These charming, cheery North Pole Cupcakes are probably the first thing Santa eats to restore his energy after a long Christmas Eve. A fancy, 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!
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Santa’s home and general relaxation spot (at least on December 26th) is the inspiration for these peppermint-frosted, rich cinnamon cupcakes.
There are somewhere between 6 and 9 feet of ice that make up the solid “ground” at the North Pole, and that’s roughly the same amount of frosting on these glorious goodies!
You’ll get to warm up your crafting skills for the holidays with some simple but impressive candy decorations plus have professional quality cupcakes with covetable homemade flavor to show off at a holiday party.
The cake base for these North Pole Cupcakes is indulgent all on its own. The batter starts with sweet cream butter to ensure a tight, small crumb. I also use whipping cream instead of milk to up the fat content and keep these nice and moist, as well as sour cream to add even more richness and a little tang. That, as well as a touch of cinnamon, creates a nice, complex flavor profile. The density achieved with this combination means substantial bottoms for holding all the festive decorations on top!
. . . and what better to top these rich cupcakes than an equally rich, fluffy buttercream! You’ll notice I add whipping cream here too which makes the frosting smoother and creamier than milk. Using a piping bag helps with that “professional” look I mentioned earlier. The trick of putting both the red and white frosting together makes the mountain of frosting look like a beautiful peppermint swirl. Be sure to use a cup to hold the bag while you’re filling it since it’s much simpler than navigating the process with only one hand!
Next we’ll make some icing for the delicate design work on our signs. Royal icing is one of those things every consummate cookie maker needs to have down to a science since it’s a requirement for decorating those ornate sugar cookies we make for holidays and special occasions (it also dries well and makes a great glue which we’ll use it for in this recipe as well). There are different consistencies depending on the type of decoration you’re doing, and this one is a medium thickness, similar to soft-serve ice cream, so it’ll flow nicely into letters without spreading out.
Once you’ve prepped your candy cane poles with the little green tops, you’ll be ready for the signs. (FYI – sometimes I prop the poles up in a shallow cup or glass while they harden to keep the M&Ms from falling off). Don’t fear the fondant! If you’ve never worked with this stuff before, it’s really much easier than you think. It’s basically a dough made from sugar, water, and a little gelatin, and it’s used to create those super smooth tops for wedding cakes. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can overwork it to the point it starts to dry out before you’re ready for it to, so just make sure you knead it only until it’s pliable. You’ll decorate the signs with royal icing, glue them to the candy cane poles, then bury them in the giant cloud of frosting!
These North Pole Cupcakes have such a “wow” factor, and no one’s going to believe you didn’t order these from that trendy new bakery. Even kiddos will take their time dismantling these beauties because they’re almost too cute to eat!
General Cupcake Tips – 1) Have all your ingredients at room temperature to make sure everything cooks evenly. 2) Don’t overfill the liners; I actually like to use a large scoop to keep the amount of batter in each consistent too. 3) Once the cupcakes are done, don’t let them sit in the pan more than a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack or else you risk overbaking.
No Piping Bag, No Problem – I usually remember I don’t have any piping bags about the time I’m ready to fill them up. You can actually make your own bags using parchment paper or even use zip-top bags in a pinch. Just snip off a small piece of one of the bottom corners of the bag and insert your frosting tip. Pipe away!
North Pole Cupcakes
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Plus 1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Teaspoon Plus 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
- 1 Large Egg at Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter Softened
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 5 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- 3-5 Drops Red Food Coloring
- 1 Cup Crushed Peppermint Candy Canes
- 1 Piping Bag Fitted with a Large Star Tip
- 3 Egg Whites
- 2 Cups Powder Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cream Of Tartar
- 1 Piping Bag fitted with a #2 Tip
- 12 Cinnamon Candy Cane Sticks
- 12 Green M&Ms
- 1 Container Chocolate Fondant Sold at Craft Stores
- 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
Make the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with liners.
- Mix flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer beat sugar and butter until creamed. Add egg and mix until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix in. mix the heavy cream into the wet mixture
- Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream.
- Spoon batter into prepared pans 1/2 full. Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a toothpick. Cool completely on the wire rack.
Make the Frosting:
- In the bowl of a standard mixer, combine unsalted butter, powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream and peppermint extract and mix on medium speed, until well combined (will be stiff).
- Place the piping bag, fitted with large star tip, into an empty medium cup and fold the bag over the edges. (using as a stand to hold bag)
- Place half of the frosting in a separate bowl. Add food coloring and mix until evenly combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, scoop some red frosting onto one side of the piping bag, then add white frosting to the other side.
- Pipe frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes, then sprinkle the tops with the crushed candy cane pieces.
Make the Royal Icing:
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon Royal Icing into the piping bag fitted with #2 Tip.
- Pipe a small dollop of royal icing onto the top of the candy cane sticks and place a green M&M on top. Set aside to dry.
- Sprinkle some powdered sugar onto a cutting board and knead the fondant until soft and easy to work with.
- Roll out the fondant to ¼-inch thick.
- Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut 12 rectangles about 3” x 1 ½”.
- Using the royal icing, write “North Pole” onto the rectangles and pipe some snow around the edges. Let the signs dry for about 3 hours on the cutting board.
- Once the rectangles are dry, carefully flip them over and add a small dot of royal icing to glue these to the candy cane poles, holding for about 15 seconds to set. Repeat with remaining rectangles.
- Add the signs to your cupcakes, and enjoy!
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