Posts Tagged ‘peppermint’

Mint Choc Cupcakes

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Weren’t we all brought up on the luxury of After Eights or Elizabeth Shaw Mint Crisps or Matchmakers, those quintessentially 1970s pieces of sophistication?  Or was it just me?  So using our new mintier Organic Peppermint Extract, I decided to create these Mint Choc Cupcakes that bring together the luxury of chocolate cupcakes with a 1970s feel of mintiness coming from the peppermint flavours in the cake, chocolate topping and then sprinkled Matchmakers over the top.

Simple, delicious and so retro.

Mint Choc Cupcakes By Axel Steenberg

Mint Choc Cupcakes By Axel Steenberg

Mint Choc Cupcakes

80g / 2¾oz organic butter (at room temperature)
175g / 1 cup / 6oz Fairtrade caster sugar
1 large free range egg (at room temperature)
170g / 1 cup / 6oz organic self raising flour
1tbsp Fairtrade organic cocoa powder
100ml / ⅓ cup full fat milk
1tsp Steenbergs organic peppermint extract
150g / 5¼oz Fairtrade milk chocolate
50ml / ¼ cup double cream
¼tsp Steenbergs organic peppermint extract
Some Matchmakers or other crispy mint chocolate

1.  Preheat the oven to 160C / 320F.  Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake papers.

2.  Using an electric hand whisk cream together the butter and caster sugar until light.  Add the large egg and mix well.

3.  Add the self raising flour and cocoa in two halves and mix in thoroughly.  Add the milk and Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract until well mixed in.

4.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake papers.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until firm to touch.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then cool on a wire rack.  They must be totally cool before putting on the topping.

5.  Over a pan of boiling water, melt the milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Allow to cool a little, then thoroughly mix in the cream, the Steenbergs organic peppermint extract and allow to cool and thicken.

6.  Spread the chocolate frosting neatly over the cupcakes, then decorate with broken Matchmakers or other peppermint crisp.

A Couple Of Simple Recipes Using Steenbergs Peppermint Extract

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Using Steenbergs relaunched organic peppermint extract, I made a few peppermint flavoured sweets the other evening for a Diwali meal that we were treated to by some good friends.  They are really simple and quite delicious; the hostess loved the Peppermint Chocolate Biscuit Cake the most, but none of these sweets was left over by the end.

Peppermint Creams

Peppermint Creams

Plate Of Peppermint Creams

450g / 1lb organic icing sugar, sifted
125ml / ½ cup condensed milk
4-5tsp Steenbergs Organic peppermint extract
200g/ 7oz dark chocolate

Sieve the icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then add the condensed milk.  Mix the condensed milk thoroughly into the icing sugar.  To mix it in use a spoon and your fingers to mix it through.

Then add the Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract and work the peppermint flavour thoroughly through the mix.

Roll the peppermint cream mix out on a clean surface until about 4mm thick.  Using a small circular cutter of around 1.5cm in diameter, cut out circles and leave these on a plate or piece of baking parchment.  Leave to dry out for about 1 hour.

Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of boiling water, then dip the peppermint circles into the melted chocolate to half cover the peppermint.  Place onto some baking parchment to let the peppermint creams cool down and harden.

Peppermint Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Peppermint Flavoured Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Peppermint Biscuit Cake

160g / 5½oz butter
4tbsp golden syrup
16 digestive biscuits
200g / 7oz milk chocolate
1tsp Steenbergs Organic peppermint extract

Grease a small baking tray then line the base with some baking parchment.

Break the digestive biscuits into crumbs (easiest to do this in a plastic bag tied at end, then bash with rolling pin).

Put the butter and golden syrup in a heavy bottomed pan and melt together over a low heat.  Add the broken biscuit crumbs to the butter syrup and mix well.  Scoop into baking tray and press into the tray.  Chill in fridge.

Break the milk chocolate into a bowl and gently melt them over a pan of simmering water.  Remove the bowl from the pan carefully (it will be hot).  Allow the melted chocolate to cool for 5 minutes, add the Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract and mix into the chocolate and then spread over biscuit base.  Chill in fridge.

Turn out the biscuit cake, then cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.

Our Agony With Peppermint

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Peppermint has been giving us here a headache over the last few months.  Somehow our peppermint just was not quite good enough and we have spent lots of time trying to work out why and what we could do about it?  Firstly, the peppermint tea was minty but missed that zinginess and spiciness that we really craved, while the peppermint extract was more tea-like than peppermint-creamy.  They were what they said on the tin, but for Steenbergs it was not good enough.

The first thing we needed to track down was the right peppermint.  Peppermint is a hybrid that crosses watermint with spearmint that was originally found in England but probably occurs elsewhere in the wild.  It has a higher menthol content than other mints, having a spicy and zingy flavour reminiscent of watercress rather than that sweeter and fruitier taste from spearmint.  Just like at Summerdown in Hampshire*, we fell for the Black Mitcham variety; actually, ours was sampled as a Mitchum strain originally from Montana on the west coast of America, but later it transpired that this was actually Black Mitcham.  Mitcham is in the Borough of Merton in Greater London and was well known for its lavender and peppermint crops.  Steenbergs organic Black Mitcham peppermint comes from a few plants that one of our suppliers took out to their project in Egypt several decades ago and has become the basis for their whole peppermint crop; it is grown organically and biodynamically.  It brews a tar black brew that has that powerful aroma from the menthol; if you brew the tea in a pot, then lift the lid off and stick your nose into the pot, you get a really powerful hit of menthol that is wonderfully cleansing.

We then debated adding back some peppermint oil to the leaves to increase the menthol strength of the leaves, but felt that this enhanced the aroma before brewing but slightly dulled the actual taste when you made the infusion.  In the end, we felt steeping the leaves a little longer more than compensated for any slight loss of volatile oils from the drying process.  We feel that that Steenbergs organic peppermint now compares well against leaves picked straight from the garden and the Black Mitcham variety has lifted our Moroccan Mint, which we sell as Green Tea With Peppermint.

As for the organic peppermint extract, it just did not feel or look right.  The old extract was deep green like an herbal infusion and had a strong alcohol nose, which worked well as an addition to herbal tea, but never felt quite right for that peppermint cream taste and aroma reminiscent of Bendicks Bittermints. So while it pains me to say it, we just needed something better.

We have done two things.  Firstly, we have put the organic peppermint extract on an organic sunflower oil base, rather than its previous alcoholic base, which has removed the strong boozy notes.  Secondly, we have sourced a good peppermint oil, whereas the previous version was more of an alcohol-peppermint infusion, which has dramatically improved both the aroma and taste.  It has all cost us a lot more in raw materials’ costs, which we are absorbing for the moment by holding our prices for Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract until 2012.

I hope the improvement pleases everyone as much as it does us.  Also, as an aside, we welcome constructive criticism anytime as it was one of our loyal customers who kicked me into action to make this change that I had been thinking about for some time.

However, ff you need something stronger, then I would suggest a pure peppermint oil rather extract, which is even more potent, but as of yet we are not geared to packing little bottles of oils.  Summerdown do a good non-organic one, or Baldwins have an organic essential oil.

Two quick, easy and tasty uses of Steenbergs Organic Peppermint Extract are to be found in my next blog…

* I must confess that I was disappointed by the Summerdown Peppermint Tea that I have tried, even if it is better than Twinings.  There was a hint of sweetness to it that I did not expect; in fact, I felt that it had a spearmint taste to it that should not have been there and is not right in a peppermint tea.