I have to admit this up front – this recipe made just over 2 dozen cupcakes, and I found myself with quite a few leftover. Which saddened me, because I thought these cupcakes were A-MAZING! Too bad for everyone else – you missed out. I ended up eating all the leftovers. I now have the gut to prove it.
This recipe is adapted from something I found in Kraft Food and Family – a good place for inspiration, but I don’t recommend making their recipes verbatim. Check with Feaston first!
To start, gather the following ingredients:
- 4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 2 candy canes, crushed
- 1 package of dark chocolate or devil’s food cake mix (the super moist kind with pudding in the mix)
- 4 eggs (healthy!)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup water
Start, of course, by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
Finely chop the baking chocolate and crush the candy canes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water on a low speed until moistened. If you can’t find cake mix that has pudding in it, just add one package of instant chocolate pudding (the 3.9 ounce size). It’s the key to consistently moist cakes and cupcakes. Any kind of chocolate here will do – I prefer the less-sweet taste of the dark chocolate.
Now, once the initial ingredients are moistened, crank the mixer speed up to medium and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Next, stir in the chopped chocolate and crushed candy cane pieces.
Once everything is all nice and combined, spoon the mixture into paper- or foil-lined muffin tins. A note of warning here – don’t fill the cups beyond 2/3 of the way. All cupcakes expand, but the addition of sour cream here really puffs these up. You don’t want a mess on your hands.
Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. That means more than 15 minutes – more like 1 to 2 hours.
In the meantime, you can start on the icing and garnishes. You need:
- 1 can of vanilla frosting
- 3/8 tsp. peppermint extract (really 1/4 teaspoon plus a little more)
- 1 square of semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 2 candy canes, finely crushed (nearly pulverized)
This is not rocket science. Combine the frosting and peppermint extract and stir about 20 times. This allows air into the frosting, which ultimately makes it easier to spread on the cupcakes. Also, the addition of peppermint extract makes the icing almost tacky, like a very pliable taffy. It makes the whole decorating process easier.
I have no real words of wisdom about icing cupcakes or cakes for that matter. After a quick Google search, I found more than I even wanted to know here. Read and obsess at your own risk.
I basically slap some icing in the center and try to spread it out evenly toward the edge with a butter knife. That’s the whole secret.
Once that’s done, melt the chocolate in the microwave – I threw it in a sandwich bag and heated on high for about 30 seconds. Then, just cut a small hole in the edge of the bag (cut in towards the center of the bag, not across the corner) and squiggle away on top of the cakes. Ta-da!
For the final touch, arrange larger candy cane pieces on the cupcakes and sprinkle smaller pieces around as well. Festive!
I recommend serving with milk. There’s nothing quite like the combination of dark chocolate and peppermint for the holidays.
Read the recipe here.