These Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes are made with a rich and chocolatey cupcake and a festive peppermint frosting. Add a sprinkling of crushed candy canes and you'll instantly be in the holiday spirit!
(This recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes was originally published in December 2010, but was updated with new content and photos in 2020).
Is it weird to have dreams about frosting? I'd say I was asking for a friend, but that would be a lie... I'm definitely asking for myself. And that frosting just happens to be the peppermint frosting that tops these chocolate cupcakes.
Dreaming about frosting is probably at least a little bit weird. But it also sounds like it would be the literal definition of "sweet" dreams. And there are far worse things to dream about, so I'm going with it.
But I recommend taking this peppermint frosting OUT of my dreams and bringing it into your kitchen. And mouth.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This holiday cupcake recipe is especially fun because it has a unique look and yummy chocolate peppermint flavor!
I love peppermint flavor, but I don't like too much peppermint flavor. So, for these cupcakes, I made a simple (but delicious!) chocolate cupcake and then brought in the peppermint flavor with the peppermint frosting and crushed candy canes.
As you can see, not only is there frosting on top of the cupcakes, but I also sliced the cupcake in half and added more in the middle. Is too much frosting ever a bad thing?
The ingredients for these cupcakes and accompanying frosting are pretty standard. Here's everything required for the chocolate cupcakes:
- All-purpose flour
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Vegetable oil
- Large egg
- Vanilla extract
- Boiling water
- Crushed candy canes
And for the peppermint frosting:
- Unsalted butter
- Confectioners' sugar
- Peppermint extract
How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes
This cupcake recipe uses the boiling water method, which I find works especially well for chocolate cake recipes as it helps intensify the chocolate-y flavor. It also makes an exceptionally light and fluffy cake.
To start, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cavity cupcake tin with papers.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, add both sugars, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir together until well-combined.
Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stirring until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
Pour boiling water into bowl and fold until just combined (mixture will seem watery at first). Again, try not to over-mix the batter.
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, fill each cupcake paper with batter about ¾ of the way full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool in the tin for a few minutes before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.
You can make the peppermint frosting while the chocolate cupcakes cool.
How to Make Peppermint Frosting
Onto the frosting of my dreams. Really, there's nothing crazy about this recipe; it's just a simple buttercream frosting made with peppermint extract. But for whatever reason, it's so, so good!
To make it, all you have to do is beat butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Add in confectioners' sugar one cup at a time and continue to mix until fully incorporated.
Mix in peppermint extract and milk.
How to Assemble Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
Now that your cupcakes are cooled, cut them in half horizontally and pipe some peppermint frosting onto the bottom half. Replace the top half and push down to spread frosting to edges. I used a pastry bag, but you could just spoon the icing on it you want.
Place crushed candy cane pieces on a sheet of waxed paper and roll the sides of the cupcakes into the candies to coat frosting. Or just sprinkle crushed candy canes around the frosting.
Pipe or spread remaining frosting on top of cupcake. Sprinkle with more crushed candy cane.
I don't think I'll ever be satisfied by a cupcake again unless it has frosting in the middle of it and on the top.
Not only does this make the cupcake extra delicious, but it adds such a fun and unique look... Don't these chocolate peppermint cupcakes look extra fancy for the holiday season??
Of course, if you are short on time or want a more "traditional" looking cupcake, you can skip the "frosting in the middle" step and simply add a lot more frosting on top of the cupcakes.
These chocolate peppermint cupcakes have become one of my favorite baked goods of the holiday season and I find that even people who say they don't like peppermint desserts tend to like them.
Especially that peppermint frosting. I really just want to make a huge vat of the frosting and take a bath in it. Or at least spread it on toast. Or waffles. Or candy bars. The possibilities are endless, really.
But ultimately, I really do think it pairs best with chocolate.
But then, doesn't everything seem to pair best with chocolate?
More Peppermint Desserts
Chocolate peppermint cupcakes are my #1 favorite peppermint dessert, but the holiday season is plenty long enough for all kinds of peppermint desserts. Here are some more of my favorites:
- Sparkling Peppermint Sugar Cookies
- Peppermint Pavlova with White Chocolate Whipped Cream
- Chocolate Peppermint Sour Cream Crinkle Cookies
- Hot Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bites
- Peppermint Marshmallow Ice Cream
- Eggnog Peppermint Sandwich Cookies
- Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
- Peppermint White Russians (from The Forked Spoon)
- Candy Cane Macarons (from Baked by Clo)
Do you like the chocolate and peppermint flavor combination?
