Peppermint Bark Cupcakes

Peppermint...

...it’s just one of those things that tastes like Christmas to me! I know it’s really not a flavor reserved specifically for Christmas alone, but between the candy canes, the peppermint bark, peppermint hot chocolate, and our yearly ritual of baking peppermint-flavored German mini shortbread cookies… SO many of my Christmas memories have peppermint in them somewhere!

So…in typical baker fashion…if you can do something, OVERdo it just a touch, right?

These cupcakes have a chocolate base, a mint-and-chocolate-ganache filling, are topped with a large swirl of lightly-flavored mint frosting, and are topped with a generous piece of peppermint bark! You can toss on some more crushed candy cane for good measure and a touch more color. Recipe below!

Cupcakes:

I doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work! 
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy grams to cups converter. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 24)

Ingredients:

350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 1/4 c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml milk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back)
2 t vanilla extract

 

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, plain flour, salt, bicarb soda and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until no lumps of butter are visible and it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.

Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process otherwise you can use two tablespoons). You may find that you have some batter left over - don't over-fill the cupcake tins or they *will* overflow – trust me. :/ (I often bake some mini cupcakes with the leftover batter).

Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely. 

This is an excellent time to make your frosting and/or your peppermint bark if you’d like!

 

Peppermint Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T peppermint extract
1/4 t. salt
Save and add later – additional 1 t of peppermint extract and ¼ c chocolate ganache or warmed hot fudge ice cream topping

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add peppermint extract and salt and beat until well combined.

Save out about ¾ c of frosting to use for cupcake filling, and stir in an additional 1 t of peppermint extract. Set aside until you’re ready to fill your cupcakes.

 

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- Plastic knife or cupcake corer
- Large piping bag & star-shaped piping tip
- 5-6 pieces of peppermint bark – you can purchase this or make your own!
- about ¼ extra crushed candy cane or peppermint candy

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you're ready to core them. There are a few ways you can do this....you can buy a cupcake corer, you can try using the non-business-end of a large piping tip,   or....you can do what I do and cut a cone-shaped core out with a plastic knife. Up to you. I haven't the foggiest idea why cupcake crumbs don't stick to plastic knives like they do regular knives, but the plastic knife's been working too well for me to feel the need to invest in any fancy corers.

Drizzle some chocolate ganache or hot fudge topping into a piping bag, add your filling, and pipe it into your cupcake centers! Sprinkle with a bit of extra crushed candy cane for a bit of extra peppermint kick.

Pipe your mint frosting in large swirls onto your cupcakes (or however you feel like icing them).  Decorate the top of each frosting swirl with a piece of peppermint bark and a few sprinkles if crushed candy cane if you’re feeling fancy! (Of note, crushed peppermint candy will get weird-looking and ‘melty’ if left on cupcake frosting overnight – add this the day you plan to serve them!)

Done and done! Enjoy! 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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