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by Sarah Steimer

The cake is Martha Stewart's recipe, but the icing is my own. It's really a great idea to read the comments or reviews on recipes you find online. I was fully intending to use the icing recipe that was posted with the cake recipe until I noticed a few readers comment on how gross it was.

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, water and peppermint extract to the dry mixture and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Divide the batter between among lined muffin tins, filling about 2/3 of the way full. You should fill a whole pan on the first round and about 1/3 of the next pan, making about 18-20 cupcakes in all.

So beautiful yet such a pain. But maybe you're more patient and delicate than I.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Test with a knife or toothpick to make sure the cupcakes are cooked through. Let cool completely on a rack before icing.

For the icing

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • green food coloring (optional)

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a medium bowl. Add the sugar, milk or water, and the extracts. Mix until creamy, adding more milk or water as necessary. Add about two or three drops of green food coloring and mix for a light green color.

For the chocolate mint leaves

Now, this part was sort of absurd but I really wanted to try it. The results were pretty – but not enough turned out well that I was able to use them on all of my cupcakes. See the last picture in the post for another (easier) option.

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 or 2 bunches of mint leaves

Melt the chocolate morsels in a double-boiler or in the microwave, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Let cool slightly.

If you do go the mint leaf route, be prepared to also cover your entire kitchen in chocolate.

Using a small, soft (and clean) paintbrush, apply the melted chocolate to the backs of the individual mint leaves. Do not use just a thin coat, you don’t want to see any of the leaf sticking through. Plus, the thicker the chocolate, the easier the leaf will be to pull off.

Arrange each leaf as you go on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Drape a few over spoons or other utensils so the leaves have a more “alive” look. Place in the refrigerator or freezer so they may set.

Once the leaves are ready, take only a couple out at a time and remove the leaves from the chocolate. You will many of these unless you’re a magical being. Place the finished leaves back in the fridge/freezer to set one last time.

Ice the cupcakes and top with the chocolate leaves. Or just do this:

Ta-da! The MUCH easier version that my co-workers received (sorry for the lack of fanciness, guys).

Cupcake and leaf recipe from: Martha Stewart

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by Caitlin Saniga

The recipe says to use French feta because it’s “creamier, milder, and less salty than the Greek version.” But I used the Greek feta and cut back on the salt. Tastes great!

  • 1 container (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh figs (about 8 figs), halved lengthwise
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

In a medium bowl, mix feta and figs. Drizzle olive oil over, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with mint leaves.

Makes 2 big servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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