The flavor of peppermint and the holiday season seem to go hand-in-hand. Candy canes are of course the perennial favorite for a minty yuletide, their red and white striped silhouettes bedecking everything from shop counters to Christmas trees. The classic candies also make excellent additions to other holiday treats. Marcella DiLonardo of Modest Marce used them as the garnish and inspiration for these decadent chocolate peppermint cupcakes, a dessert that looks (and tastes) just like Christmas. Enjoy!
Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes
For the chocolate mint cupcakes
2 cups raw sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoon peppermint extract (depends how strong you want the peppermint flavor)
¾ cup dutch dark cocoa powder
1 cup whole buttermilk or regular whole milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
For the buttercream frosting
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups icing sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)
Red food gel (I used wilton’s ‘christmas red’)
½ cup crushed candy canes
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, add sugar, oil, vanilla, and peppermint. Stir until combined. Beat in eggs and milk. Sift in cocoa powder, flour, salt, & baking soda until just combined. Slowly pour in boiling water and mix until a silky smooth batter is formed. It will look thinner than other cake batters—that is okay! Evenly distribute batter in a lined cupcake pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cakes bounce back to touch. Let cool while you make the frosting.
For the frosting: Add butter, sugar, vanilla, and peppermint into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high for 8-10 minutes. Once the frosting looks light & fluffy, divide into two equal parts. Keep one white and add red food coloring to the second half. Add the appropriate amount of food coloring until you reach the desired color. Add the white frosting to the piping bag, followed by the red. Pipe as desired. Top with crushed candy canes as the sprinkles.