Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes (makes about 30)
for the cupcakes:
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F and line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is consistent and pale yellow. Mix in the vanilla and peppermint extracts. Working in 2 batches, blend in the dry ingredients and cocoa mixture alternatively. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 of the way full and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until cupcake is set.
for the frosting:
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs of sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter, room temperature
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
red gel (no taste) food coloring
crushed candy cane pieces
Whisk together egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a small pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves. You know it’s ready with the you cannot feel the sugar when you rub a small amount of mixture between your fingers.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. The bowl should be cool to the touch before you move on.
Switch over to the paddle attachment and set the mixer to medium speed. Add the butter 2 Tbs at a time, letting it incorporate before adding another piece. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until the frosting comes together. This will take a while, so don’t worry if it looks soupy or curdled at any point. I find that it helps (if it’s not cooperating) to briefly chill in the fridge for a few minutes and then remixing. Mix in the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
Place half of the buttercream into a small bowl. Set aside. Using the remaining half of frosting in the stand mixer bowl, mix in red food coloring. Place your piping bag, fit with a large star tip into a tall glass. Cut a piece of card stock in the shape of the glass to divide the bag into two sections. Place the white buttercream in one side and the red buttercream in the other. Pipe a few test swirls until the frosting comes out both red and white. Pipe cupckaes as desired. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle cupcakes with crushed candy cane pieces.