I just love to share a sweet treat on Fridays, and I thought this seemed like the perfect thing for this week.  After all, I know this is the time of year when many Starbucks lovers go flocking to the coffee shops in search of this seasonal beverage favorite.  I must confess that I myself am not a fan of this drink, only because I do not like mint of any kind (except one flavor of gum and one type of toothpaste – picky, huh?)  But we all know I get more enjoyment out of baking for others than for myself, so I was more than happy to make these cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday.  She proclaims the peppermint mocha her favorite drink ever, so these were clearly the way to go.

The cupcake base is a simple mocha batter that bakes up nicely.  I added a bit of peppermint extract to the cake batter to achieve that minty flavor throughout.  Next time I will add some espresso powder to the cake batter, because I felt the mocha flavor was nearly lost, and I have added this to the version below.  The frosting is a lovely Swiss meringue peppermint buttercream.   I just can’t get over how beautiful and smooth Swiss meringue buttercream is.  I know it takes longer to make, but I think it is worth it!

And if you were actually wondering how these turned out – they were a major hit.  Personally I was not thrilled with them but they tasted alright considering they are full of a flavor I don’t like.  They were definitely very popular with all my non-mint-hating coworkers, so I will chalk them up as a success.  I added individual mints to garnish mine, but I think they would also look adorable with mini candy canes or coarsely chopped peppermint pieces on top.



For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 tsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

For the frosting:
6 large egg whites
1¾ plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tsp. peppermint extract
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 01

    To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir together.  Combine the milk, coffee and peppermint extract in a liquid measuring cup.

  • 02

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the eggs one at a time.   Alternately mix in the dry and liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.

  • 03

    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more.  Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and mix just until incorporated.

  • 05

    If you would like the red and white swirled frosting effect, remove about half of the frosting to a bowl.  With the remaining frosting in the mixing bowl, add red gel coloring and mix until you have achieved the desired shade.  Fit a pastry bag with a large tip.  Fill one side of the pastry bag with the white frosting, and then fill in the other side with the red frosting (this does not need to be exact – just enough so that both colors are included.)  Pipe a test streak until you see both colors coming out of the tip.  Frost cupcakes as desired, refilling the pastry bag in the same manner as needed.


  • Amy

    I am a mint hater as well and can definitely relate to your toothpaste and gum dilemma. It stinks! These cupcakes are super cute though. I know several people that would love them! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • HB

    LOVE my Starbucks Peppermint Mocha hot chocolate! Will have to try these for sure!

  • Soo festive! I am going to try making your sugar cookies this weekend–I will let you know how they go :-)

  • They’re beautiful. Love the swirled frosting technique!

  • Amanda Poninski

    Annie – I am not the biggest fan of mint either, but the frosting sounds great! Would it be as simple as just leaving the mint out, or is there another ingrediant that needs to be substituted for texture?

  • Hey Annie! I have been reading your blog for over a year but I don’t usually comment. I just had to comment on this one because I have never found someone who ALSO hates mint!?! I love to cook and most others to love to cook also have a pretty non-judgy palate. Mint is such a huge flavor in the culinary world I almost feel weird not liking it?!? Mint is just one of those things that everyone seems to like. I mean everyone has to brush their teeth and how hard is it to find a non-mint toothpaste?? Everyone is just expected to like it!

    Unfortunately I’ve hated mint since I was a kid and it’s just stuck. I only chew non-mint gums (I love Orbitz Sangria Fresca!), I use kid’s toothpaste that is non-mint flavored (people give me strange looks for that one!), and I give my after-dinner mints away when I am at a restaurant. . . even the one’s that are chocolate. I love chocolate but the mint just ruins them. :-(

    Fresh mint isn’t as bad as the extracts but it’s still not my favorite. But if someone uses fresh mint in a salad or on top of a dessert I can handle it. It’s so nice to see that there are other cooks out there who aren’t a fan and to know I’m not alone.

    Sorry to ramble on. These cupcakes look adorable but I won’t be trying them unless I have a request from a friend! But you always find a way to make everything you bake look delicious, even something I know I won’t like!

  • oh. my. goodness. i. have. to. make. these. but for this morning i am going to have to settle for a peppermint latte. ;)

  • Annie, you make the most wonderful things. I’ve been following you for a long time and have made tons of things on your blog. Of the other food blogs out there that I’ve perused, your style and taste seem to fit well with mine, so you’ve become my go-to girl for recipes. Thank you. I admire how much you do by both cooking and baking for your family as well as so many others, along with taking care of your little guy and being a doctor. Wow, you’re an inspiration! I also wanted to tell you congratulations that this blog was one of the top 20 refrenced on Pioneer Woman’s recent post requesting a link to readers’ favorite recipe. Out of nearly 20,000 entries-wow, that’s a lot! Great job and thanks again.

  • The presentation is stunning!

  • These sure are cupcake cuties! I wish I had a bottle of peppermint extract right now!

  • Lovely( and with all this red and white even a little rockabilly! I am still not a big fan of cupcakes but these look so delicious, I might have to change my mind and give them a try…

  • Those cupcakes look awesome! I would love for you to share them on Cupcake Tuesday next wk.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • oneordinaryday

    Perfection. I am a huge fan of peppermint mocha anything and these are delightful.

  • Annie

    Hi Amanda,
    Yes, you can most definitely make the frosting without the peppermint extract. In that way it will be just a classic Swiss meringue buttercream. I would up the amount of vanilla extract (or add another flavor) to compensate, but it is a lovely frosting no matter what flavor you use.

