Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chocolate & Mint; made for each other, a Holiday Potluck & Cupcake Hero!

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'Tis the season for Chocolate & Mint to mingle together in deliciousness! If noshing on Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's isn't enough for you, you make have found yourself doing some baking using this combination commonly used at this time of year.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been looking for the perfect vegan chocolate cake recipe. I need depth of flavor & a bit of fluff, not like those cocoa-only based cakes out there. I believe I may have found my winner, but as a person who doesn't like to settle for second best, I have a few more things to try before posting it here. Luckily, this deep chocolate cake has been a perfect pairing with the kick of mint, so I used it in both cake & cupcake form to make treats for friends & family.

My brother Kyle turned 21 in early December & I volunteered to make him a birthday cake, of course! I recalled his fondness for Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream as a child, & used it as my inspiration for a Chocolate Cake filled & decorated with Mint Icing & topped with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. While I'd never considered myself a "mint person" in the past, I was quickly converted & couldn't get enough of this cake's combination. Luckily, my family felt the same & the cake was quickly consumed!

I'm always looking for an excuse to gather together & eat with friends, so I hosted a Holiday themed party in my home for a group of local vegans. I know many of us don't get a full spread of options at family celebrations, so this was a chance to load up our plates without questioning the contents of anything! The food was delicious; from latkes to herbed stuffing, vegan quiche and quinoa cakes, I was impressed with the spread of food that came together! I was on dessert duty & decided a return to the chocolate mint combination was in order, but in an easily served cupcake form!

Rich chocolate cupcakes were topped with a swirl of Mint Icing & Candy Cane Joe Joe cookies hand dipped in Bittersweet Guittard Chocolate! The depth of the chocolate played off the refreshing mint, while the dipped cookies were a treat all on their own! For those who've never had a Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe, it's a sandwich cookie similar to an Oreo, but the center contains a peppermint-vanilla creme with crushed candy canes in it! While the combination may sound odd or just alright, these cookies are highly addictive & similar to the Thin Mints your local girl scout pushes.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies
While hardly a recipe, I thought some information on dipping techniques could be useful.

Ingredients & Tools:
Chocolate of your choice, chopped (I used E. Guittard Bittersweet Wafers, no chopping needed!)
Cookies of your choice
A double boiler or a water filled pot with a bowl suspended over it
Parchment paper on a flat surface near your stove top

Place the chocolate in the bowl or top of your double boiler & heat it up until it is fluid, being careful not to burn it. Make sure you have a decent amount of chocolate, so you can easily cover the size cookie you're using.

Once the chocolate is fluid, dip a single cookie in to the bowl coating each side evenly. It's likely you'll burn your fingers, especially if you touch the bottom or sides, so be cautious of this & move quickly!

Once coated, let the excess drip from the cookie & place it on the parchment paper to dry.
Sandwich cookies are great for this, as you can stand them up to dry & the chocolate that moves to the base of the cookie makes an excellent platform to keep them from falling over on your cake or cupcakes.

Let the chocolate dry completely while you tackle another project. Don't touch them, or you'll have smudges & fingerprints on them.

Once the cookie is dry, it will lift cleanly from the parchment paper. Try not to eat them all before they make it on to your baked goods or give in & make them especially for snacking on!

By the way, the theme for December's Cupcake Hero contest happens to be mint, so I thought I'd enter my Chocolate cupcakes with Mint Icing & Bittersweet chocolate dipped Candy Cane Joe Joe's, as I've never seen a vegan entry in the contest. The co-host is the awesome Natalie from Bake & Destroy, who rocks out vegan cupcakes of her own from time to time!

I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday season filled with lots of delicious sweet treats!


Unknown said...

this is a wonderful post. i can get mint newman o's here, but the thought of sandwich cookies with bits of candycane crushed into the creme is breathtaking. i also love the way the cookies look with the smooth melted chocolate. was everyone delighted?


Natalie said...

Candy Cane Joe Joes are amazing and I have you to thank for that. Oh, and Trader Joe's.

Traci Anne said...

These. Look. DELICIOUS!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Thanks for mentioning the candy cane Joe-Joes... I just bought them and LOVE LOVE LOVE them :o). And I'd definitely vote for your cupcakes!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

oh my goodness I can't get over how beautiful that cake is that you made for your brother - gorgeous!! oh and your cupcakes are amazing-looking - the cookies make for a lovely finishing touch!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, like you really need to make those Joe Joe's even more addictive... You're a dangerous woman in the kitchen! ;)

Anonymous said...

