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.
How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes
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.
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.
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.
More Peppermint Desserts
Chocolate peppermint cupcakes are my #1 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.