Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcakes

Merry Christmas in July! It’s probably hard to think about Christmas during this time of the year, especially with everything going on in the world. I am longing for those cooler days though. I totally get that summer is supposed to be warm and some days hot, but, I just feel that this summer has had more days of unbearable heat and humidity than in recent years. Even the days that haven’t been that hot have been too humid for my liking. If it’s 83 degrees, I want it to feel like 83 and not 93 because of other factors. In my post for last year’s Christmas in July recipe, Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies, I discussed the origins of the “holiday.” This year I am sharing a tidbit of information I recently learned, people actually have Christmas in July parties! Sorry, if this comes across as a shocker to me. I have heard of Christmas in July for years, but, never knew that people actually had parties to celebrate. Sounds like a fun idea, but, I definitely wouldn’t put up my Christmas Tree this early in the year regardless of how much I love Christmas. Instead, to celebrate Christmas in July I am sharing with you a Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcake recipe.

To amp the peppermint flavor in the cupcakes not only did I add peppermint extract to the batter, but, I infused peppermint into the milk by crushing peppermint candies and adding them to the milk while heating it so they could dissolve into it. And while the frosting also called for milk, I opted to just use peppermint extract to give it a peppermint flavor. The final product, a cupcake that’s making me long for all the sweet treats that are to come with the holidays!

Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 Cupcakes
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Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk

4 starlight peppermint candies, crushed

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 ounces melted semi-sweet chocolate (I used 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Sprinkles or additional crushed peppermint candies to decorate.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

For the Cupcakes: Start by making the peppermint milk. In a small saucepan over medium hear (or using a glass measuring cup in a microwave) heat the milk and crushed candies together until the milk is hot but not boiling. Stir to melt the candies in the heated milk. Pour the heated milk over the cocoa powder in a large bowl and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly. 

In a medium whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Once the cocoa mixture has cooled, whisk in the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts until the mixture is smooth. Then whisk in the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes are cool make the frosting. In the bowl of a food processor combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, melted chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and peppermint extracts and pulse the ingredients together until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes using your desired method and then top with sprinkles and/or crushed candies.

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Hot Cocoa Bombs

Hot Cocoa Bombs became all the rage this winter. They were the perfect homemade gift to give anyone on your Christmas list. And while the holidays may be long over that doesn’t mean that drinking a nice mug of hot chocolate is. And truthfully since the rage has died down a bit it might be easier to get the molds needed to make these. I tried ordering them in early December and it was as if the internet was laughing at me because they weren’t in stock anywhere I checked. I was finally able to order them in early January. These are the ones I ended up getting.

 

Using one 12oz bag of Sweet Tooth Fairy Meltables  I was able to make 6 cocoa bombs.  I melted the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each until the chocolate was melted and smooth.

Once the chocolate was melted, I scooped some of it into each crevice of the molds and using the back of a small spoon I spread the chocolate around as evenly as possible. This probably would have been easier with a brush, but I made it work. Once the crevices were coated well I placed the molds in the freezer for about 5 minutes so the chocolate could set. I then added more melted chocolate and spread it around again to ensure that the shells would be strong. After freezing them for an additional 5 minutes it was time to unmold and start filling them.

To make filling them easy I placed half of the shells into cupcake liners. This helped to keep the shells from rocking and also was an easier way to handle the cocoa bombs once assembled. Now, you could make your own hot chocolate mix, but I decided to go the easy route and used Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate mix. I filled each half shell with a tablespoon of the mix and a tablespoon of mini marshmallows. For two of them I also added in crushed peppermint candy and for two other ones I added in a soft caramel I cut in half along with salt. I used Werther’s Original Soft Carmel. I placed it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before cutting in half. As for the salt, I used a salt grinder and added in a few grinds of it. I would say it was about 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

When it came time to top the bottom shell with the top shell, I tried two different ways to adhere them. The first way, I heated a frying pan over low heat and placed the empty shell on the pan for a second or two to melt the chocolate and then placed it on the filled bottom shell. This method did not work for me at all. The two shells did not stick together. Instead, using some of the leftover melted chocolate I had I dipped the empty shell in it and then placed it on the filled bottom shell and it stuck together perfectly.

Once the cocoa bombs were assembled it was time to decorate the outside. I transferred the leftover melted chocolate to a piping bag and snipped off a small piece of the end. I drizzled the chocolate over the assembled cocoa bombs and for the hot chocolate ones I placed marshmallows on top, for the peppermint hot chocolate ones I arranged marshmallows and crushed peppermint candies and finally for the salted caramel hot chocolate ones I placed a few pieces of caramel and marshmallows along with salt. I topped each of them with a little more chocolate drizzle after placing the toppings to hold it all in place.

And then it was time to try one. I placed one in a mug…

Heated milk until it was steaming and then poured it over the cocoa bomb.

