note: oil is 4x stronger than extract. If using extract, increase to 1/2 tsp.)
1 – 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in 2 cups of sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk. Add the remaining 2 cups of sugar and if the icing seems too stiff, add the additional tablespoon of milk. Add the salt, peppermint oil and color (if using). Continue beating for a minute or two longer, until the icing is fluffy. Transfer the icing to a piping bag to frost the cupcakes.