Sound yummy don’t they? This is my entry in The Sweetest Kitchen’s “Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge #8”. It’s the first time I’ve entered a baking contest so it’s all very exciting.
This month’s challenge was to create a chocolate cake with a twist. I dabbled with a few ideas and came back to mint. Boring right? Well…maybe not. I like mint, lots of people like mint so I tried to make it less boring by adding some ingredients and ideas that I hadn’t seen executed before.
The biggest challenge wasn’t trying to decide on a flavour or design, it was actually trying to stop the cakes melting into a puddle with Perth’s 35c+ weather. I got around this by freezing the cakes overnight before I decorated them. They weren’t frozen when I served them (though I do quite like frozen cake) and doing this kept them nice and moist as well as helping to set some of my mystery ingredients.
My 3 mystery ingredients were:
- Dried peppermint leaves from my garden. I dried them by washing the stalks, then placing inside a pillowcase and hanging it outside on the line in the hot weather for a day or two.
- Kool Mints – A bit like Mentos but round.
- Mint flavoured pashmak (Persian fairy floss) that I bought at the Central markets in Adelaide when I was on holiday last month.
I started out with this recipe from Martha Stewart. Martha’s recipe calls for peppermint extract or pure peppermint oil. Yawn. I couldn’t find any essence at the shops (go figure, I found a bottle in the back of my pantry when making the icing) so I decided to improvise. I have some peppermint tea which I created myself (as described above). I made the batter and then crumbled the leaves between the palms of my hands, trying hard to avoid getting any stalks in the mix.
I filled each muffin pan hole with about 2 tablespoons of batter, then I dipped a Kool Mint in flour and carefully placed it on top before covering with a bit more batter. The idea was to have it float and not sink to the bottom. this didn’t quite work and I strongly suggest you DO use the wrappers/patty cases when baking. I didn’t and the bottoms stuck to the pan a bit.
Once the cupcakes were cooked, I placed them all in a long, shallow Pyrex dish, covered it with cling film and put it in the freezer overnight.
Step two was to create a sugary crust using the rest of the Kool Mints. I took a handful and placed them, a couple of teaspoons of water and a teaspoonful of Buttersoft (margerine/butter blend) in a small ceramic bowl with a side plate on top. I microwaved for approx 1 minute. I used just a normal shallow teaspoon, not any official measuring stuff for this bit. It was all an experiment really. You need to be careful with this step as the sugar gets really, really hot.
I stirred up the buttermint mixture, trying hard to dissolve the shells with water. It didn’t really work but I liked the crackly bursts of flavour so I left them in. Then I drizzled the mixture over the tops of the cakes before they went back in the freezer.
The plan had been to serve these with white chocolate icing with delicate webs of spun sugar around them. That didn’t exactly go to plan – my first foray into making swiss meringue buttercream was a bit of a flop and wasted a milkybar (sob). Instead I made it again, minus butter and with the addition of a couple of drops of green food colouring and a couple of drops of peppermint essence. Not overly minty but nice and delicate.
Out came the pashmak. Not like delicate spun sugar but in little clumps. oh well. I think it looks nice anyway. If you can’t find mint then vanilla or chocolate would be nice. Or even real spun sugar if you’re clever like that. I topped with a sprig of fresh mint.
So that’s my entry! The entries close on the 20th February and then voting starts. I hope you’ll vote for me!
Official Contest Stuff
The contest is run by The Sweetest Kitchen. Details of the competition and official rules are here http://www.sweetestkitchen.com/mysterybox/
The winner of February’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
- Angela’s Images; a selection of handmade crafts
- Bake It Pretty; a $5 electronic gift card
- Beanilla; 3 Indian, 3 Tahitian & 3 Tonga vanilla beans
- Hello Hanna; a pack of Sweet Stands cupcake stands
- Miss Kitty Creations; a handmade cupcake charm of your choice
- Simply Caked; 600 brown greaseproof cupcake liners
- Sweet Cuppin Cakes; a prize pack worth $25
- Tundra Books; a selection 3 very sweet children’s books
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!