Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cracking open the oven!
Dubba's Grasshopper Cupcakes

I don't know about you, but Saturdays are very tough for me. As a kid, Saturdays were fun days. You wake up late, you watch cartoons, you play all day, you have leftover pizza for lunch, everything was great. No worries, no troubles, just fun fun fun. Now as a parent, Saturdays are a battle between wanting to relax and knowing that there is a week's worth of chores to catch up on. So to all my fellow parents, people working two jobs (or students who are also working), or just anyone is tired, let me say that it's time to do some "relaxing" cooking. As an added incentive to get myself in the kitchen, a buddy of mine was taunting us all with the 9 different kinds of cookies he baked the other day. Let's see if we can't do a little taunting of our own.

Ok, let's do background first. I forget what I was looking for, but I stumbled upon the blog of someone who had recently visited Crumbs Bake Shop. If you haven't seen their stuff, check out their cupcake menu. I think what most fascinates me is the clever idea of rolling the edge of the cupcake in some kind of topping. I guess I haven't been keeping up with cooking trends but this seems like pure genius. Now the blog I read was talking about grasshopper cupcakes, and for whatever reason, I felt the urge to try and make them... about two months ago. Yeah, I'm a little behind. Anyway, we have to bring a dessert to a party tonight, so it's time to finally crack open the over. Man, it's been way too long!!

The basic idea of the cupcake is chocolate and mint. Ok, but how do we make it look super fancy schmancy? Crumbs Bake Shop does have filling in many of their cupcakes, but I didn't realize that 'til just now, so we're going to skip that part. Actually, let me just show you what I've got for ingredients.

Now as you can see, I am taking my cupcake challenge very seriously. Let's do a quick run down of some sticking points. 1) I was confused about whether to get peppermint extract or mint extract (which is spearmint chased with peppermint). 2) I was originally going to use the mini toppers as my outer ring, but then I got the great idea to use some kind of chocolatey graham-like substance.  3) I almost got chocolate graham cracker instead of Oreo, but the Oreo was lower in saturated fat. 4) "Limited Edition" dark chocolate and mint nestle morsels. I've never had these before.

We start with the basics by mixing up the cupcake batter. I then decided to that I'm only going to mix in the mint chips for now. I pour the mix into 2x12 cupcake trays and then have my daughter stick a group of dark chocolate chips in the center of each cupcake. I have no idea if this will work, but there is only one way to find out. We've got an electric over, so in they go for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here are the cupcakes, fresh out of the oven. Now let me take a quick sec to mention the brainstorm my wife had. Notice how the middle row on the right seems shorter than all the others? Well I was talking to my wife and went "I wonder if you could stick like a graham cracker base at the bottom of a cupcake?" and she thought that might be a bit messy BUT she then had a a great idea ten minutes later. She pulled some girl scout thin mints out of the freezer yesterday so why not put those at the bottoms of the cupcakes? Oh, I like this idea, but I'm a little afraid. I put one at the bottom of the cupcake wrapper and realize it's smaller than the cup. Good news because that means the cupcake can bake around it on the edges and I don't have to worry about it falling apart! It's a crazy idea, so I only made four like that, but physically it worked really well and I may mess with this idea again in the future.

Ok, time's running out and I need to get these cupcakes frosted for the party. I put half of my store bought frosting into a bowl, added four or five drops of food coloring, and then almost had a massive disaster with the mint extract. Let's just say the frosting to mint ratio could have gotten pretty ugly. It didn't take much mint for the whole house to start smelling like a stick of gum. My daughter was unamused, but thankfully a few drops may have smelled like alot, but the flavor was still pretty mild.

Now this probably looks like my usual ice cream bowl, but it's actually a big serving bowl so that I'd have plenty of room to dunk the cupcake in. Like I said, I was originally going to use mini morsels on the edge, but instead I went with these crushed Oreo crumbs. I took the Oreo crust, folded the aluminum pie plate so it broke into pieces, dumped it into this bowl, and then let my daughter have fun breaking it back down into it's crumby components. You know what the best part is? The frosted cupcakes roll effortlessly through the crumbs. I cant believe just how easy this is, or how cool the cupcakes look afterward!

Not to toot my own horn, but I'm really proud of how awesome looking these came out (at least for my first time anyway!). This could very well be the first time I've made cupcakes in 2010, and I pulled out several tricks to try to take my game up a notch. The white is plan vanilla frosting. The green is the mint frosting (with a little piped squish on the top to be fancy), and then the two in the middle are some of the ones with girl scout cookies on the bottom. Now if I only had some high falutin' party to go too... instead I'm heading to a party full of elementary school children. Hmmmm, I may have tried a little too hard.

And now it's time for a warning, also know as a bit of honesty. You know that mint chip idea of mine? yeah, well, it didn't go as planned. Instead of the base cupcake having a nice mint secondary flavor, or even having spots of mint, well, it has this weird earthy flavor and not much mint. I guess this is the part where I learn that chips and morsels sink and don't float. What has happened is that there is this funk of creme de menthe without the mint flavor (almost coffee like). Next time I will just add a few drops of mint to the base and then chop up the mint chips and sprinkle them on top (maybe). The good news is that the frosting helps balance out that earthy funk. I decided to leave some vanilla incase people weren't in the mood for mint.

As far as the thin mint cupcakes go? well, pure genius really! hehehehe, but seriously, I could definitely see tweaking this recipe and leaving in those thin mints. I'm always a big fan of contrasting textures, so the soft cupcake with the crunch of the cookie was pretty neat in my book.

Even though this took about 3 hours, it was still fun. There's just a nice feeling of satisfaction when you lay out some impressive looking cupcakes, even if no one else appreciates them... ok, technically it would have been really nice for someone to say "wow, nice cupcakes!" but hey, it is what it is.

Thanks for listening. I'll be back tomorrow, we have a whole lot of ice cream that we need to talk about!

Update: In case I didn't make it abundantly clear, my wife's idea to throw the cookie on the bottom worked out really well. I just finished off the last thin mint cupcake and I really enjoyed it.


zombieman said...

thin mints on the bottom of the cupcake? i see a career as a flavor creator at ben & jerry's for your wife.

and you still have girl scout cookies in your freezer? curse you and your willpower to make your stash last until this next selling season.

Dubba Scoops said...

hehehehehe, that's why they call them the better half :)

yup, she saved a half dozen boxes in the freezer, they really do freeze well!