2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk (preferably whole milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
3 large egg whites
¾ cups granulated sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
10 to 12 (about 1/3 cup) soft peppermint candies, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one standard 12-cup muffin pan; line with paper cupcake liners.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, melt white chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Or, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool slightly.
Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water. See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir the milk, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add egg and egg white, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: crack the egg and egg white into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium and beat about one minute to blend in the eggs
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the melted and cooled white chocolate into the batter.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill about 2/3 full, using about ¼ cup of batter per cup.
Tip: Avoid over-filling the liners which may cause the batter to run-over the sides when baking. It is better to bake any remaining batter separately after the first pan of cupcakes has finished baking.
- Bake, rotating pan halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and a toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in cupcake pan, and turn out of pan when cool enough to handle. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer combine egg whites, sugar, and salt; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Using a wire whisk, whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. Tip: the mixture should reach about 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer, or feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Remove from heat.
- Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture forms a thick fluffy meringue and is cool. Tip: Touch the meringue and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
- Stop the mixer, remove the whisk and attach the paddle. With the mixer on medium speed add the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Use a small offset spatula to frost the top of each cupcake, or use a pastry bag and ribbon decorating tip to pipe the frosting.
- Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with peppermint candies.
Kaldunski, Shelly, Cupcakes, Simon & Shuster, New York, 2008,
Taste of the South Magazine, Christmas Cooking Southern Style, 2007