Homemade chocolate cupcakes topped with thick & creamy mint chocolate chip frosting.
Mint chocolate chip ice cream in frosting form.
Yes. It tastes like ICE CREAM. And frosting. At the same time. WHAT!
I don’t know about you, but I feel there comes a time when peanut butter and caramel need to step aside from all the chocolate. (Did I really just say that?) Mint and chocolate are meant to be. Like peas and carrots, ketchup and french fries, sprinkles and ice cream. Diamonds and ring fingers. 😉
A giant scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a waffle cone has and always will be one of my favorite summer desserts. And today, I played around with butter, sugar, peppermint extract, mini chocolate chips, heavy cream, and a drop of food coloring. And boy, is it tasty.
The bed for my mint chocolate frosting is a homemade chocolate cupcake. Prior to this chocolate cupcake recipe, I’ve made dozens of dense brownie cupcakes and semi-homemade chocolate cupcakes using cake mix. But I have yet to share a purely “from-scratch” chocolate cupcake before. Trying to find that perfect recipe to test out, retest, or even develop, etc is overwhelming! Butter or oil? Cocoa powder or melted chocolate? Brown sugar? White sugar? Whole milk? No milk? Ahh!
However, I found a recipe in my prized Joy of Cooking cookbook that was begging to be made. And the result is perfection. I am SO pleased with my choice!
Today’s cupcakes are SO moist, just like the texture you get from a cupcake made from a convenient box mix. It’s a very simple chocolate cupcake recipe. The intense chocolate flavor comes from a chocolate “sauce” made from unsweetened cocoa powder and boiling water. The rest of the ingredients are nothing special; just easy, familiar items you already have in your kitchen: creamed butter & sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, salt, vanilla, and not much else. I love that!
One thing I will note: be very careful not to burn the cupcakes. Overbaking them will give the cupcakes a dry texture. There is nothing I dislike more than a dry, crumbly baked good! Especially when I’m looking for a moist, soft, tender chocolate cupcake.
Have you ever biten into a dry, flavorless chocolate cupcake or cake before? Yuck. Steer clear of overbaking these! I took them out of the oven at 17 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the center of the cupcakes. If they come out *mostly* (or completely) clean, they are done. You don’t want too many crumbs on the toothpick and you don’t want black, burnt edges. Watch the cupcakes closely after 16 minutes and do not bake longer than 19 minutes.
Cupcake towers: I love them.
That mint chocolate chip frosting. Oh my heavens. It’s like winning the lottery… if the lottery prize was all frosting. Can I please play that lottery?
The frosting is based off of the vanilla buttercream recipe I used for my homemade funfetti cupcakes. However, I wanted the frosting to be thicker, sort of like my cookie dough frosting recipe. I reduced the heavy cream to thicken things up. I also added mini chocolate chips, peppermint extract, and 2 drops of green food coloring.
The best part? The frosting is so easy to make! Even easier than the cupcakes. When you begin to make the cupcakes, set out two extra sticks of butter. Like most buttercream frostings, you want the butter nice and soft to make a creamy frosting base. By the time the cupcakes are baked and cooled, the butter will be the perfect consistency.
I like to use a hand mixer when I make my frostings. I have much more control over the beating process and can really isolate each and every spot inside the mixing bowl – sometimes my stand mixer will miss the butter at the very bottom of the bowl and I, consequently, have to manually scrape the bottom up to have it mix thoroughly.
An electric hand mixer makes things much easier for me when I make frostings, so I prefer it over a stand mixer.
Unlike most, I mix the butter by itself on low speed for a good 20-60 seconds before adding anything else. It creates the perfect creamy base for the rest of the frosting ingredients. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar, then 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract, and 2 drops of green food coloring.
So here’s the thing: this frosting recipe is very forgiving.
The amounts of heavy cream and powdered sugar you use can be adjusted for what you prefer. After adding 3 cups of powdered sugar and 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream, if you find the frosting to not be thick enough, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add more heavy cream. Truly, it’s just based on what you prefer.
By adding more powdered sugar, keep in mind that the frosting will taste sweeter with each addition. You may not see this in a lot of frosting recipes, but I add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to cut all of the sweetness, while still keeping the frosting’s thick texture from all the powdered sugar.
Also forgiving about this frosting recipe:
You can add more or less peppermint extract or green food coloring. If 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract is not enough, add more (carefully…that stuff is potent!). Not green enough for you? Add more green food coloring. 2 drops gave the frosting the same mint green color you see in most mint chocolate chip ice creams.
This frosting gives a new meaning to “ice cream and cake,” right?! 😉
When you reach your prefered frosting consistency, color, and minty flavor – add mini chocolate chips. I used mini chocolate chips because it makes the frosting much easier to spread. You could also leave the frosting plain and sprinkle with chocolate chips on top, but I wanted to replicate the look of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Any sort of chip will make this frosting impossible to pipe, so I went with the “rustic” frosting look today and just used a knife.
So there ya go. Mint and chocolate are taking over my kitchen, which is perfect timing for the green month of March. The chocolate cupcakes are so soft and moist with lots of chocolate flavor. The frosting is fluffy, super thick, minty and so easy to adapt to fit your frosting needs. Plus, it looks like ice cream. Mint chocolate chip ice cream in frosting form. Can I just eat this stuff with a spoon please?
Ok I’m done. Make these NOW.
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Simply homemade chocolate cupcakes topped with thick & creamy mint chocolate chip frosting.
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 and 1/3 cups (166g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3–4 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream*
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more, see recipe instructions)
- 2 drops green food coloring
- salt, to taste
- 2/3 cup (120g) mini chocolate chips
- Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 14 muffin cups with liners.
- Over high heat, boil the water in a small saucepan. Pour the unsweetened cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl and mix with boiling water until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature by placing in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat only until *just* combined. In a steady stream, add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
- Fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 16-19 minutes, keeping an eye on them to avoid even the slightest burning (which will lend dry cupcakes). My cupcakes took 17 minutes and a toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool before frosting.
- Make the frosting: beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat for about 30-60 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar, cream, peppermint extract, and food coloring. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin (up to 4 cups) or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add salt if the frosting is too sweet. You may also add more food coloring if desired or more peppermint extract if it is not minty enough. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Makes 14 cupcakes. Cupcakes taste best the day of or 1 day after they are made. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Heavy Cream: Replacing the heavy cream in the frosting with milk or half-and-half will result in a less creamy consistency.
- Cake: You my make these cupcakes into a 9-inch cake, filling the pan halfway full, and then using any extra batter for cupcakes. I am unsure of the exact baking time for this cake – it will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
Keywords: mint chocolate cupcakes