I am totally head-over-heels in love with these little two-bite chocolate peppermint cupcakes covered in peppermint spiked cream cheese buttercream with a fun candy cane swirl. They are, in my mind, exactly what Christmas should taste like.
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Cream Cheese Buttercream
Let me tell you something about baking mini chocolate cupcakes that are super fudgy...
Not just any recipe will work. The problem is that the more fudgy the cake, the more it tends to stick to the wrapper.
If you're slicing a cake, or unwrapping a normal size cupcake, it's no big deal if the sides of your knife or cupcake wrapper come away coated in rich chocolate fudge. However, if you're unwrapping a tiny two-bite cupcake and half the cupcake comes away with the wrapper, it's a problem.
So... that's what happened to the first few batches of chocolate peppermint mini cupcakes. You had to basically just lick the cake off the wrapper. (Not that I did that... 🙄)
To solve the problem, I turned back to what worked for these mini Chai Latte Cupcakes.
I'm discovering that when making mini versions of baked treats, it's important to not beat too much air into the batter. If you do, the cupcakes rise too much and then fall. They are small and delicate, and just can't handle too much expansion in the oven.
It's much better to whisk the ingredients by hand instead of using an electric mixer. This technique also creates a more dense crumb - something I feel is fabulous in a mini treat. Not only does a denser crumb tend to stick together better when removing the wrapper, it tastes more decadent and satisfying.
How to Make a Peppermint Cream Cheese Buttercream Swirl
Creating a candy cane swirl to decorate these mini chocolate cupcakes is really simple. Fit a pastry bag with a fat round decorator tip. Then, create a two red stripes inside the bag, one on the right and one on the left, with red gel food coloring. The stripes of food coloring should start way down by the tip and extend up the bag about ⅔ of the way to the top.
The food coloring I used is packaged inside a tube. This made it easy to just squeeze lines of food coloring inside the bag. If you're working with gel food coloring that comes in tiny little tubs, just use a paintbrush or toothpick. To get those big, bold stripes, you want fairly thick lines of food coloring - close to the width of a thin piece of yarn.
After creating your red stripes, carefully fill the bag with peppermint cream cheese icing. Squeeze some frosting onto a plate until you see the red stripes appear and then swirl away!
If you like, fancy up your mini cupcakes even more with some silver sprinkles and crushed candy canes.
More holiday recipes
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 1 ½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (7 grams) cornstarch
- ¾ cup (63 grams) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt, OR 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) vegetable oil
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (107 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 cup (227 grams) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/ 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 12 ounces (340 grams) of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ½ cups (1021 grams) powdered (confectioners) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon table salt, OR ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of peppermint extract
Make the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Spray the surface of a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray and line each cavity with paper liners.
- Add the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, add the melted butter, vegetable oil, and both sugars. Stir with a wire whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk vigorously for about 20 seconds to incorporate.
- Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk and add to the sugar and egg mixture in two additions, alternating with three additions of the flour: flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, and flour.
- Fill muffin cups about ¾ full with batter. The batter should come nearly to the top of the paper liners. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out without any raw batter on it.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 1 minute, then dump them out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Make the Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on very low speed just until all the powdered sugar is moistened, then beat on high for 3-5 minutes, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Frost cupcakes with a swirl of peppermint cream cheese frosting (directions for adding the red stripe are above the recipe in the text of this post). If desired, decorate with silver sprinkles and crushed candy canes.
No buttermilk? No problem. DIY Buttermilk: How to make your own
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 2 mini cupcakes
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 178Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 130mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 0gSugar: 19gProtein: 2g