This weekend we celebrated my husband's grandma's birthday. With the inspiration of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, our St. Patrick's themed dinner and her love of ladybugs this is what I came up with. It was a moist chocolate cupcake filled with mint butter cream, dipped in bitter-sweet chocolate ganache, topped with more mint buttercream and garnished with a M&M ladybug & a green chocolate shamrock.
It sounds more complicated than it really was. First I made the garnishes...
M&M Ladybugs - select out your red M&Ms. I put them on top of waxed paper for easy cleanup. I used an inexpensive sandwich bag fitted with a #1 Wilton top. In my chocolate melter, I melted down a handful of bitter-sweet chips. You can also microwave them for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat till they are melted. I piped a line down each M&M, then a dot for the head and dots on the back.
Green Chocolate Shamrocks - I found a discount on Wilton Green Candy Melts, but didn't have a shamrock mold... so I improvised! On a piece of wax paper freehand some shamrocks ... or find something to trace. Flip the waxed paper over and pipe your melted chocolate onto your mold. Let then cool and they will peel right off of the wax paper. Easy!
Chocolate Cupcakes - use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, or I recommend this one:
You Will Need:
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. AP flour
6 1/2 Tbsp. Dutch Processed Cocoa (I like Ghiradelli the best)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. boiling water
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with liners.
In your mixer, sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the egg and mix till incorporated. Then add in the milk, oil and vanilla. Beat for about 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. This is a thin batter, don't be alarmed. Fill your papers 3/4 full and bake for 20-23 minutes. Your toothpick should come out clean. Let these cool on a cooling rack completely before filling or decorating.
Mint Butter Cream Frosting -
You Will Need:
1 c. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tsp. mint extract
pinch of salt
green gel food coloring
Cream the butter with a mixer. Really fluff up your butter for 2 minutes, then start adding the powdered sugar a little at a time. When all the sugar has been added, add the rest of the ingredients. Make sure you scrape the bowl and get all the food coloring mixed evenly.
Use either an apple corer to make a hole, or a pairing knife to cut out a cone for easy filling. You can use a sandwich bag to pipe the butter cream into your cupcake, or I used a Dessert Decorator Plus to fill mine. Get the butter cream even with the top of the cupcake.
Chocolate Ganache - Heat up 3/4 cup heavy cream on the stove till it just begins to simmer. Poor it over 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix until smooth. Let this cool and set up a little. I usually pop it into the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Then I dip the cupcakes into the chocolate. Twist to the side and allow the excess to drip off. Don't worry if your chocolate isn't smooth. The icing will hide any imperfections. Then place then on a paper towel to catch the drips. Let these dry for 10 minutes or so.
After the ganache has set up, pipe a ring of frosting onto your cupcakes. I like to use a large star tip for this. Then I sprinkled the top with a bit of green sanding sugar, topped with a shamrock and ladybug.