Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

I’ve had this cupcake idea up my sleeve for months. And I was going to wait until after Thanksgiving to make them. After our belies are filled with turkey and when Christmas music is “allowed” to be played. (Mind you – I’ve been listening to holiday jingles for the past two weeks. No shame.)

But I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I wanted a deep, dark chocolate cupcake with peppermint candies, swirls of mocha and chocolate drizzles. How can one honestly resist? Just look at all of this chocolate! Peppermint mochas are a seasonal favorite, but the combination of chocolate, mint, and coffee is on my mind all year long. Surely you remember these minty mocha cookies from August, right?

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

However, there is just something about this delectable combination of flavors when the snow is falling, family is gathered, and presents are under the tree. Nothing compares to sipping on a warm peppermint mocha during Christmas time. Unless, of course, you’re eating peppermint mocha in the form of a cupcake. NOTHING compares to that.

What we have here is a homemade chocolate cupcake (Death by Chocolate Cupcakes), enhanced with a touch of instant coffee and peppermint extract. The cupcakes are intensely chocolate flavored. The peppermint extract hiding inside the cupcakes is faint and is a complimentary background flavor to the light taste of coffee and powerful taste of chocolate.

Piled on top of that super-moist cupcake is a mountain of peppermint vanilla frosting. Just my simple vanilla frosting recipe flavored with a drop of peppermint extract. I finish them off with a simple chocolate drizzle (just pure melted chocolate) and sprinkles of crushed candy canes. And my, my, my. Aren’t they just fabulous? Better than I had hoped!

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.

Let’s talk about how I messed up the first batch of these cupcakes. I was in a rush and I cheated. Something you should never do when you’re baking from scratch, especially chocolate cupcakes.

Baking science alert:

If you read my Death by Chocolate Cupcake recipe, you will notice that a lot of the ingredients must be at room temperature. Ingredients incorporate into batter much more easily if they’re at similar temperatures. Furthermore, using varied temperature ingredients (warm melted butter, cold buttermilk) may have a negative effect on the way your ingredients bond and trap air inside the baked good – this will, in turn, produce dense cookies, cakes, muffins, etc. When a recipe calls for a particular temperature of your ingredient, make sure you listen.

I also ask that you use a light hand when mixing the cupcake batter. Overmixing will develop the gluten in your batter. Apparently I was quite angry with my first cupcake batter and mixed with force. If you don’t listen to me about the about the temperature of your ingredients and you overmix the batter, the right cupcake is what you will get. (By the way, that mushroom top was crispy.)

How to make perfect cupcakes and mistakes to avoid.

If you do listen to me, this is what you will get. Soft, beautifully crinkled cupcakes. Bringing ingredients to room temperature does take extra time, but if you want a good chocolate cupcake from scratch, then you’ll have to follow the recipe’s instructions. Just try to plan ahead. I typically put out my buttermilk, eggs, and butter (for the frosting) one hour before I begin.

Let’s discuss the frosting. Because what’s a cupcake without frosting? It’s called a muffin. And this is not breakfast, it’s dessert. The frosting is my favorite vanilla frosting recipe. You’ll need butter, powdered (confectioners’) sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and a dash of salt. Beat it all until it’s fabulously creamy and smooth. To this creamy mixture, I add a touch of peppermint extract. Not too much – I don’t want the frosting to taste like mint. I want it to taste like buttery rich vanilla frosting with a hint of mint.

Mint is a very powerful flavor, so be a little cautious when adding it. A little goes a long way.

How to make Vanilla Peppermint Frosting |

Pile the frosting high on top of your mocha minty cupcakes. I use a Wilton 1M swirl to pipe my frosting. For the chocolate drizzle, I simply melted 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and drizzled it on top of each one. Finish the cupcakes off with a toss of crushed candy canes on top.

I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite part of today’s festive dessert. The fudgy mocha mint cupcakes? The peppermint scented vanilla frosting? The extra chocolate on top? The crunchy candy canes? Please don’t make me choose, I want need it all. It’s the perfect cupcake for those who have flavor A.D.D. 😉

This is the cupcake to wow all of your holiday guests this year. It’s the show-stopping cupcake to bring to holiday parties. The decadent cupcake to fuel your shopping, decorating, and gift wrapping. And it’s most certainly the perfect cupcake to share with your loves.  Kevin enjoyed every single bite. No crumb left behind. (and the guy doesn’t even like coffee!)

