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 a red and white plate

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.

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.

peppermint mocha cupcake with a chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes

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 a red and white plate

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 over-develop the gluten in your batter. Apparently I was quite angry with my first cupcake batter and mixed with force. As a result, the right cupcake is what we have! (By the way, that mushroom top was crispy.)

2 chocolate cupcakes with one perfect cupcake and one flat cupcake

Or we can have the soft, beautifully crinkled cupcakes on the left. Bringing ingredients to room temperature does take extra time. 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.

peppermint mocha cupcake with a chocolate drizzle and crushed candy canes

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!

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peppermint mocha cupcakes on a red and white plate

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Bakig
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon instant coffee*
  • 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 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 pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*

Peppermint Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • salt, to taste
  • optional for garnish: 4 ounces melted semi-sweet baking chocolate and crushed candy canes

Instructions

  1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count 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. Make the frosting: beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, heavy 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 confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (I add about 1/8 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.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and frost the day of serving. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
  2. Coffee: Use dry instant coffee, not coffee grounds.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cupcakes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  4. Cream: Using milk or half-and-half instead of heavy cream for the frosting is OK. However, your frosting won’t be as creamy. I strongly recommend heavy cream for the best texture.
  5. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: peppermint mocha cupcakes

See more cupcake recipes.

66 Comments

  1. SherryinChicago says:

    Could you make the frosting ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate it? We travel for Christmas but would love to bring these cupcakes, so trying to figure out if I should just make including frosting at home on the 22nd or if I could bring the cupcakes and frosting and frost on the 24th when we would eat them. What would you recommend?

    1. You can absolutely make the frosting ahead of time! Cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. Adding a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the thawed frosting out again, if needed.

  2. Hi Sally! I was wondering if you can double the batch? I need 24 cupcakes for a work party. Or should I just make the batter twice? Love your recipes!

    1. Hi Jamie, You can double this one!

  3. I made these, but doubled the recipe and topped with Sally’s favourite chocolate buttercream, but added 1/2 tsp peppermint essence to the frosting. Everyone loved them, so they’re definitely being added to the usual roster!

  4. I loved this recipe! The balance between the dark chocolate/coffee flavor with the peppermint frosting was beautiful. I’ll add this recipe to my baking successes. Thank you!

  5. I didn’t know heaven could be a flavor, but THESE cupcakes are something else!!! They were the perfect texture, had just the right structure (didn’t fall apart), and OMG I could keep raving!! Everything is DIVINE!!! Including the frosting, never tasted frosting SO good! Thanks Sally!! 🙂

  6. Can I substitute espresso powder for the instant coffee?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Robin, You sure can! It’s stronger so you won’t need as much. Happy baking!

  7. Hi Sally, how would this pair with your white chocolate peppermint frosting instead? I’m not a huge fan of the over sweet buttery flavor of American Buttercream.

    1. They would pair perfectly!

  8. Jennifer Gierkey says:

    how can i make this into an 8″ cake? have someone wanting a peppermint patty themed cake maybe adjust regular chocolate cake with peppermint extract?
    i’ve used the cupcake recipes to make 6″ cakes before. thank you for your feedback

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, you can use our cake pan sizes and conversions guide to help scale this recipe for an 8 inch cake — hope it’s a hit!

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