Thin Mint Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day

mint cupcakes

‘Tis the season of Girl Scout cookies and there is none more famous and beloved than the thin mint, at least in my house. I love Girl Scout cookies, both for the memories of being a scout and for what they represent; empowering kids is always a good thing. Sadly, the days of my 13-year-old metabolism are long gone, when I was capable of eating an entire box at a sitting. Now just a couple cookies will do me and the thin mints are still my favorites. They just seemed to have the perfect ratio of chocolate to mint, and go down easy with a glass of milk. I have to act quickly, because my boys are still at the age when they can polish off an entire box, even though mom would never allow such a thing. 😉

This cupcake recipe manages to be light, fluffy and moist, all at the same time. It starts with a true all-American white birthday cake. The recipe is made with whipped egg whites and no yolks, so the color is bright white. It’s perfect for adding color, but this time I left that to the mint icing. A thin layer of ganache between the cake and icing makes these just a touch more sophisticated, in case you are looking for a St. Patrick’s Day treat to bring to work. The super creamy icing is one that I made from Vintage Cakes, an adorable addition to my cookbook collection. It is made by thickening milk and flour together into a smooth paste, then adding it to creamed, sweetened butter. The thickened milk and flour gives the icing body and a luxurious texture. Despite the extra step, it is an easy recipe, my 11-year-old made it start to finish with perfect results. The basic icing takes flavors really well, so a bit of mint extract and a few caps full of Crème de menthe and these cupcakes taste just like a thin mint. (more…)

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Mint Cheesecake for St. Patrick’s Day

mint cheesecake

When I was growing up in Vermont we celebrated St. Patricks Day at school by dressing up in green. It was fun, although green really isn’t my color, but I had no idea what any of it meant. It never occurred to me that it went beyond shamrock knee-highs, until I went to Chicago on March 17th, quite by accident. The city shut down at noon, people flooded the streets, wearing green and carrying beer of the same color. Even the mighty river was dyed green in honor of the 4th century Saint.  Although few people probably know the origins of the festivities, we still honor this religious man all these centuries later by wearing green and celebrating Irish culture. Even for those of us who have no ties to Ireland, it is too fun to miss out on.

This minty cheesecake is my nod to the day. It seemed fitting to go green, but I wanted to do something particularly fun. The stripes are easy to create and make for a terrific “Wow” moment when you slice into the cake. The trick to the color is a dash or two of food coloring. I do use fresh mint in the batter, which adds a bright, fresh flavor, but on its own, it is honestly a bit lack luster in color. The chocolate crust makes the whole thing taste like a super-lush “thin mint.” (more…)

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Lemon Champagne Mint Cocktails turned into Granita!

A couple weeks ago I mentioned on my Twitter page that I was competing with my neighbor in a cocktail pour-off. I couldn’t share my recipe then, because spying eyes from across the lawn could not be trusted. Truth be told, I was in over my head on this one and needed any advantage I could get. In the end my neighbor Kathy won with her refreshing and seasonal “Dirty Ramp-tinis.”  She pickled the ramps, then poured ice cold gin over them and drizzled a bit of the pickling juice into the glass. They were simple perfection. I bowed my head to her after the first sip. My creations were dessert to her cocktail appetizers. I, of course, went for something with a bit of sweetness, but also tart and refreshing. I have been known to enjoy my sparkling beverages in the form of cava, prosecco and champagne; it was bound to be featured it in the glass. I had candied kumquats in my cupboard and lemongrass in my crisper drawer, so a citrus theme was born. I made a Meyer lemon and lemongrass sorbet to float in the champagne. I came in second (it was just the two of us competing), but I think I could have won against anything other than the “Dirty Ramp-tinis.” I did get extra points for presentation; I used my grandmother’s glasses and the drink really was lovely.

As I was enjoying my “Lemongrass Champagne Fizz Cocktail” I was already planning to make these same ingredients into a simple granita. Granita is like the rugged cousin of the sorbet. It has large crystals of flavored ice that require nothing but a basic freezer to make. It is perfect for those without an ice cream maker or those, like me, who just forgot to freeze the one I do own. It also doesn’t require a precise recipe to freeze smooth, since part of its charm is the icy texture.

The Cake Decorating Giveaway is still open. Click to read more details on how to win a Cupcake decorating set!


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Minty Macarons for St. Patrick’s Day!

Everything about a macaron says France. They are sophisticated, gorgeous, delicious and have a romance to them; a certain je ne sais quoi? (That was gratuitous, but I couldn’t help throwing in one of the few French phrases I can actually pronounce.) But, it is true, they have a mystique to them that is both alluring and intimidating, like a really gorgeous woman; think Catherine Deneuve and Brigit Bardot. When you bite into them they are just as beautiful on the inside, and inviting, even seductive. I can eat my entire body weight in these nut-meringue cookies and still want for more. What on Earth does all of this have to do with St. Patrick’s day you might ask? I admit it is a stretch, but I really wanted to make them and they are adorable in green. I added a bit of mint to the ganache and voila, you have a St. Patrick’s day macaron! (more…)

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Crazy-Good Chocolate Brownies with Mint Ice Cream! (A Giveaway from King Arthur Flour!) WINNERS PICKED!

These brownies have secrets! I baked them, passed them out to my family, my neighbors and my friends to see what they thought. I didn’t say anything, just asked for their honest opinions and this is what I got… “they are so RICH,” “beyond decadent,” “Amazing,” “Great, Can I have another one?” (he is 9) and on and on. Not a bad review in the bunch. No one guessed that they were Gluten-Free and from a King Arthur Flour mix. Yep, two things I rarely play with are gluten-free desserts and mixes. The reason for this tasty little experiment has to do with a young boy I met in upstate NY when I was teaching classes at the Battenkill Kitchen. He suggested that I make them and I couldn’t refuse. I added some dark chocolate ganache, blackberries and possibly the best Mint Leaf Ice Cream I’ve ever had.  Gluten-free or not this is one fabulous dessert!

I’ll start with my ice cream which actually tastes like fresh mint, because that is exactly what it is made with. No hyped up extracts that resemble Trident Spearmint Gum, just natural, summery mint.

*King Arthur Giveaway details below!


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Strawberries in Red Wine, keep it simple (but delicious) on Earth Day! (the last Le Creuset giveaway for Mother’s Day!)

Today is Earth Day and in an attempt to keep my “cookprint” to a minimum, I decided to make a simple, but crazy delicious dessert. Once again Lynne Rossetto Kasper is my inspiration. You see, my husband and I are planning a trip to Italy this summer with our boys. In an attempt to get ready for the journey we’ve been eating a lot of Italian food. I figure it is more important to understand the food than, let’s say, learn the language! 😉 So I whipped up a batch of Lynne’s lasagna and then followed it with this incredibly easy and yet divine bowl of strawberries.

I’ve been reading on other food blogs about the perfect spring crop of fresh strawberries. Well, here in Minneapolis we finally have buds on the trees, but we’re a good while off before we are plucking fruits from the vine. In fact today is the day that the Backyard Harvest folks deliver the dirt for my Urban Farm. By June I’ll have my own organic garden, but until then…to the market I go. The strawberries I bought at the store were decent, but not yet at their full potential. To maximize their flavor I macerated them in red wine and a touch of sugar. A little chiffonade of mint and they were bright and summery.

Keep reading to find out about the last Le Creuset giveaway!


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