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle. Your favorite holiday beverage in cupcake form!



  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon instant coffee*
  • 1/2 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour* (careful not to overmeasure)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*

Peppermint Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups (360-480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • salt, to taste

Cupcake Decor

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • crushed candy canes


  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time. You may also melt the butter and chocolate over low heat on the stovetop. Stir until combined, then mix in the instant coffee. Set aside to slightly cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract together until smooth. Add the cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be very thick like pudding.
  4. Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. For the frosting: beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes (the longer you beat, the creamier the frosting). Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon).
  6. Decorate the cupcakes: Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Top with crushed candy canes right before serving.

Recipe Notes:

*Use instant coffee, not coffee grounds.

*Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour is OK. I find the cupcakes to be slightly softer using cake flour.

*Buttermilk is required for this recipe. If you do not have buttermilk, make your own by mixing 2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes until curdled.

*Using milk or half-and-half instead of heavy cream for the frosting is OK. However, your frosting won't be as creamy.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.



If you like today’s flavors, try these festive treats next!

Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow

Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow


Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream

Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream


Mocha Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Mocha Mint Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Candy Cane Chocolate Swirl Fudge

Candy Cane Chocolate Swirl Fudge



See more holiday recipes.

See more cupcake recipes.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes on Deep chocolate cupcakes flavored with peppermint and coffee, topped with peppermint vanilla frosting, candy canes, and a chocolate drizzle.


  1. Huge hit! These were the last thing I baked before going into labour 4 days ago. They were the best thing I ate in the hospital!

  2. Also, my peppermints looked all wet this morning. I kept them in the fridge overnight so I’m not sure why that happened. So others trying this may want to add them right before serving.

  3. These are yummy! The first time I made them I didn’t listen and over mixed them but the still tasted great! So even if you do over mix them like I did, you can still eat them. They might not look as nice but they still taste good.

  4. Sally! This calls for natural cocoa powder. We dont get those kinds here. Im using cadbury and as far as I know its Dutch Process. Any tips?


  5. Thank you for being honest in your post about messing up with room temperature ingredients. It is refreshing to see a blogger that doesn’t hide behind a curtain! Plus it was the answer I was looking for as to why my cupcakes for my daughter’s party turned out hideous. You are right about scratch baking being a science and I was racking my brain trying to figure out what happened and almost gave up on my recipe. Giving it another go today.

    • Thanks Lisa. I learn in the kitchen through trial and error and am not afraid to admit it! Hey, we’re all human right? I make mistakes too! Happy you learned from this. I appreciate your comment so much!

  6. If i were to emmit the peppermint extract would it make these…just mocha cupcakes? Could i replace it with more vanilla extract?


  7. Oooh these look amazing! 🙂

  8. Hi Sally! Thanks for a great recipe! Can’t wait to surprise my boss with some birthday cupcakes in her favorite flavor! If I want to bring these to work the NEXT day, any tips on how to prepare/store for serving 12 hours later?

    • Hi Jaquielyn! You may certainly make these cupcakes the night before. Frost, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight. Hope your boss enjoys!

  9. What can I substitute the coffee for? (I don’t drink coffee.)

  10. I was wondering what changes would be necessary if I wanted to make this as a cake versus cupcakes. I was thinking more as a sheet cake.

  11. We had enough batter to make almost 18 cupcakes. We over filled the first time.

  12. Can I use a different chocolate recipe without melting chocolate?

  13. These cupcakes were amazing. Especially the mint taste. I didn’t do the icing and it was still good.

  14. hi could you make this with out the peppermint extract so you just have a chocolate cupcake I no you have other recipes but I loved this so much with the peppermint in but was hoping I could use it again but with just the vanilla extract in. Thank you

  15. Hi Sally! I’m planning to make these cupcakes this weekend for a friend’s birthday who loves peppermint. I wanted to know if it’s okay to make the cupcake batter on Thursday and leave it in the fridge until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, I would bake them. Is that too much time to leave cupcake batter in the fridge? Will it affect the cupcakes moisture, texture etc? Thank You!

    • The batter must be baked right away as the baking powder is activated once liquid is added. You can always bake them on Friday and cover tightly and keep at room temperature until Saturday.

