Minty fresh

Welcome back friend.

Week five of the British favourites cupcakes, and before we begin, I have a minor claim to fame on this one. My grandad used to engrave the embossing plates for the clock that characterises this evening treat. You know the old one with all the swirls n’ stuff.

Any guesses? The After Eight dinner mint you say? Dang straight.

Now, I know mint as a flavour polarises people, but I’m generally a fan. I can do away with a whole box of these if I’m in the right mood.

As far as the cake version goes, you don’t have to go too crazy, a little hint of mint really sets off the dark chocolate in this recipe nicely. The cake is made without eggs and butter so it’s light and fluffy allowing for a nice rich ganache icing. This is probably one of the easiest recipes in this little series, so if baking makes you nervous, start here.

As I’ve started sounding like the baking equivalent of a used car salesman we better make a start.

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You will need

For the cakes:

250g/8.5 oz plain flour

250g/8.5 oz caster sugar

30g/1 oz cocoa powder

300ml/10 fl oz water

6 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

150g/5.5 oz icing sugar

1 1/2 tbsp water

1 tsp peppermint extract

For the ganache icing:

175ml/6 fl oz double cream

250g/8.5 oz dark chocolate

The little extras (you know, it’s polite to stay on brand):

Edible gold powder

Black muffin/cupcake cases

(makes 12)

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Step one

To make the cakes, mix together the caster sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and plain flour.

Make a well in the middle.

Step two

In a jug combine the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Pour the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry ones. Using a hand whisk stir in small circles at the middle to gradually incorporate the dry ingredients without getting lumps.

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Step three

Pour the mixture into 12 cupcake cases. The mix will be fairly worryingly close to the tops of the cases but you shouldn’t have any problems, they aren’t the biggest risers.

To do this, I usually put the batter back into the jug I used for the wet ingredients in step two because it’s pretty runny.

Step four

Bake on 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes.

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Step five

Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. People who have been reading my blog for a while will be sick of hearing this, but a bread knife does a great job on chocolate. You can chop it real thin without bits flying off everywhere.

Gently heat the cream in a saucepan until it just begins to bubble. Stir constantly. It doesn’t take long for it to heat to this point so not a time to go and hang your washing out.

Once the cream has heated pour over the chocolate and stir with a whisk until fully combined.

Step six

Combine the filling ingredients. I felt it fairly unnecessary to photograph this bit. I reckon you’ll manage just fine on your own.

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Step seven

Fill and ice the cupcakes. Remove a bit of cake from the middle by running a small knife around in a circle. Cut the pointed bit off, fill the hole and place just the lid on top.

Pipe on the ganache using your favourite nozzle. You’ll know it’s cool enough when a spoonful of mixture holds its shape when dropped back onto the rest.

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Step eight

If you have it, paint on the gold powder. I’m a sucker for the details. You can get this kind of thing fairly cheaply at most UK supermarkets nowadays.

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Eat them at any time in the day you like. I recommend breakfast personally, there’s an 8 in the morning too.

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