Thursday, 11 April 2013

After Eight (Chocolate and Peppermint) Cupcakes

So the other week the fiancĂ© came home with a request from my willing taste testers in Dundee: After Eight cupcakes.  Well, I like a challenge and this was a chance to get creative, although in theory this was a fairly simple thing.  After Eights meant I would be doing chocolate and peppermint.  I knew I would definitely want a chocolate cake and ideally a very dark chocolate one.  Then I would put something peppermint in the centre.  I would also make peppermint buttercream.  Originally I was going to just drizzle dark chocolate on top but then thought it would be cool to cover the buttercream completely in chocolate instead, just to give a further impression of an After Eight.  

Now I've never dipped buttercream in chocolate before so I wasn't sure how well it would turn out.  I knew I had to chill it beforehand or it would melt when it got dipped.  I also figured it would be easier to coat the whole thing if the buttercream was piped flat against the top of the cake, rather than the usual towering swirl I do.  This all worked out fine but with every cake I had gaps in the chocolate.  I did fill as much in as possible by dripping chocolate into the gaps with a spoon but still couldn't get a perfect covering.  As a result I thought it looked a bit messy.  My testers though thought they were some of my prettiest cakes and that the slightly messy chocolate top was very reminiscent of the After Eight's patterning.

I was so glad I was able to get green cases to go with these.  It really pulls the whole design together.  I really doubted I was going to have them in time but then I luckily got offered a trip out to Rejects in Kirkcaldy and they have a cookery/baking section.  So I raided the cases they had for sale and found a set of 'Buffin' cases in five colours including green.  Rather a perfect green too.  The cases also turned out to be an ideal size for the chocolate cake recipe I chose to use.  The name 'Buffin' amuses me.  Apparently it's bigger than a bun case (which I refer to as a cupcake case) but not quite as big as a muffin case.  They're quite tall and a bit narrow but very cool.  I was very pleased with them.  I had originally wanted foil cases but these ones worked out perfectly and probably looked better overall.  If you can get green cases for these cakes, I recommend doing so.

So what was the result?  Perfect.  That's what I was told.  These cakes were perfect.  A soft but crumbly cake that was really dark with the perfect amount of peppermint running all the way through.  Apparently they tasted just like an After Eight.  I was rather proud.  
Now I really wish I had gotten better looking photos.  I just could not find a way to pose these that I was happy with.

Recipe - makes 12

Cakes - adapted from Foods of Our Lives:
  • 115g/4oz butter
  • 60g/2oz dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
  • 45g/1.5oz cocoa powder (Bournville cocoa for me)
  • 105g/3.75oz plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g/5.25oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 115ml/4fl.oz sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with 'buffin' cases (or muffin if you can't find 'buffin').
  2. Put the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a glass bowl and place over a saucepan of gently simmering water.  Stir until the butter and chocolate have melted and the mixture is smooth.  Whisk if you need to.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl.
  4. In a separate, larger bowl beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until pale and frothy.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mix and stir in until fully incorporated.
  6. Add a third of the flour mixture and stir in.
  7. Now add the sou cream, mix, and then the rest of the flour.  Beat until smooth.
  8. Divide the batter evenly amongst the cases.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are risen and the tops are springy.  A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • 115g/4oz icing sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 25ml/1fl.oz water
  • Green, blue food colouring
  1. Put the icing sugar, peppermint extract, a couple of drops of green and the tiniest amount of blue colouring into a small bowl.
  2. Add a tablespoon of the water and mix in until smooth.
  3. Add the rest of the water a little at a time, mixing after each addition until you get a smooth but fairly runny paste.
  4. Cut a core out of the cooled cupcakes and put about a teaspoonful of the filling into each one.  Replace the cores.
Mint Buttercream:
  • 170g/6oz butter
  • 340g/12oz icing sugar
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp water
  • Green, blue, white(optional) food colouring
  1. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the icing sugar, peppermint extract and water and beat together until smooth.
  3. Add a few drops of green, one blue and a little white if using and mix until colour is evenly spread through.
  4. Put the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
  5. Pipe a flat spiral that completely covers the top of each cake.
  6. Put cakes in the fridge to chill for 2-3 hours to allow the buttercream to firm up.
Chocolate top:
  • 170g/6oz dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's 70% cocoa) 
  1. Once the buttercream is firm, break up the chocolate and melt in a glass bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water.
  2. Take the cakes out of the fridge one at a time, hold by the base and dip into the chocolate, submerging the buttercream up to the edge of the case.
  3. Remove and shake gently over the bowl to get rid of any excess chocolate.
  4. Turn right way up and use a small spoon to drizzle chocolate into any exposed gaps.  You want to hide as much buttercream as possible.
  5. Leave on a wire rack to set.

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