I blame the mint crisp chocolate bar that was first available during my teenage years (am I giving my age away here? Oh dear, yes - there will be a very significant birthday later this year!) as I really went for them in a big way at the time and really went off them in the end, but I really dislike the mint / choc combo. But reading this recipe from Eunice Power in the Irish Times some months ago gave me pause for thought - I loved her lemon and raspberry cake recipe that was also published that day; the author's sons do, apparently, describe these cakes as "unreal" - and on reflection, I've never knowingly refused an After Eight (or two!), so thought I'd try it out...
The buns themselves were very straightforward to make, pretty much the usual recipe but with some cocoa powder thrown in and peppermint extract instead of vanilla. The recipe suggested a cooking time of 15 - 20 minutes, I found that mine needed closer to the full twenty. The icing is also regular butter icing, with a drop of green colouring and again, peppermint instead of vanilla extract.
This recipe makes 12 regular sized fairy cakes, or you can also make them bite-sized, 48 mini muffin cases. Eunice Power (the original author of the recipe), suggests the bite sized ones are best, she says they are nicest "eaten whole". I'll have to take her word on that - I only have a regular tin and neither my local Dunnes nor Tesco could provide a mini tin. I was too lazy to go further afield, I'll get one in town one day. Anyhow, they were gorgeous and we weren't complaining.
For the fairy cakes
- 125g soft (room temperature) butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125g self raising flour
- 20g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp peppermint essence
- 2 tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 170C / gas mark 3
- Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended (I just whizzed them with the electric hand mixer)
- Spoon into bun cases
- Bake until cooked - about 15-20 mins for the bun size and 10 mins for the mini ones, then leave to cool on a wire rack
For the icing
- 250g icing sugar
- 125g butter, softened
- 1 tsp peppermint essence
- 1 - 2 tbsp milk
- A drop or two of green food colouring
- Beat the butter til creamy, add the sugar and beat in, adding a drop or two of milk to bring the mixture together (very little is required)
- Add the peppermint essence and a drop of green food colouring (I use the pastes, they are great - expensive, but you need very little, literally a dip a cocktail stick and use a tiny dot, you can always add a little more - as the original author put it, you want "a gentle shade of green, not a patriotic one" and I totally agree)
- Spoon icing onto the buns and decorate with some shards of chocolate flake
Enjoy - these would make a lovely dessert for a sunny day, they are not at all heavy or dense and I would think that in mini form they would be a lovely sweet bite for after that groaningly massive barbecue (I don't know about you, but I always eat to much at a barbie!) and just enough "to take the grease from your mouth", as my grandfather said.
|Mint Chocolate Fairy Cakes, with my mint plant in the background|