Peppermint for the holidays? Of course. Peppermint and chocolate? Even better. And all wrapped up in a jar. I first saw this recipe several years ago at ourbestbites.com. It is a delicious, fudge-filled, minty, and rich dessert. Most of us quit eating after about half the jar and saved the rest for later.

Cupcakes

Makes approximately 8 jars or 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces chocolate, chopped (or about 1/2 cup chips). Use bittersweet, dark, or semi-sweet.
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons real butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 8 ounce wide mouth mason jars (the short squatty kind)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set mixture aside and let cool 10-15 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  4. Using a wooden spoon (don’t use an electric mixer) stir the sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture until combined.
  5. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating with your spoon until combined, and then beat in the vanilla.
  6. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not over mix.
  7. Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 jars (no need for greasing the jars) or 12 cupcake liners if you prefer not to use jars. The jars should be about half full or a little less. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the jar comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, approximately 22-25 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and transfer jars to a cooling rack. Let jars cool until close to room temperature before topping with ganache.

Peppermint Ganache

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a bowl.
  2. Heat cream in microwave until bubbles form around the outside. Pour over chocolate chips and immediately cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add peppermint extract and whisk until smooth.
  4. Let cool uncovered until thickened slightly, almost like a thin pudding.
  5. Pour 1 1/2-2 tablespoons ganache over the top of each cupcake jar. If desired, use a paring knife to first hollow out a well in the middle of the cake.  Tilt jars to distribute ganache evenly over the top of the cake and then let cool for the ganache to set.  If storing overnight, place lids and rings on jars and leave at room temperature.

Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole milk is best)
  • 1/2 cup real butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or other flavor if you wish
  • 1/4-3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Candy canes, crushed

Directions

  1. Whisk together the flour and the milk.
  2. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  3. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring with a rubber spatula, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until mixture has the consistency of thick pudding or paste.
  4. Put mixture in the refrigerator and let it cool completely. As it’s cooling, feel free to stir it occasionally to speed up the process and keep a crust from forming on top.
  5. In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer if you have one, instead of the flat paddle.
  6. While beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla.
  7. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Mixture will separate and look messy, keep beating!  Continue beating until mixture comes together and is light and fluffy, about 7-8 minutes, but time varies.
  8. Take a sample of frosting between your fingers; frosting is done when light and fluffy and sugar granules are dissolved.
  9. Add peppermint extract (in addition to the vanilla extract called for) by 1/4 teaspoon at a time to taste (usually ½ to ¾ teaspoon is best).
  10. Pipe frosting on each jar, being careful to leave room for the lid.
  11. Sprinkle on some crushed candy canes and then screw on jar lids.

The recipe looks long and hard to do, but it really is easy. You can even buy ready-made vanilla frosting and stir in some peppermint extract to save time. And cupcakes made in a jar keep better than regular cupcakes if you have to mail them. Happy holidays!