In no time the chocolate shell melted, and the mini marshmallows rose to the top. I gave it a few good stirs to make sure the chocolate and caramel candy had melted. And it was delish! While you may be tempted to add more hot chocolate mix to each of the cocoa bombs a tablespoon is more than enough. Remember, that chocolate shell will melt and will add to the chocolatey flavor of your drink.

 

Hot Cocoa Bombs

Ingredients:

12oz. Chocolate Melts

6 Tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix

3/4 cup mini marshmallows

 

For Peppermint Hot Chocolate:

Crushed peppermint starlight mints

 

For Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Soft Caramels

Sea Salt

 

Directions:

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Using a brush or small spoon spread a few tablespoons of the melted chocolate in the crevices of the silicone mold. Freeze the molds for 5 minutes so the chocolate can set. Once set, add more melted chocolate and spread evenly again and freeze again for an additional 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate shells are set unmold them and place half of them in cupcake liners.

Fill the shells in the liners with a tablespoon each of the hot chocolate mix and mini marshmallows.

If making flavored ones: For the peppermint hot chocolate, add in a crushed peppermint starlight mint along with the hot chocolate mix and marshmallows. For the salted caramel, add in a soft caramel cut in half and a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt along with the hot chocolate mix and marshmallows.

Dip the other half of the shells in the leftover melted chocolate and place on top of the filled shells.

Transfer the leftover melted chocolate to a piping bag and cut a small piece of the end off and drizzle the top of the cocoa bombs with the chocolate and place a few marshmallows on top. For the peppermint hot chocolate also add some crushed peppermint candy and for the salted caramel, a caramel candy cut in half and salt. And top it all with more drizzled chocolate.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.

To make, place the cocoa bomb in a mug and top with hot milk. Stir a few times and enjoy!

Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies

Today we are celebrating Christmas in July with Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies. I always pick up a few bags of Ghirardelli’s Peppermint Chunks during the holiday season and I always end up with one stray bag that I don’t use. I am sad to say that sometimes it ends up getting tossed in the trash because I don’t use it before the expiration date, but, this year I made it a point to use it and to try out the recipe on the back of the package… their Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies.

Before we get to the cookies though a little history on where Christmas in July came from.  You might quickly just think that it’s the halfway point to Christmas, but, it’s not, that would be back in June.

According to legend, Christmas in July dates back to 1933 at Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina. They decided to dedicate two days (July 24th & 25th) to the holiday with fake snow, a tree, gift exchange and of course Santa. In the 1940’s there was the movie “Christmas In July”. The plot, a man’s coworkers prank him into thinking he won a $25,000 cash prize. He ends up going on a shopping spree and finally proposes to his girlfriend. By the 1950’s retailers got in on the action. I wonder if this was the catalyst to many people starting (and some completing) their Christmas shopping during the summer months. Nowadays Amazon Prime has their Prime Day in July, unfortunately due to Covid-19 this year it will be held in the Fall. Speaking of shopping this year, I was watching the news last week and there was a segment on the best things to buy during the month of July and at the end of it the two reporters began to discuss when a good time to start Christmas shopping is and they agreed that now might be the best time since there’s no way of knowing what the situation will be come the Fall/Winter. There is that possibility that stores will be closed again, and shipping times may be delayed again.

Even television has gotten in on the action. Hallmark channel takes full advantage and airs their original Christmas movies across their networks, and it coincides with the release of their Keepsake Ornaments in their stores. I won’t lie, I have been enjoying my fair share of Christmas movies these past few weeks.

I always have the great idea to make my Christmas cards during the month of July as a way of celebrating and to have one thing off my list come the holidays. But it never happens. I came close this year. I had a design all picked out and I started working on them, but quickly decided I didn’t like them. So, it’s back to the drawing board. Maybe I can get another design narrowed down by the end of the month. I got an email the other day with the top 10 reasons as to why you should start preparing for Christmas now and it makes total sense. Especially if you make handmade items and you do a lot of baking.

And now, back to the cookies. One thing I like about this recipe is that it’s only for 2 dozen cookies. Sometimes you need 3 or 4 dozen cookies and other times, you just don’t. Granted, these wouldn’t be great for a cookie swap, but they are the perfect amount for a get together with friends or to snack on while you are decorating your home for the holidays. And they are the perfect combination of peppermint and chocolate, without the peppermint being to overpowering even with those huge chunks!

Merry Christmas in July!

 

Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies

  • Servings: 24 Cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 10oz. bag Ghirardelli Peppermint Chunks

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, baking soda & salt in a medium bowl.

In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar using a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add in the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well combined. Fold in the flour mixture and stir in the peppermint chunks.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared cookies sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake in the preheated oven for 9 minutes, do not overbake. The cookies should be soft and fudgy. Let them cook on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Cookie Palooza – No Bake Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of cookies. I’m ending Cookie Palooza 2017 with an easy no bake cookie that only requires three ingredients, four if you count the sprinkles… Peppermint Chocolate Wafers.