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup boiling water
- Peppermint Frosting (recipe below)
- ⅓ cup crushed candy canes (about 4 candy canes)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 ½ Tbsp milk
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cavity cupcake tin with papers.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, add both sugars, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir together until well-combined.
- Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stirring until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
- Pour boiling water into bowl and fold until just combined (mixture will seem watery at first). Again, try not to over-mix the batter.
- Using a cookie scoop or spoon, fill each cupcake paper with batter about ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the tin for a few minutes before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, slice cupcakes in half horizontally. Pipe peppermint frosting onto the bottom half and replace the top half (you could also spoon frosting on if you don't want to pipe). Sprinkle crushed candy canes around the edges to stick to the frosting. Pipe a little frosting on the top of the cupcake and sprinkle some more crushed candy cane.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Add in confectioners' sugar one cup at a time and continue to mix until fully incorporated.
- Mix in peppermint extract and milk.
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These cupcakes are adorable! The cake looks so light and fluffy. Also, I did not realize it is 12 days till Christmas. Eek!
megan @ whatmegansmaking says
You've convinced me - I want to make that frosting!! I can't wait to try it 🙂 I also have been addicted to peppermint this year. I must have put at least 5 or 6 peppermint recipes on my blog in the last few weeks!
I love the peppermint-chocolate flavor combination, and I just posted mini mint-chocolate cheesecakes :). Your cupcakes are beautifully decorated!
sweeter salt says
YUM! I'm anti-shortening as well (yuck trans fats). I found an all-natural, non-hydrogenated shortening at Whole Foods which is great (Earth Balance brand, near the margerine). I used it for my christmas cookies that I made yesterday (post to come today).
I would cry if my hard work fell all over the place. But I cry for the littlest things sometimes.
They are beautifu!l
Im really feeling all the peppermint recipes. ! !
These are sooo adorable. The 'bicycle incident' is such a bummer. I probably (ok, definitely) would have cried!!
Yes, I DO have a serious aversion to shortening. I refuse to even buy it!
There is a chocolate cake recipe in the Taste of Home cookbook that I always use for my cupcakes and it is fantastic!
Also, I love to use my bag and frosting tip to fill the cupcakes with the frosting before topping them. Similar effect as cutting them in half, but without as much hassle and mess (also without the ability to sprinkle pretty peppermint candy on the outside edges...).
Those look gorgeous. I am not generally a peppermint fan but it's slowly growing on me. I love that you've given us not one, but two minty treats. And don't remind me of how close to xmas we are. :-O I still have so much left to do.
I'm totally averse to shortening too! I avoid it in all recipes. Butter is better by far 🙂 I also LOOOOVE peppermint anything, and appreciate how it's so in style this time of year! These cupcakes look great, especially the frosting!
bahhh! I hate when food drops on floor or gets messed up. If it makes you feel any better- my Thanksgiving side dish fell on my mom's driveway this year! These cupcakes look gorgeous. I love shoving some of the frosting in the middle
Fun and Fearless in Beantown says
These look so pretty! When Bret and I went to go buy our Christmas tree, it was tied carefully by the nursery on top of our Zipcar. We were driving home slowly when a car swerved into the road without looking. Bret honked and braked just in time to prevent an accident but our tree almost seriously went through the hood of the car. It was crazy! I guess crazy drivers are out there this holiday season!
Corey @ the runner's cookie says
Oh my goodness, those might be the prettiest cupcakes I've ever seen!! SO sad that some ended up in your lap/on your boots...I might have cried if my cupcakes looked that good!
Liz @ Blog is the New Black says
I totally agree- peppermint=Christmas! 🙂 These look so amazing... I can't wait to make them!
In that case, I highly recommend the Flour chocolate cupcake recipe. Mary Kate has it on her blog... and I've linked to it. They are rich and moist and since they go so well with peanut butter frosting, I have a good feeling they would work with this peppermint frosting too. Sorry about the catastrophes. I usually clutch my baked goods in the car because I'm terrified they'll slide and all my hard work will be wasted. I feel your pain.
