Don’t just leave a peppermint stick for ol’ St. Nick this holiday season, leave him a cupcake filled with peppermints from top to bottom! These Candy Cane Fantasy Cupcakes are a show-stopping homemade gift or a guaranteed hit at holiday bake sales.

Candy Cane Cupcake

People love it when those pumpkin spice lattes start showing up, lining up outside Starbucks like they’re selling Star Wars tickets. My favorite holiday barista’s treat won’t show up until a few weeks later, though: the peppermint mocha (white chocolate if I’m feeling naughty). When I reach across the counter to grab my warm, festive cup, I get lost in the giant mountain of whipped cream, sprinkles of crushed peppermint dotting the white landscape, all with a minty, sweet treat underneath.

These Candy Cane Fantasy Cupcakes are what happens when a peppermint mocha-loving foodie gets a craving for cupcakes. You’ll have red and white swirls from top to bottom on these impressive holiday treats and an explosion of peppermint that knocks you over and right into the holiday spirit!

We’ll start with an extra rich cupcake batter, with added whipping cream and sour cream so they’re moist and tender and a slightly tangy quality from the sour cream. Then we’ll add the super-secret ingredient (though not so secret, I suppose, given the name of these cupcakes): crushed peppermint pieces. They’ll infuse the cupcakes with peppermint flavor, plus leave little sticky candy pieces in every bite.

We’ll also combine regular batter and some red so the whole thing looks like a giant piece of peppermint.

Of course, the “fantasy” isn’t really much of a fantasy without some epic frosting! It’s a classic buttercream, thinned with whipping cream instead of milk, and a generous amount of peppermint extract. Seriously, this is the stuff coffee shops should put on top of their hot beverages. We’ll swirl a red and white mountain of this stuff on top of the cooled cupcakes. Next step, doughnuts!

Yep, you read that right. Hostess Donettes, little mini cake doughnuts dipped in chocolate, are going on top of these already decadent cupcakes (you can use the double chocolate version of Donettes too for some extra chocolate). To carry on the peppermint winter wonderland theme here, we’ll melt some white chocolate to drizzle onto the doughnuts so they look like they’ve been the victim of the season’s first snow.

Then, while the white chocolate’s still soft, we’ll sprinkle more peppermint pieces on top.

More decorations? Of course! Lest the snow-covered doughnut feel lonely sitting on top of our cupcake, we’ll add some mini candy canes and red and white striped straws. No, you can’t eat the straws, but they look particularly cheerful on top and you’ll have some perfect little peppermint cupcake nibbles waiting at the bottom of each one.

This is peppermint heaven.

Might I suggest pairing these with a hot peppermint mocha?

Candy Cane Cupcake

Recipe Notes:

Peppermint pieces – You can actually buy pre-crushed peppermints for this project. Otherwise, just put some candy canes in a zip-top bag, add another bag on the outside to keep the candy shards from flying around your kitchen, plop it onto a thick wooden chopping block, then go at it with a hammer or kitchen mallet.

Swirl the batter – You can alternate dropping spoonfuls of both colors of batter to get a nice mottled red and white look. If you want something a little more swirly, use a skewer or toothpick to swirl the batters together after you’ve put them in the liners. Just a few swirls will do the trick too; if you over-mix, you’ll have a lovely shade of pink cupcakes instead. If you don’t mind the extra work, you can also use a piping bag prepared just like the frosting bag with the red batter on one side and the plain on the other.

Flat cakes – Although it doesn’t impact the taste at all, we all want perfect little domes, not flat tops on our cupcakes. A few thing can help keep your cupcakes perky. First, don’t over-mix the batter. Too much gluten-building activity will impair the batter’s ability to climb to the top. Second, if you don’t do a ton of baking, you should check the age of your baking powder. If it’s more than 9 – 12 months old, it needs to be replaced. Otherwise it’s just not bringing the oomph factor you need for adequate rising. Lastly, don’t open the oven door over and over again. Impatience will lead to flat cupcakes since it decreases the oven temp each time you peek in to see if they’re done. Consistent temperature is key, and they’ll be ready to eat soon enough!

More Christmas Treats!

Pretzel Snowman -crispy, chocolaty Pretzel Snowmen come together with just a touch of frosting and a little imagination.
Red Velvet Cake Balls -Easy to make and infused with a decadent flavor!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites – Cute treats with a perfect combination of crunch, saltiness, and peanut butter!
North Pole Cupcakes -flavorful cupcake supports a giant, snowy drift of peppermint frosting with a cute little sign directing everyone to the place where all the magic happens!
Reindeer Sugar Cookies– Delightful little deer dressed to impress your holiday guest!