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The best laid plans…

December 31, 2009

of mice and men often go awry.  Or the best prepared plans of Paula, amateur baker and cook, often get beaten by unruly buttercream!

I laid out my plans to make two different cupcakes for a New Year’s Eve party my in-laws host, thinking “What a great way to start my blog – champagne and mint-filled brownie cupcakes!”  So excited, I did trial runs to test out the champagne cake and buttercream frostings.  (This is why you want to live nearby… I use my neighbors as guinea pigs!  I even had one join Greg & I in a blind tasting of frostings!)

The results were simply fabulous!…the champagne cupcakes were so light and fluffy, my husband couldn’t stop talking about them!  The winning frosting, albeit a little TOO boozy (yes there is such a thing), would be ideal and look accordingly bedazzled with the gold dust or sprinkles I had in mind and I would try my hand at the swirled Peppermint-Stripe buttercream I was confident I could tackle.

I set out with recipes in hand, confident in my recipes, having made them successfully before.  It was not my night, however, and the buttercream gods laughed at me.  The bakery store was closed and no gold dust or sprinkles could be found; the Peppermint-Stripe buttercream merely made countless smears of red on the counter, cooling rack, and god knows where else in my attempts to get it swirl properly.

Nevertheless, I present to you the first two (yes, not one, but two!) recipes of this blog.  No the buttercream didn’t turn out all that well, and neither did the pictures. (It’s winter in Wisconsin… we don’t get much good daylight to take pictures in!) 

The buttercream disaster is a fitting place to start this blog.  Because there will be more failed attempts no doubt, but the blog must go on. 

Without further ado, the recipes:

Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes


Source: TampaBay blog, taken from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes (Potter, 2009)

(My comments are italicized.)

  • 8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. all-purprose flour
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 12 small peppermint patties (such as York)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners. Place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until just melted, 4 to 5 minutes. (I think mine took longer.)

Remove from the heat. Whisk in the sugar and salt until mixture is smooth, whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa just until smooth.

Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each lined cup.  (I found this to be too much the first time and adjusted accordingly the second time; try to put enough batter to cover the bottom of the liner, but not so much as to be even half full.)  Place 1 peppermint patty on top, gently pressing into batter. Top with two tablespoons batter, covering patty completely. (Again… this seemed to be WAY too much, so adjust accordingly.)  Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted halfway into centers (above mint patty) comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. (I never rotated, and found that testing the cupcakes “above the patty” was just about impossible. LOL  So I baked ~32-35 minutes until the tops were cracked and crusty as pictured in the blog.)  Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

I topped these with Standard Buttercream (google it because I just estimated butter to powdered sugar to milk and added peppermint extract.)  The first time I made them, I dyed the frosting green since we were attending a Packer party.  This time, I attempted to swirl the white buttercream with red-dyed buttercream, which was less successful.  The original recipe also says this makes 30 cupcakes, but there was NO WAY… this made right about 12 cupcakes and you had to be careful not to overfill in order to hit the full 12.


Champagne Cake

Source: The Rookie Chef who adapted it from

  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2/3 c. butter (~10.75 T.), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. champagne
  • 6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

In a large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites. Pour into prepared pan.  (Or cupcakes like I did.)

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  (Made ~24 cupcakes.)

Again, my apologies, but I didn’t measure anything in the frosting (this is becoming a habit of mine).  Cream some softened, unsalted butter with powdered sugar (adding a little as you go).  I added a little vanilla extract and where I’d normally use some milk, I used champagne until a desired consistency was achieved.  Of course,… that worked the first time but not so much the second (as evidenced by the melted looking frosting in the picture above.)

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