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite says
These look out of this world! What's better than a chocolate cupcake?
I haven't figured out the whole food in the car thing myself, although I'm unusually tempted by those cupcake boxes I see at Target now and then. Sorry about your boots - but all in the name of peppermint! These look fabulous and even though I can't bake, I could definitely make the effort for this frosting. I'm bookmarking this one!
I really wish I could bake better- these look amazingly adorable!! Maybe I'll try them but I don't think they'll come out as pretty as these did. These are way too cute!
These cupcakes are so pretty! I love how the frosting is sandwiched between the cupcake.
Sharon (umommy) says
I love it - and I love peppermint. These look incredible. Cupcake versions of my favorite holiday cookie - Trade Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes 🙂
Chicken on the Green says
Yum- love mint and chocolate! And they look so pretty- perfect for the holidays!
These came out beautifully!! That is my FAVORITE type of frosting as well...powdered sugar, butter, milk....all you need! Of all the cakes from all the bakeries, this simple frosting is the BEST!
Chocolate peppermint cupcakes were definitely on my mind today! How ironic that you posted this. I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to just make that frosting and eat the whole thing myself!
I love chocolate peppermint cupcakes! I also do not like shortening except I do use it combined with butter for pie crusts because I think that it works better than all butter. The worst is "buttercream" made with shortening. For one, it's not buttercream if there is no butter, and it just doesn't taste good.
Lauren at KeepItSweet says
i love the way you layered your cake and icing:-) my biggest issue with cupcakes is that it can be hard to get frosting in every bite. oh and just wondering, did you try to eat any of the cake off of your boots? i think i would have...
oh you have outdone yourself!!! WOWOWOWOW these look so good! i love peppermint and chocolat together and these cupcakes are perfect!! i love that you stuffed them too 🙂 the more the better!
those cupcakes are beautiful! i will definitely join you in 12 days of peppermint. or 12 days of some kind of mint + chocolate. 🙂 i am sorry about the bicycle + cupcake incident. i would have been tempted to sling some cupcakes at the dude. but i guess that wouldn't be in the holiday spirit, huh?! 🙂
[email protected] says
Beautiful cupcakes! The original cupcake story made me so sad though 🙁 I would have cried!
Sorry about your cupcake accident....but did you have fun licking the frosting off everything? 🙂 Cause it sure sounds great.
I'll use my own chocolate cupcake recipe on your advice. But I sure love the way your turned out!
Jen @ BeantownBaker.com says
These are so fun and festive. I love how your decorated them!
I'm in love with the line: peppermint frosting dreams.
Sorry the cupcakes gave you a hard time, literally in the kitchen and out! But that frosting makes up for it, even if it was in the car and your boots 😉
These are yuletide greetings! Yearning for this chocolatey-peppermint goodness right now.
you totally made me lol with the sugar balances out the butter comment 🙂 so sorry to hear about the ones that got lost in the car... at least it was only half of them! now i want some of that frosting!
pharmacy technician says
found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later
I have a question about these. do they need to be refridgerated? or can i keep them out of the fridge for the day. I am going to make them for my students next week and i want them to be great!
Lara- Hmmm. I think they'll be OK out of the fridge for the day. As long as the room isn't too, too hot. Hope you enjoy them!! 🙂
Susie!! So many great things posted here. I just haven't had the time to keep up and to comment. Sorry....will get better after the holidays! CT's mom....:)
Okay so I was also lured into this recipe by the frosting and was just too lazy to make cupcakes from scratch just to use the frosting. In the book this recipe is called Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.
Culinary Cory says
These look SO good and totally scream Christmas.
This frosting was UNBELIEVABLE! I made a chocolate cookie cake with this frosting as filling... my family now demands Diabetes Cake (their title, not mine) at every function.
Rose Gold says
I love the peppermint-chocolate flavor. I can’t wait to try these for our family picnic. I hope they will like this.
I'm going to give your frosting and double deck cupcake a try with my favorite chocolate cake or cupcake recipte. Its Ina Garten Beatty's chocolate cake on Food Network. The only change I make is substituting 1 cup hot water plus 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder/espresso powder for the hot coffee since I don't drink coffee and never have it on hand. It is so moist and freezes well when I need to make ahead of time.