First ingredient… Melted semi-sweet chocolate. I melted the chocolate using a double-boiler. You could melt the chocolate in the microwave (which was always my preferred method,) but I find melting the chocolate in a double boiler minimizes the chance of scorching the chocolate and you can keep it warm while you’re working so it will stay smooth and thin. Whereas when you melt it in the microwave after a few minutes the chocolate begins to thicken. Creating a double boiler is quite simple… fill a medium saucepan about a little less than halfway with water – you don’t want to fill it too much because then when you place the bowl in the water it will spill over. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat so the water is simmering. Place a heatproof bowl in the water, add chopped chocolate and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted. Once the chocolate has melted, reduce the flame to low to keep the chocolate warm and add in the peppermint extract (the second ingredient), stir to mix in.

Dip the Nilla Wafers (third ingredient) in the chocolate and flip them over to get them fully covered. The process will go much easier if you have candy dipping tools, but if not a fork will work well. Once cookies are covered lift the cookies out of the chocolate and let the excess drip and then place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with festive sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy/candy canes (fourth ingredient.)

 

Once you are done dipping the cookies place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes so the chocolate can harden.

And that’s it! A simple cookie that’s perfect for the season and best of all, doesn’t require you to turn on your oven.

Happy Holidays!!!

Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Cookies

Ingredients:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped*

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

30 – 36 Nilla Wafer cookies

Sprinkles, optional

Directions:

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler on medium to medium low heat. Once the chocolate has melted add the peppermint extract and stir well to combine. Keep the heat on low for the double boiler so that the chocolate will remain smooth and thin.

Dip the wafers in the chocolate one at a time, making sure to coat the entire cookie. Remove from the chocolate and let the excess drip off before placing on a wax paper lined baking sheet to set.

Sprinkle with sprinkles or crushed peppermint candy. Or let the chocolate set for a few minutes and then drizzle with the left-over melted chocolate. Place in the refrigerator so the chocolate can harden. Store in an airtight container.

*You could also use chocolate chips

**The ratio of peppermint extract to chocolate I used was 1/4 teaspoon per 4 oz.

Cookie Palooza: Chocolate-Mint Thumbprints

I hope you have enjoyed my Cookie Palooza and that one of these cookie recipes will be one that you try or has inspired you to create something totally your own. On this final day of Cookie Palooza I bring you a cookie with a flavor of the season, peppermint. A Chocolate-Mint Thumbprint to be precise. And don’t worry, the peppermint flavor isn’t overpowering as some peppermint-flavored things are.

After sifting flour and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl, I creamed butter and confectioners’ sugar together in a large bowl and then added in vanilla extract and salt. Once the butter mixture was well blended I added in the flour mixture and continued mixing using my handheld mixer on low speed until the dough formed. I chilled the dough for about 40 minutes until it was firm enough to roll into balls, but, not so cold that I would have to “defrost” it once out of the fridge.

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I rolled teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls and placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Next, I pressed straight down the middle of each ball with a floured finger – you could also use the end of a wooden spoon – almost to the cookie sheet to make a deep well. After baking the cookies in a 350 F preheated oven for about 8 minutes, I redefined the indentations with the end of a wooden spoon. I let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet so they could set and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Once the cookies were completely cooled I made the filling. I created my own double-boiler by bringing a pot of water to a simmer and then placed semisweet chocolate chips and unsalted butter in a heat proof bowl and set it over the simmering water. I began stirring the mixture with a rubber spatula and after a few minutes, before the mixture was completed melted, I removed it from the simmering water and continued stirring the mixture until it melted and then stirred in peppermint mixture. I let the mixture cool for about a half hour – until it was warm and slightly thickened…

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And then transferred it to a decorator bottle. You could also transfer the chocolate to a decorator bag with a small tip attached or a resealable bag with a small portion of the corned snipped off. I then piped the chocolate into the wells of the cookies.

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I’ll be the first to admit that my thumbprints came out a bit wonky looking, but, that didn’t detract from how yummy they were with just the right balance of chocolate and peppermint.

 

Chocolate-Mint Thumbprints

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the Mint-Filling:

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Directions:

For the Cookies:

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a medium bowl. Using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and salt, continue beating until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, about 40 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place them on the parchment paper about 2-inches apart. With a lightly floured thumb or fingertip (or the end of thick-handled wooden spoon), press straight down into the middle of each ball, almost to the cookie sheet, to make a deep well.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Gently redefine the wells using the end of a wooden spoon. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Filling:

Put the chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir with a heatproof spatula until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract. Let cool for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture is slightly warmer than room temperature and it has begun to thicken. Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip or into a resealable bag with a corner snipped off and pipe the filling into the center of each cookie. Let the filling set completely before storing.

Recipe from Fine Cooking