Suddenly it’s mid-December and the holiday season is upon us. How in the world did it arrive so quickly this year?
I figured I should post a cupcake recipe since I haven’t posted one in ages. I forgot how much I love to make them, to be honest with you. I find that sometimes the process of baking is an extremely cathartic one, and I know a lot of you do, too. No matter what is going on in the world, I can go into my kitchen and immerse myself in one of the things I love most.
So, during the baking and prepping of the cupcakes, CNN was playing in the background, and I was focusing on being grateful for my two little nephews, Elliott and Oliver. For the fact that in a few days I will be able to hug them and tell them how I love them oh-so-much. I thought about a lot of things, really. I focused on sending love to Connecticut. I focused on being thankful for so many people who had so quickly formed a solid support network for so many others. I focused on sending love to my friends with young children and being thankful for their safety.
I can’t say enough how much I have been touched by our fellow Americans in such a sad time. I know that I’m a piddly little food blog, but I have been amazed by the outpouring of love and encouragement for those who are hurting the most.
So I put a little extra something into these cupcakes. A little hope. A little encouragement. And a lot of love.
Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Servings: 30 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 and 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
For the peppermint cream cheese filling:
40 small candy canes, unwrapped and broken into small pieces (*the original recipe called for soft peppermint candies, like old-fashioned peppermint sticks. I couldn’t find these in the store, so I improvised.)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons heavy cream
For the peppermint cream cheese buttercream:
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 ounces (2 bricks) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 cups powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract, to taste
Additional candy cane pieces, for garnish
1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
3. Whisk together the cocoa and hot water until smooth.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
5. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine.
6. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl.
7. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
8. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
9. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.
10. Reduce mixer speed to low.
11. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
12. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.
13. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
14. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
15. For the peppermint cream cheese filling: In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the candy cane pieces until the mixture is powdery (this will be very loud.) and the pieces are about the size of coarse sea salt.
16. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered candy canes and 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
17. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the heavy cream on medium speed until combined.
18. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture; beat until smooth.
19. Add the candy cane mixture to the mixer bowl, beating on low speed until smooth. Set aside.
20. For the peppermint cream cheese buttercream frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
21. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until smooth.
22. Add the vanilla, mixing well.
23. Add the peppermint extract, adjusting to taste.