Holy candy cane Joe Joes! I did not think the Joe Joes could possibly get any better. I am definitely going to get another box. Great cupcakes and cake!

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

oh good god. i want some of that cake and some of those chocolate dipped cookies. whoa!

Liz Ranger (Bubble Tea for Dinner) said...

chocolate and mint! and chocolate *dipped* chocolate and mint! I'm in heaven, and your cake looks spotlessly delish. Also, thank you for the dipping tips! I recently tried my hand at thin mints using microwaved chocolate and the whole shebang set up on me... I'll use a double boiler next time. :)

Anonymous said...

I have hear so many good things about the TJ's candy cane cookies - I had no idea. I probably shouldn't have turned my nose up when I saw them at the store :)

Pink Theory said...

mmmmm, mint and chocolate, a heavenly combination. I want one of those for breakfast :-)

Diz Rivera said...

YUM! They look great.

Hey, I wanted to tell you about an initiative we're trying to get on the November 2008 ballot, a measure that would provide the most basic protection to farm animals. The initiative would ban veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages from large Californian factory farms. As you probably already know these are the cruelest and most inhumane forms of extreme confinement used on big corporate farms. They are archaic and only cause an animal stress, fear and pain. Arizona, Florida and Oregon have already banned gestation crates, and Arizona has also banned veal crates. The European Union has banned all three.

We need 350,000 more signatures from registered Californian voters BY THE END OF FEBRUARY to get this most moderate of measures on the ballot. Please check out Californians for Humane Farms ( for more information and how to obtain petition information.

Anyway, sorry to use up your comment space for this, but I know you're in Cali, and probably not enough people know about this. Just trying to spread the word and using the power of the vegan blog network! :-)
Happy New Year!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh chocolate and mint is one of my favorite flavor combinations. So sad I don't live anywhere near a Trader Joe's....
Both your cake and cupcakes are so beautiful. I think one of my new year's resolutions is to gain some serious piping skillz like yours...

Ruby Red said...

i've never been a cupcake lover but your chocolate mint ones just might convert me! like your brother kyle, i adored mint chocolate chip ice cream in my childhood. your cupcakes look beautiful with the joe-joes on top. what a great idea!

having or attending a vegan potluck is something i really need to do. it's a good way to get a full vegan meal, and all you have to do is prepare one dish yourself!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

I think I just passed out.

Anonymous said...

i love chocolate and mint together. this is making me hungry.

bazu said...

oh god, you're so right- chocolate and mint are a match made in heaven. rivaled only by chocolate/orange, perhaps...

Jen said...

I <3 Chocolate + Mint!

All these dessert photos... my goodness, I'm in sugar heaven just looking at these gorgeous photos!

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

The cake and the cupcake look amazing!

vko said...

I need to get me to trader Joe's asap. Love that chocolate cake & love me some mint- sounds like the perfect cake! And so nice of you to host a vegan holiday get-together...

Carla said...

Congratulations on winning the Cupcake Hero Mint Challenge! They not only look beautiful but delicious.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

congratulations on your CH win!!

Anonymous said...

Those oreo cupcakes look amazing. What a great idea!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

kittee- People seemed pretty happy to me! I think visually they're so fun, that people instantly like them. (Much like your cakes!)

natalie- Glad you like them.. but does TENO like them?!

CCvegan- YAY! I'm glad you enjoy them.

Hannah- Just when you thought your Joe Joe's were safe..

ppvegan- Come over, I'll make them for you!

Liz- Sorry to hear about your chocolate issues, I've been there myself!

VeganFab- I wasn't convinced by the box alone, I had to try them to fall in love.

Pink Theory- I think they're great for ANY time!

Amanda- I wouldn't say I have piping skills! I actually want to take a cake decorating class, like you, but I just booked a trip to Europe, so it may have to wait.

Ruby Red- The mint of the cupcake gives them a nice kick that keep them from seeming overly sweet! Potlucks are my favorite; it's always nice to try new dishes & not make them all yourself.

jess- Wake up, there's cupcakes waiting for you at my house.

bazu- I haven't really tried the chocolate-orange combo. I had a bar of chocolate with tangerine & it was alright. It sounds like I have a new project!

vko- Get thee to TJs, before they run out! I always love to have a veg party.

traci anne, veggiegirl, gigi, veg*tri, holler, carla, steph, sockbuttons- Thank you so much!

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