Sunday, December 18, 2016

Let it Snow..

This summer, on a particularly hot day, I was wondering Target & found half pint canning jars & thought they'd make perfect snow globes!  So I made some for my kids' teachers as Christmas gifts:

I hand painted a mountain scene along the three smooth sides & covered the "Ball" logo with this adorable reindeer from Simon Says Stamp "Merry & Bright" set.  Filled it with a Hot Chocolate Cupcake (seriously amazing!) & top it all off with some pretty silver ribbon :-).

Because these were rather time intensive I only did 4 for their main teachers & did gift bags for the other 12 teachers/ support staff.  On these tags I used a snowman from Lawn Fawn's "Snow Much Fun" set

And like I said the above cupcakes are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G ...quite possibly one of the best (baked) things I've ever made.  I was shocked that I couldn't find an existing recipe for hot chocolate cupcakes - at least not like I was thinking of, there are plenty of ones for all shades of chocolate & several using hot chocolate mix but none that would actually taste like a cup of hot chocolate. So starting with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (by Brown Eyed Baker) I started experimenting to find the correct balance of chocolate, creaminess & marshmallow & I think I found it ;-).  I'll have to go back & do proper weight measurements but in the meantime:

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Marshamllow Frosting
For the cake:
1/2 C Coffee [I used Starbucks Christmas Blend]
3 oz Semi-Sweet Choc, chopped fine [I used Scharffen-Berger]
1/2 C Canola Oil
2 Eggs
1 C Buttermilk 
1 t Vanilla
1 3/4 C AP Flour
3/4 C Cocoa [I use Ghiradelli]
1 3/4 Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 t Baking Soda
1 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt

For the ganache:
16 oz Andes Mints chopped
1 C Heavy Cream

For Frosting:
1/2 C unsalted butter (softened)
1 t Vanilla
1 C Marshmallow Fluff
3 T Heavy Cream
2 C powdered Sugar (sifted)
1/4 t Salt

1. Place chopped choc in a small bowl, pour coffee over & leave it for the moment
2. In bowl of stand mixer (w/ paddle attachment) mix the oil, eggs, buttermilk & vanilla on low-medium speed
3. Sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder & salt onto a piece of parchment paper (or flexible cutting board). Slowly pour into oil mixture @ a low speed.
4. Give the choc-coffee mixture a quick whisk & add to batter.  Turn up to medium speed until fully incorporated.
5. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full & bake in 350F for 18-20 mins until a toothpick comes out clean
6. Heat 1 C heavy cream in small pan on the stove until it just starts to scald; pour over chopped Andes mints & let set for ~1 min before whisking to smooth consistency & store in refrigerator to cool.
7. Whip butter in stand mixer (w/ whisk attachment) until light & creamy then add in marshmallow fluff & vanilla.
8. Once smooth add in 2 T heavy cream followed by the powdered sugar.  If it's too thick then add in last T heavy cream.
9. Once cupcakes are cool, scoop out the middle, pip in ganache, top w/ frosting & a sprinking of candy canes. YUM!