At the moment, mint and chocolate seems to be the flavour combination of my latest obsession. I didn't realise how popular they were until I saw them featured in ice cream, biscuits, slices, whoopie pies, cakes and even cupcakes! I wasn't a fan of them either. That is, until I tried a mint slice which is a chocolate-covered biscuit filled with a layer of mint cream inside. They worked so well together, and the mint was a refreshing component that perfectly assisted the sweetness of the chocolate. I also tried eating fresh mint leaves with blocks of chocolate just for fun, but that didn't work well like eating one of my favourite chocolate bars, Mint Aero.
I decided to feature my new love for mint chocolate in the form of macarons when I saw them in the book, Macarons: Chic and Delicious French Treats. I have been wanting to make these ever since I bought the book, and I was further inspired by Raspberri Cupcakes once again, with these adorable Heart Polka Dot Macarons & Vanilla Bean Blueberry Cupakes. I actually attempted to pipe heart shapes with the macarons but failed when they looked like deformed hearts. I'm going to stick with the regular round shapes for now until I perfect my piping skills. Using David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake recipe, I made a small batch of chocolate cupakes which were moist and chocolatey, perfect for pairing with mint.
The real star of the cupcakes are of course, the macarons which are filled with a lovely minty milk chocolate ganache. I used a bunch of fresh mint leaves I bought from the shop, just because I didn't have any peppermint extract on hand. The key to getting as much flavour from the mint possible is by letting the leaves infuse in the syrup for at least an hour. I let mine sit for about three hours, which was enough to bring out the minty-ness, but no too overwhelming as not to mask the flavour of the chocolate. And when it came to the macarons, I was sure to let them set until they formed a skin. But even that, a batch of the shells came out cracked and ugly. I was lucky to have another batch perfectly baked (maybe a tad over-baked) with feet and no cracks!
The frosting I used is new to me, and it is a cooked flour frosting from Tasty Kitchen that I actually wanted to try before I discovered the Best-ever-frosting. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me as the mixture split and there was still lumps of flour present in the frosting. It also kind of melted a bit which did not hold its shape very well as shown on the cupcakes. However, it did taste delicious and wasn't too sweet or buttery at all, but I will go back to my favourite recipe for now as my go-to frosting.
Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake.
Makes 10 cupcakes (double the recipe if you want 20 cupcakes)
4 and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of cake flour (or plain flour)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
57 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of water
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. Mix the milk and water together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes until fluffy and creamy. Add the egg and mix until combined.
4. Stir half of the flour mixture into the butter and add the milk and water to the batter. Stir in the other half of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
5. Fill the cupcake liners until half full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in tray for 5 minutes, before placing the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Mint Chocolate Macarons adapted from Macarons: Chic and Delicious French Treats by Annie Rigg
Makes 20 macarons
200 grams (1 and 1/2 cups) icing/confectioners'/powdered sugar
100 grams (2/3 cup) ground almonds
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons of sugar
30 grams (about 1 bunch) of fresh mint leaves
Extra 3 tablespoons of sugar
200 grams of dark/milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup of water
Green food colouring paste
Make the mint-infused ganache first,
1. Lightly crush the mint leaves with your hands and add it to the extra sugar and water in a small saucepan.
2. Slowly bring it to the boil until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let it infuse for at least 1 hour (The longer it infuses, the more mint flavour will come out).
3. Bring the mint syrup back to the boil and and then strain the leaves into a heatproof bowl. Immediately add the chocolate to the syrup and mix well until smooth and melted. Let the mixture cool before putting it in the fridge for it to set and thicken up slightly.
To make the macarons,
1. Sift icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl and set aside.
2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk until it just holds a stiff peak.
3. Add the sugar to the meringue while beating at a medium-high speed a teaspoonful at a time. Mix well between each addition. Add the green food colouring to the mixture and stir well until the colour is evenly distributed.
4. Fold the icing sugar and almond mixture into the egg whites until incorporated and smooth.
5. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe evenly sized circles of about 2 inches wide in diameter on a baking/parchment paper lined baking tray.
6. Tap the bottom of the baking trays sharply and leave the shells to set for about 1 hour or until they have set and formed a shell. They should not be sticky or wet when touched with your finger.
7. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F) while the macarons are drying. Bake the shells for about 10 minutes, until they are crisp and dry. Cool completely before filling with the ganache.
8. Take two similar sized shells and sandwich them together with the prepared mint ganache filling. Repeat with the rest of the shells.
Vanilla cooked flour frosting adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Double the recipe if you like lots of frosting
2 and a half tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of sugar
113 grams of unsalted butter
Green food gel colouring
1. Pour milk in a small saucepan and whisk the flour into the milk until combined.
2. Heat the mixture over a medium heat until it is very thick and creamy. Cool the mixture completely by letting it cool in the fridge or putting it over an ice bath.
3. Add vanilla extract to the cooled mixture and stir to combine.
4. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
5. Add the cooled flour mixture to the butter and whip on a medium-high speed until it looks like whipped cream. Add colouring and mix well to distribute the colour evenly.
To assemble the cupcakes, pipe a swirl with the frosting and top with a mint chocolate macaron.