      • Thanks Sally for responding so quickly! Another question I have is could I make the frosting ahead of time and store in the fridge overnight? Or would it get hard? Thank you!

  16. Hi, thank you very much for sharing this recipe. I just wanted to ask if the Dr Oetker fine dark chocolate powder is fine to use. thank you

  17. hi sally,
    i really would like to know if i can leave out the peppermint totally so i will be left with mocha cupcakes. would this work?
    thanks 🙂

  18. My 11 year old daughter made these this evening and she did an awesome job on them! They are incredibly delishious! They melt in your mouth 🙂

  19. Hi Sally!

    My name is Joanna and my sorority, alpha Kappa Delta Phi really loves this recipe. My sorority is having a bake sale using your recipe and we were wondering if we could use your photos to help promote our event!

    It would really mean a lot for us! We will leave your watermark on the photos!

    Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much!!


  20. Can these be stored at room temperature? Hope so…!

    • For a few hours or even overnight. After that, they are best stored in the refrigerator.

      • Thanks Sally! I made these today, they’re delicious. I was wondering if you could answer this question, too. When weighing your dry ingredients, do you first weigh the measuring cup empty, and subtract that from the weight W/ the ingredient? My cupcakes came out with a muffin top because I believe I messed up with the flour.

      • Glad you love them! My food scale zeros out the weight of the measuring cup.

  21. Sally, I just adore you! I’ve been following your blog religiously for over a year now and you have taught me so much about baking. I now feel like my friends come to ME for baking tips! Every recipe of yours I’ve tried has turned out great and I trust you over any other option out there. Your recipes are so reliable and you’re my go-to no matter what I am looking to bake. I am such a fan girl.  (Just had to say that!)
    Sooo I just baked these cupcakes. I always measure everything exactly, I let my eggs and buttermilk get to room temperature first, and a few of my cupcakes still have a flat mushroom top. I’m sure they’ll still taste great. But how can I get the crinkles? Could it just be that I overfilled the cups with batter? I feel like I did everything right so any advice you may have would be much appreciated! 
    Thank you, Sally!

    • Stephanie, thank you so much for the incredibly kind comment! I loved reading it this morning. Overfilling could definitely be the culprit. Try to use less batter and see how the cupcakes look. I promise they’ll be better.

  22. First of all I just have to say that I love your recipes!!! I’m so glad we found your website!  Now it’s ALWAYS the first place I look for recipes and I hardly ever end up going anywhere else. XD I also have your cookbook Sally’s Baking Addiction and use it like every week! So anyway, about these cupcakes…I made them today, and I haven’t had one all put together yet but obviously I’ve tasted the batter and the frosting. LOL. So I KNOW they’re going to be good!!!! It all tasted really good just by itself! And you know what adds to it? I accidentally added double the amount of chocolate in the cupcakes. And didn’t notice it till I was almost done decorating them. Haha…that’s what I call a “happy accident.” 😉 Anyway, this comment is getting super long so I’d better end it soon! I just wanted to say that I made these cupcakes today and I love your recipes. 🙂 

  23. Hi Sally, these look fantastic!  Could the instant coffee be substituted for coffee extract?

  24. Hi Sally,
    I love the taste of peppermint combined with chocolate. But here in my country, peppermint extract is hard to find. Can i use peppermint essence as per my taste ? Thanks in advance.

  25. This might be a stupid question, I didn’t see anyone else ask…do I make the instant coffee and use that or I’m using the instant coffee grounds? 

  26. Hi Sally, I love all of your recipes! I have a holiday party every year and I think these will make an appearance this year. How long should I bake if I make them mini cupcakes? Thanks!

  27. always come to your site for new ideas. all the recipes i’ve tried of yours are simply AMAZING! can’t wait to try this one 🙂

  28. Hi Sally, I love your blog! I know I can always trust your recipes to come out perfectly and I love that you include the science behind the baking in your posts. 🙂 I’d like to make something special for an upcoming holiday party and was thinking about doing a boozy cupcake. I would LOVE to try this recipe for Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes with maybe some peppermint schnapps or crème de cacao….do you have any suggestions on how or what would be best to add?

    • Hi Jen! Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂 What a great idea for cupcakes! I wonder if you made these cupcakes but used the delicious sounding filling and frosting from this recipe? I just found it online through a google search. Sounds great!

  29. How would the recipe differ if I made a 9 in circle layer cake instead of the cupcakes? 

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