Rich, chocolatey, pepperminty cupcakes are topped with a marshmallow frosting, then finished with crushed candy canes and chocolate syrup. These are incredibly easy to make (boxed cake mix anyone?), and are even easier to make super cute and festive for the holidays.
There’s something about the holidays and the cold weather that really makes me want hot chocolate. I can’t count how many times a day I say “I really want some hot cocoa right now.” Just the thought of holding a warm cup in your hands that’s full of this wonderfully chocolatey, thick and comforting drink is so appealing. Add peppermint to the mix, and call it Christmas. I’ll be honest and say that peppermint hot chocolate is not my favorite, and I usually prefer regular hot cocoa to its peppermint-flavored cousin. However, to get into the holiday spirit, I thought I’d give peppermint hot chocolate cupcakes a try. I’ve gotta say, I was not disappointed.
PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Guys, this cupcake is a no-brainer, but tastes like you slaved away in the kitchen for hours. I’ve talked highly about store bought cake mix before, and there’s good reason for that. Making cakes and cupcakes from scratch is great, and definitely worth it if you want to invest the time and energy. But if we’re being honest, the holidays can bring a sense of stress, so it’s ok to look for possible shortcuts. This recipe takes advantage of cake mix, but adds a few extra things to make it extra delicious! The combination of ingredients makes the cupcake super moist and fluffy but with that perfect crinkle top. So what makes these hot chocolate cupcakes instead of just regular old chocolate cupcakes? Not much – I just added milk instead of the water that’s called for…that counts right? Hot cocoa is just milk, sugar and cocoa anyways. Then I added a little bit of peppermint extract for the festive flare. I never measure vanilla extract when I use it for recipes (because when is too much vanilla extract ever a bad thing?), but I’d caution you to carefully measure the peppermint extract. It’s very strong and pungent, and we don’t want cupcakes that taste like toothpaste.
A big mug of hot cocoa isn’t complete until you have a marshmallows floating around in there getting all melty. Really, if you think about it, marshmallows are such an unnecessary source of sugar that you’re adding to an already exceptionally sweet drink, but I just can’t help myself. That’s why marshmallow frosting was an absolute must for this cupcake. Yes, you can make legit marshmallow frosting with the whole egg white business, but again, holidays call for shortcuts, so marshmallow fluff will do. The reason I added cream cheese to this frosting is to balance all of that sugar from the marshmallow and powdered sugar. The end product has a slight stickiness from the marshmallow, a nod to a cheesecake frosting from the cream cheese, and a hint of peppermint just to reinforce the flavors of the cupcake.
DECORATE YOUR CUPCAKES
Cupcakes are all about the decorations. Pick a nice, festive cupcake wrapper if you can (plain white ones will work too, because the toppings are so fun). Frost your cupcakes using whatever method you desire. You can dollop some on there and spread it around with a knife, or you can use a piping bag (or ziplock bag). Choose whatever tip you want, or you can omit the tip if you’re like me and don’t own one. Then drizzle chocolate sauce on them and sprinkle some crushed candy canes over the top. The last finishing touch is putting a little paper straw in each cupcake because it’s a drink! I know you don’t usually drink hot cocoa out of a straw, but it’s just so darn cute! They sell those paper straws all over the place now – I usually get mine from the craft store or Target (dollar section!!). I cut each straw into quarters and stuck them in the cupcake.
I hope you’re as excited as I am about the upcoming holiday season. If you’re not, bake yourself a batch of these cupcakes, blast some Christmas music, and then tell me how you’re feeling. Happy happy holidays! Hugs & kisses and all my best wishes!
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix (5.9oz)
- 3 eggs
- 1-1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 block cream cheese (8oz), softened
- 1 jar marshmallow fluff (7oz)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 bag powdered sugar (2lb; 7-8 cups)
- 1/4 milk, or as needed
- Toppings: crushed candy canes, chocolate syrup, paper straw
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Make the cupcake batter. Mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, milk, oil and peppermint extract in a large bowl until combined. Fill lined cupcake tins 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and set aside to cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Beat softened butter and cream cheese using handheld or stand mixer for 3 minutes. Add marshmallow fluff, salt, peppermint extract and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add powdered sugar slowly while beating. Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, add milk 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached. This frosting will be sticky!
- Decorate your cupcakes. Frost you cupcakes using pastry bag, ziplock bag, or simply a butter knife. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with crushed candy canes if desired. Insert cut paper straws (I cut each straw into 4 pieces) into cupcake.