Packed with deep chocolate flavor and topped peppermint swiss meringue buttercream, dark chocolate peppermint cupcakes are the Christmas dessert you didn’t know you needed!!Jump to Recipe
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Dark chocolate peppermint cupcakes might be my new favorite Christmas dessert. The classic chocolate peppermint combo is always a holiday win, but in cupcake form it’s easy to share them with neighbors, friends, or coworkers!
The cupcake itself is an old standby of mine I’ve been using for years. It actually made its first appearance on Teaspoon of Nose as mandrake cakes for a Harry Potter Halloween party, but it’s my go-to chocolate cake recipe.
The peppermint swiss meringue buttercream tastes like those buttermints you get after a meal – they’re rich without being overwhelming, and the butter offers a balance to the peppermint.
The two come together in a holiday bite that just begs to be enjoyed next to a Christmas tree!
I’ve recently converted to swiss meringue buttercream. Usually I share recipes with traditional American buttercream – butter, sugar, and flavor. Swiss meringue buttercream is a bit more involved because it uses egg whites, but the benefits far outweigh the extra steps!
Swiss meringue buttercream is great for frosting entire cakes, because after frosting you can refridgerate it to let the frosting set, and then it give the sharp lines and beauty of fondant frosting without having to eat fondant.
But since most of us are socially distancing/locked down this winter, I figured cupcakes are the better choice over a perfectly frosted cake.
Another thing I love about swiss meringue buttercream is that it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. In American buttercream, you have to add a certain amount of sugar to get the right texture, so you can’t change the sweetness of the frosting. With swiss meringue buttercream, the texture comes from the egg whites and butter, meaning sugar is only there for flavor.
What you should know to make Peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Because it’s a bit intimidating the first time you make it, I want to give a bit more instructions to walk you through making swiss meringue frosting.
First, the eggs. When you separate them, my advice is to use one small bowl that you break the egg white into. After each clean break (meaning no yolk in the bowl), dump the egg white into your bigger mixing bowl. Basically this prevents you having to start over if you get yolk into the big bowl on the ninth egg.
We heat the egg whites to bring them up to safe eating temperatures. I believe 140°F is the minimum safe temperature, but I typically go up to around 150° for good measure. Don’t go much over that though, because you don’t want them to start actually cooking through. Doing this over a double boiler gives you more control this way. It also allows the sugar to melt in, giving you that lovely smooth texture in the final frosting.
After beating the egg mixture, you know it’s done when you get soft peaks. Basically, it should look and feel like marshmallow fluff at this point.
When you’ve added the butter and letting it go to town, it will at some point look like it’s curdled. It looks weird, as if you messed it up somehow. This is normal. Don’t panic! Keep going. It’ll come back together as the lovely swiss meringue buttercream you’re hoping for.
Keep in mind that peppermint extract flavor tends to grow with time, so I wouldn’t make a massive batch of this and freeze it for next time.
With that in mind, I think you’re ready!
Classic Chocolate Cake
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cups cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk whole
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tin with liners.
- In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder and flour. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- Add milk, vanilla, eggs, and oil. Mix until just combined.
- Add boiling water slowly, mixing on low as you add.
- Ladle the batter into the tin. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
8-inch cake variation (makes two)
- Grease and flour two 8-inch cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before removing from the tins.
Peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 10 egg whites
- 1 lb granulated sugar
- 1 ½ lbs butter unsalted (680 g)
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tsp peppermint extract
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Put the mixing bowl over a double boiler. Whisk the mixture until the temperature reaches 150°F. By that point, the sugar has dissolved completely.
- Transfer the egg mixer into a stand mixer with a whip attachment. Beat on high for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. The bowl shouldn't be hot to the touch.
- Add the butter in cubes and continue to beat on high. Add the butter one piece at a time, but you don't need to let it fully incorporate before adding the next one. It will look like it curdles at some point, but it will come back together!
- Beat for about 5 minutes, until the texture is light and fluffy. Switch to the paddle attachment and add salt, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Beat for another 30 seconds to combine.
That’s it for a perfect little Christmas bite!
Want more holiday desserts? I’ve got you covered!