Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mint Oreo Cupcakes and Uh, Laziness

Sooooo, I feel like we know each other pretty well now . . . and I feel like I can be honest with you all. The cupcakes pictured here are um, well, they're from a box. I wrote it really tiny because I'm ashamed. Like the little kid who whispers and turns away when he has to tell his parents that he flushed his brother's underwear down the toilet. I found myself baking at 11pm not once, but twice this week and I just didn't have the energy to bust out my measuring cups. Please don't judge me.

The thing is, they were so easy and delicious, I don't even regret it. If I want to make a fancy kind of cake, like something with fresh fruit, or if I'm baking something really special, I take pleasure in making a cake from scratch. Or if I want to experiment with a new kind of flour, I'm totally game for measuring ingredients until I'm blue in the face. But when the star of the show is really the homemade mint frosting and surprise cookie crust (coupled with the fact that my chance at getting more than 5 hours of sleep is getting smaller and smaller), I'm ok turning to a box. Organic food stores now have some good choices for boxed cake mix if you're concerned about ingredients. This girl, however, turned to Betty Crocker.

I made these cupcakes twice this week, once with red velvet cake mix and once with plain chocolate. The red velvet was definitely the winner. It tasted better with the cookie and the frosting (plus made a nice red and green theme for our holiday treats). I also tested out using a full oreo cookie in each cupcake versus twisting off the top wafer and just using one wafer plus icing. Using the full oreo was the clear winner.

Secret: if you want to wow your friends with cupcakes, just use a pastry bag for the frosting. Not only does it produce beautiful, evenly frosted cupcakes, it is SO FAST. I probably frosted 16 cupcakes in three minutes. Just do your best to avoid air bubbles in the pastry bag when filling it with frosting. I'm lucky enough to have a BFF that owns an amazing bake shop in NYC, CityCakes (if you live in the city, go there! Owner chefs Marc and Benny are nice and easy on the eyes), so I learned from the best. But it's not rocket science and I'm confident you too can make a perfectly frosted cupcake.

I used a standard Wilton brand pastry bag with a wide metal tip. If you don't have these tools, grab a gallon sized ziplock baggie, fill it with your frosting, and then snip off a corner so that you have about a 1/2 inch opening. Voilà, you are a pastry chef extraordinaire.

*Helpful tip for boxed cake mix: I make a lot of cupcakes, but it's rare that I ever want the full 24-28 cupcakes that come in a box. Or sometimes I want to make different flavors, but don't need a whole box of each. So instead of wasting ingredients, I divide the mix into thirds (thirds because boxed mix usually calls for 3 eggs). Measure out 1-1/4 cups of the dry mix and store each third in a small ziplock baggie (there might be a smidge extra, so just divide it among the bags). Store the unused bags of cake mix in the original box so that you still have the directions when you use the remainder and so that you remember what flavor it is. 

This recipe in particular will make even more cupcakes because a large chunk of the batter is replaced with a sandwich cookie.

Mint Oreo Cupcakes

Makes 30 cupcakes

1 box red velvet cake mix
1 package mint sandwich cookies (mint Oreos, mint Newman-Os, or Mint Joe-Joes from Trader Joes)
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract
muffin cups

Mint Frosting
12 oz. cream cheese
8 tbs. butter (1 stick)
6 cups powdered sugar (or more or less as needed)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract 
6-8 drops green food coloring
bar of chocolate (optional decoration) 

Line muffin tin with muffin cups. Place one sandwich cookie in each cup. Prepare cake batter as directed; add 3/4 tsp. mint extract. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake as directed. Let cool before frosting.

For frosting, use room temperature ingredients. If you forgot to take out your butter in advance, microwave it for 5 seconds, then flip the butter chunk and microwave for another 5 seconds. Mix cream cheese and butter together with a hand mixer. Add powdered sugar 2 cups at a time and continue to mix. First it will get crumbly, but keep mixing! 6 cups of powdered sugar is an estimate; add sugar progressively until you get the flavor/consistency that you like. Mix in extracts and food coloring.

Fill a pastry bag with frosting and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. For an added decoration, shave pieces of you favorite chocolate bar onto frosted cupcakes. I used a standard vegetable peeler on a large milk chocolate bar. Another yummy option would be chopped up Andes candies bits.

Your holiday entertainees will be too busy scarfing up your cupcakes to care that they came from a box. 


  1. Gah, the only thing that kills me about this blog is that i have to bake gluten free. GRUMBLE. Off to try to adapt...

  2. This sounds like an awesome cupcake! And hey, we all have to take shortcuts sometime!

  3. This is the perfect pre-wedding treat to help bribe my little brothers to stop whining that my nuptials are "ruining their Christmas." Um, I can't wait to make. I might even have to take a quick break from the bridal no-carb diet to try one (or two) myself. Thanks!

  4. OMG, am oreo on the bottom of a cupcake? Genius! Can't wait to try these!

  5. These look awesome!! Wow. And your pics are amazing! I can't wait to see the ones from last night.

    After the cookie swap I went to my friend's place to "share" the cookies with him and his roommates. I told them to leave me one of the oreo cookies to try...and what do you think happened. They ate them!! I was so upset. But they couldn't stop talking about how amazing they were, and they were deemed their favorite out of all the cookies.

    It was so good to meet you and I look forward to trying out some of your delicious recipes!

  6. Oh, Liz, we missed you this weekend! I named one of my cookies Teubner in your honor. I acutally didn't know you couldn't eat gluten...I'll see what I can do for ya.

    Allison, so nice meeting you too! Hopefully I'll see you again sometime! In the meantime, I'll follow you via the blogging world.

    Peggy, thanks for understanding. :) This shortcut recipe has actually been pretty popular!

    Caroline, tell your brothers to zip it and get back to their duties. Christmas will come again, but their sister's wedding will not (god-willing)!

    And Carrie, you're my #2 fan. Thx thx thx.

  7. i got to your blog from Emily's and I am wondering about the different fillings in your oreo cookies. I made an oreo cookie too and I never thought to change up the filling. will you share your recipes?

  8. Tami, absolutely! I did three fillings, mint (which is the same as the recipe for mint frosting in this post), hazelnut (my husband's favorite), and a vegan PB. Hopefully I'll get the recipes up in the next few days.

  9. Hey Katie! So nice to meet you last night! I definitely hid the oreos from my husband so I can keep them to myself. Plus they all had a bite out of them :)
    Love the calendar, I've been looking for something like this and may check out the holiday market some time this week!


  10. When you said, "from a box" I first thought like you picked up a box of cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake or something because these look so professional. Not like you made these gorgeous sweet beauties yourself. Ten points for style!! And I'm an oreo lover through and through so these are a must-try. :)

  11. Ok, so I attempted this recipe today. It is the first of yours that I have tried & only felt brave enough because you used a box cake. In honor of Valentine's Day, I changed the color of the icing to pink to go with the red velvet cupcake. So far the kids have each had a bite of one & it's a hit. We're taking them to dinner at friends' house tonight. I took some pics & tho mine look NOTHING like yours, I am a little bit proud that they look as good as they do. I'll post pics later--thanks for the inspiration!;)


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