Peppermint Mocha CupcakesIt seems that every year the Christmas music starts playing earlier and the decorations are put up sooner.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I think Thanksgiving deserves its own glory too.  I always wait until well after my turkey coma has worn off before moving onto Christmas.  Now that we’re almost a week into December, it’s time to think about getting my tree and decking the halls with Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song in the background!

…But in the spirit of doing Christmas-y things super early, today I share with you a recipe that would be a welcome addition to any holiday dessert table.  I created these Starbucks-inspired cupcakes last year for a friend’s party.  Since his birthday is around Christmas and he’s a huge fan of anything coffee flavored, I thought peppermint and mocha would be the perfect combination!  I can’t wait to celebrate the season with him and his wife again in a few weeks, on our first trip back up to Boston since we moved!

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes
Yield:  12 cupcakes
Time:  25 minutes hands-on;  20 minutes baking;  45 minutes total

Cupcakes:
1 and 1/3 cup cake flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong coffee
1½ tsp. ground instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar

Frosting:
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup whole milk
¾ tsp. peppermint extract
6 candy canes, crushed (I use the food processor, but a mallet or rolling pin would work fine too!)
1.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2.  Cream together the butter and both sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing well to blend.

3.  In a separate bowl, dissolve the espresso powder into the coffee.  Add the milk.  Gently stir into the butter/sugar mixture.

4.  In separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in several additions, whisking to combine.

5.  Fill 12 cupcake wells, each approximately ¾ full.  Bake at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes, until the tops spring back when gently pressed on, or a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.

6.  Pour the crushed candy canes into a shallow bowl and set aside.  To make frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add in confectioner’s sugar, milk, and peppermint extract.  Beat until well mixed, and the frosting is fluffy.  Frost a cupcake, then turn the cupcake upside down and gently press it into the crushed candy canes.  Repeat with all cupcakes.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

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