Candy canes are ubiquitous this time of year though few of us know when, where or how candy canes came into existence. According to German folklore, a 17th century choirmaster in Cologne, Germany, needed to find a way to keep the children quiet during the exceptionally long Christmas Eve Mass so he ordered peppermint-flavored candy sticks from a local confectioner with a few stipulations of his own.
First, that the sticks be shaped like canes the shepherds coming to visit baby Jesus might have had. Second, the sticks were to be white to represent the sinless, pure life Jesus led, and red to represent the blood he lost when he died for the sins of mankind. Modern candy can historians dispute this but the good news is we can enjoy candy canes on their own special day regardless of the theories.
We think this Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcake is great way to celebrate Candy Cane Day.
· 2 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips
· 1 cup hot-brewed coffee
· 2 cups sugar
· 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
· 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup buttermilk
· 1/2 cup vegetable oil
· 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Chocolate Ganache:
· 1/2 cup heavy cream
· 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
· 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
For Peppermint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting:
· 1/2 cup butter, softened
· 7 ounces marshmallow creme
· 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
· 4 cups powdered sugar
· 2 tablespoons milk
To sprinkle on cupcakes once frosted:
· 1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Line a cupcake or muffin pan with 24 regular-size cupcake liners.
In a small sauce pan, combine chocolate chips and hot coffee, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly. Slowly add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla to the egg mixture, then the chocolate mixture and combine completely. Next, add the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until well combined.
Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full with the cupcake batter, then place in oven and bake 18-21 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cupcakes to completely cool.
While cupcakes are baking, prepare Chocolate Ganache and Peppermint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting.
To assemble: Remove the center of each cupcake using an apple corer and fill cupcake with a spoonful of the Chocolate Ganache. Frost cupcakes with peppermint buttercream marshmallow frosting (from a pastry bag fitted with a star tip), and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.
Directions for Chocolate Ganache:
In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream and butter to a simmer, then turn off heat and add in the chocolate. Stir mixture until smooth and set aside to cool.
Directions for Peppermint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting:
Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip butter and marshmallow cream together. Add peppermint extract, then slowly add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and continue to mix on a slow speed. Add milk and more powdered sugar (up to 2 cups) until desired consistency is reached.