Typically, I leave all the baking to one of my roommates. Because she’s good at it and she’s good at making everything taste good despite it having to be gluten-free. But when I’m at home, I suppose I suffer from baked goods withdrawal. And I think I get a little bored.
My go-to baked good is a cupcake. I don’t really know why. Probably because you can do so many cool things with cupcakes that would be weird for an entire cake. And cookies don’t really have a lot going on for them in terms of creative baking. But a cupcake is a blank slate. I also watch a lot of Cupcake Wars so that might be part of it.
So as I stood bored in my kitchen (with Cupcake Wars playing in the background) I got a hankering to bake up some cupcakes and I noticed I had some leftover coffee. Since I have a crippling coffee addiction, any chance I can get to drink or eat something with coffee is a win-win for me.
The coffee I had at my disposal was a recent Christmas present. Some Frango Mint Coffee™. So if you don’t know, Frango Mints™ are a mint chocolate candy that originated from Frederick & Nelson department stores in 1912 and were popularized by Marshall Field and Company in 1929. These babies are now sold by Macy’s, the company that bought out Marshall Field. I don’t know. It’s a Midwest thing. And I actively try not to understand the Midwest. Basically, the coffee I have is a mint chocolate coffee, so anything similar or just regular coffee will do.
For this recipe, we have three sources of chocolate (hence the triple chocolate in the name). First, I melted down some butter and added some of the coffee, cacao powder, and vanilla.
The second source of chocolate comes from a combination of unsweetened baking chocolate, a couple frango mints, and some coffee. Add these together and melt over a double boiler. Since we have no such thing, I boil water in a saucepan and then put a glass bowl on top of it. Melting chocolate over direct heat is not something I like to do since I worry about burning the chocolate, but if that’s not a concern than this can be done in a simple saucepan. Once the chocolate is melted, I add a bit of white sugar.
I set both of these chocolate mixtures aside so they can cool down a bit. We don’t want them to be boiling lava hot when we add them to our dry ingredients and (most importantly) the egg.
Now for the dry ingredients. It’s a simple cupcake batter, kind of. I use flour, both white and brown sugar (I like the subtle flavor brown sugar can add), baking powder, baking soda, and a little bit of salt. Mix all of these together and we’re ready to combine them with the wet ingredients.
But before we do that, we need to add the egg to the chocolate mixture. I just added to one of the mixtures but you can also combine both chocolate mixtures before adding the egg. So the egg is just a mixture of an egg at room temperature and some half & half (mostly because I was out of milk).
Always do this in a separate bowl because the egg must be tempered before we add this in with the rest of the liquids. Tempering requires that we take a small amount of the chocolate mixture (about a tablespoon or so) and add it to the egg while constantly whisking the egg. Do this a couple more times and this will keep the egg from scrambling when it’s added to the rest of the liquid ingredients. Slowly pour the egg into the rest of the chocolate mixture, constantly whisking until combined.
Next, I added the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients a little at a time until completely combined. Over mixing is something you always need to be aware of. Just mix until everything’s combined, not until all the lumps are out. Otherwise, the texture of the cake may turn out a little funky.
Then the fill up a cupcake tin ¾ of the way with the batter and bake at 350˚F for 16-18 minutes or until you can poke them with a toothpick and no batter comes up with the toothpick.
Now for the frosting and the topping of this cupcake, both completely optional. I went with a whipped cream frosting because I had to get rid of some heavy whipping cream. I also think whipped cream frostings feel quite a bit lighter and there’s less sugar involved (I don’t like overly sweet desserts).
For this, I made an almond flavored frosting, but a normal vanilla would work too. I mixed a little bit of almond extract, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar into the heavy whipping cream. Then I beat it on a high speed for about a minute to a minute and a half, until soft peaks form (basically the cream can stand up on its own). It’s important that you throw your mixing bowl and beater in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before you attempt to do this. And I speak from experience when I say don’t mix this by hand.
Why you ask? Well, because it’s quite the arm workout. If you have no other choice, then I will start by saying, I’m sorry. To whisk by hand, you’ll still need to chill your mixing bowl and I suggest using a metal or glass one since those hold in the cold better than plastic. Then you’ll need a larger bowl filled with ice (or if you’re lucky and there’s 3 feet of it sitting right outside your window, snow). Then put your whipping cream in the chilled bowl, put that in the bowl full of ice/snow and start whisking. You’ll need to whisk pretty vigorously for… hmmm…. 15-20 minutes. And make sure to keep the bowl cold otherwise you’ll be whisking forever (this is why I don’t like to do it by hand).
Once you’re frosting’s done, I made a little bit of candied hazelnuts to go on top. I did this because hazelnuts and almonds pair well together and hazelnuts are traditionally a part of the topping on Frango Mint™ pies (just an ice cream pie that used to be sold at Marshall Field….once again, Midwest).
So throw your hazelnuts, butter, and sugar into a bowl and let the butter melt. Then keep an eye on this and mix it until all of the sugar dissolves. It only takes about 8 minutes or so. Once the sugar’s all melted, pour the nuts onto a baking sheet or (in my case) tin foil and throw it in the fridge to cool and harden.
Now it’s assembly time. I piped my frosting onto my cupcakes but that’s because I like the way it looks and because I care how it looks. You can frost them however you want. Then I placed a little pile of hazelnuts onto the top of the frosting.
And viola! A nice display of triple chocolate mint coffee cupcakes with an almond whipped cream frosting and candied hazelnuts. It’s a mouthful but aren’t most of the cupcake dishes on Cupcake Wars? I garnished with a little bit of mint, but once again, I was going for aesthetic. And whole mint isn’t really all that edible, at least in my opinion.
Frango Mint™ Coffee Cupcakes
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 16-18 minutes
Makes 24 cupcakes
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup cacao powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup Frango Mint Coffee™
- ½ oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
- 2 Frango Mints™
- 2 cups shifted flour
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking power
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup half and half
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Melt butter; add 1 ¼ cup of coffee, cacao powder, and vanilla. Set aside to cool. In a separate saucepan, bring a small amount of water to a boil. Place a glass bowl containing the remaining coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and frango mints on top of the saucepan of boiling water. Melt. Take off heat and add ¼ cup of white sugar. Combine with the other chocolate mixture and set aside to cool.
Combine flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together half and half and egg. Slowly add to chocolate mixture making sure to whisk to keep egg from cooking. Add liquid to flour mixture, stir to combine.
Fill cupcake tin ¾ of the way with batter and bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool.
Almond Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp almond extract
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup + 1 tbs powdered sugar
Let bowl and beater chill in freezer for 30+ minutes. Combine heavy whipping cream, almond extract, vanilla extract, and 1 tbs of powdered sugar. Whisk in beater until soft peaks are formed (~1 minute). Fold in remaining sugar.
Candied Hazelnut Topping
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
- 1 tbs unsalted butter
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¾ cup hazelnuts
- 1 pinch nutmeg
Heat all ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Place onto cookie sheet or aluminum foil, refrigerate.