Peppermint–Devil’s Food Hi-Hat Cupcakes excerpted from THE FEARLESS BAKER © 2017 by Erin McDowell. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Hi-hat cupcakes can turn a sophisticated adult into a happy kid in five seconds flat. What makes this cupcake a hi-hat? A huge mound of marshmallowy frosting. It’s flavored with peppermint and then covered with a thin layer of chocolate glaze. Erin love to make these cupcakes for the holidays!
For the Cake
- 1 1/ 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 1/ 4 cups whole milk
- 9 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/ 4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Chocolate Glaze
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 1/ 2 cup coconut oil
For the Peppermint Seven Minute Frosting
- 5 large egg whites
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/ 4 cup water
- 1/ 4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/ 2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 drops red food coloring, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C, with a rack in the middle. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. (For cupcakes see variation)
Make the cakes: Place the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Whisk in the boiling water until fully combined. Stir in the milk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl well. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add one third of the mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed to combine. Add half the cocoa-and-milk mixture and mix to incorporate. Repeat, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, until both are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans (about 652 g per pan). Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the glaze: Combine the chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water (with the bowl not touching the water). Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully melted and combined. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the frosting: Combine the egg whites, sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water (with the bowl not touching the water) and heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly warm to the touch (if you want to check with an instant-read thermometer, it should register about 140°F / 60°C), 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer) and whip on medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy and holds medium peaks, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the peppermint and vanilla extracts and food coloring, if using, and mix to combine. Transfer the frosting to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a plain tip about ½ inch wide, or just cut a ½-inch opening in the tip of the bag (or the corner of a heavy-duty zip-top bag.)
Frost the cupcakes: Place the cupcakes on a work surface and pipe a tall spiral of frosting onto each one, starting at the edge and working around the cupcake: After you’ve piped frosting all around the edge, let the frosting start to build upward once you reach the place where you started and continue building the spiral upward, layer by layer, until it’s about 3 inches tall. When you’ve nearly finished piping, release the pressure on the bag and pull it away, giving the spiral a nicely curled tip. Chill the frosted cupcakes for 20 to 30 minutes.
Glaze the frosting: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a wire rack on top. Transfer the cooled chocolate glaze to a tall container, such as a large liquid measuring cup (this makes for easier dipping; be sure the opening of the container is wide enough for the cupcakes). Hold each cupcake upside down and dunk it deep enough into the chocolate glaze to fully cover the frosting (let any excess glaze drip off; because the cupcakes are cold, though, the glaze should mostly start to set immediately), then set the glazed cupcake on the wire rack.
Transfer the cupcakes to the refrigerator and chill until the glaze is set, at least 5 minutes.
This batter makes really good cupcakes. To make 18 cupcakes, cut the recipe in half. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in greased or lined muffin pans.
WHY IT WORKS
Like many of the best chocolate cake recipes, this recipe starts by drowning cocoa powder in boiling water—a step that brings out its intense chocolaty flavors. You want to make sure that this mixture isn’t too hot when you add it to the batter, or it could melt the butter and possibly break the batter.
To avoid having to wait for the liquid to cool, I stir the cold milk into the cocoa mixture, lowering the temperature, so it is good to go right away.
WHY IT WORKS
The Devil’s Food Cake recipe produces cupcakes that bake flat, or with only a small dome. This is a sign that the batter has the proper amount of structure.
The chocolate glaze for these cupcakes is a homemade version of the store-bought chocolate sauce that hardens when poured over ice cream. The coconut oil makes the chocolate more fluid and encourages it to set faster when it’s applied to a chilled surface.