fresh mint chocolate cupcakes (gluten-free)

Now I know this isn't exactly an Irish themed recipe except for the fact that these cupcakes are green but I wanted to whip up something that was tinted green naturally and was light and fresh. And so that's where mint came in. I don't think clovers would really have done the trick. But they grow mint in Ireland, right? Taking a bite out of these I wasn't exactly tasting Guiness, more like mojito or mint julep. Reminds me of summer! I used this chocolate quinoa cake recipe and it worked out great. It doesn't give you a nice little rounded top but that just means more delicious mint buttercream ;)

For the cupcakes (from Quinoa 365):

2/3 c. white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 c. water
1/3 c. milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 c. white or cane sugar
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 350º (180ºC). Line muffin tin with liners.

3. Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooked quinoa and the butter and blend until smooth.

4. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well.

5. Pour the batter into cupcake liners and bake on the centre rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

For the buttercream (adapted from how sweet it is)

1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped fine
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk

1. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in powdered sugar gradually (1/2 cup at a time) with the mixer on low speed, slowly increasing the speed until it combines.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend mint, milk (start with 1 tbsp) and vanilla extract until the mint is as fine as possible (about 1 minute).

3. Add mint mixture to butter and mix for 4-5 minutes on medium speed.

4. Add more milk if consistency is to thick.

5. Pipe or spread buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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