  • Jeannette M.

    yummmm! they look delish…and I love this type of frosting! it’s soooo good I could eat it right out of the bowl! :)

  • Sue

    If you leave out the peppermint in the frosting, wouldn’t you also want to leave out the peppermint in the batter? Would you need to compensate with anything there?

  • Annie

    Sue, the previous question was in regards to the frosting only so that is what I answered. But yes, you could certainly omit the peppermint in the batter if desired. I don’t think compensation would be necessary there since it’s a very small amount and the cake already has chocolate and coffee flavoring.

  • oh these are stunning! the colours are just jumping out at me. i love that you’ve got a swirl in the frosting. i must try that some day! it looks gorgeous. ;)

  • Hi Annie! I love following your blog and find myself making a number of your recipes. I just got myself caught up on The Pioneer Woman’s recipes from the past week, and I saw YOUR name on there! Her latest contest had readers provide their favorite online recipes – and then one of her readers, “Statistician Don,” made a list of the top 20. And you made the top 20!! Just thought that was exciting and figured I’d share with you. An extra cupcake for you today! (well, maybe not a mint one) :)

  • Michelle

    I think I am in love. I was looking for a peppermint cupcake for our holiday party tomorrow… and here it is!! I don’t understand how you can dislike peppermint and chocolate… this is the best combination in the world.

  • Those look so good and they’re so cute. I’m always jealous how beautiful your pictures are.

  • My mouth is W-A-T-E-R-I-N-G!!

  • Liz

    These look absolutely delicious! I cannot wait to try my hand at them :-)

  • Jenni

    I looove mint, but am picky about toothpaste (can’t do blue… I know, weird!) I do have a suggestion for anything mocha. Chocolate is enhanced by coffee, so the coffee flavour is often overwhelmed by the chocolate, I’ve had success with brushing the top of the cake with a coffee/espresso-flavoured simple syrup. Try it, even if just to give it a shot, it will give a definitive coffee flavour to the chocolate.
    I must say, I saw your photo and these cuppies are ADORABLE!!!! I would love to make them, though I’ve not yet attempted a meringue BC.
    Great job! Very festive, and very charitable of you to make something you don’t love to please another! Happy Holiday!

  • Thanks to this post, I love cup cakes

  • These are gorgeous! I love the Starbucks drink and encompassing those flavors into a cupcake is sheer brilliance!

  • These are adorable, Annie!

  • Joemokka

    Thanks for a different twist on a recipe that I make. I make a peppermint mocha cake similar to your cupcakes, but I use a chocolate fudge frosting instead and add crushed candy canes along with the peppermint extract to the frosting. The candy cane gives it a crunch and more pizazz; for the garnish, I use Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses. Next time, I will try your Butter Cream frosting on my cake and use the the Kisses as garnish. By the way; I love Coffee, Chocolate, and Peppermint; I’m addicted to the Starbucks Peppermint Mochas :-)

  • These are so picture perfect! I’m not a huge mint fan but I want to make them simply because they look so great :)

  • I’m a bit indifferent to mint, but these are too cute! I’m a recent convert to SMBC as well, though I still have a little stress every time I wait to see if comes together from a sloshy mess into a luscious, pipe-able frosting.

  • Angela

    LUCKY CO-WORKERS! I love mint, but even without the mint, these cupcakes look addicting, glad I saw your website on my usual favorite “pioneer woman cooks”!!

  • These cupcakes look amazing and perfect. Lovely picture! gloria

  • Amy

    Such great color!!

  • MP

    These look perfect 2 make for christmas!!..You are definetly the queen of cupcakes!

  • These are adorable! They look amazing, particularly for the holidays. Plus they contain peppermint, of which one of my recent posts was dedicated to. http://foodfitnessfreshair.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/peppermint/

    Great pictures!

  • I know what you mean about losing the mocha flavor. When I made Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes last December, everyone raved and raved over the amazing frosting. I think the Peppermint is just a stronger flavor than the mocha so it can over power it.

    I like your use of peppermint patties! I made the mistake of crushing candy cane up and topping them the night before, only to discover they had completely dissolved into a near syrup! Eeek!

  • I, on the other hand, love mint!! These look yum!! Great job on thw swirly piping!

  • Sue

    I made these last night and frosted them this morning. Frosting that involves cooking makes me nervous, but this buttercream turned out perfectly. It’s the best frosting I’ve ever made, so creamy and delicious. The cupcakes turned out moist. All in all, a success. I brought 12 into work today and they were gone in 20 minutes. I used mini candy canes for garnish. I did run out of red food coloring so my swirls were pink and white rather than red and white, and that bummed me out a little, but since they taste so good I don’t mind. I didn’t have a thermometer for cooking the egg whites and sugar, but you will just be able to tell when they’re done – there is an almost sudden thinning of the substance as the sugar dissolves. Great recipe!!!

  • Sue

    Oh and one other thing – why can’t someone invent a frosting piper that is double sided so that you can more easily make the swirls? Argh, it’s a messy project using a regular bag.

  • Annie

    Glad you enjoyed them! Just to be clear, the purpose of the thermometer is more for cooking the egg whites to a temperature where bacteria will be killed. It really isn’t related to the dissolution of the sugar, which happens quite a bit earlier. I would recommend a thermometer in the future!

  • Your desserts look fabulous! I can’t wait to try your recipes out.. and return for more! :)

  • Angela

    was just about to start making this & thought I had everything for it til I realized just how much butter & eggs I need, WOW! I still want to make it but contemplating if I can cut the recipe in 1/2, I will be making this for myself, my SO & 1 1/2 year old…. hmmmm

  • As a mintlover I must say they look fantastic!

  • Stephanie

    Annie, I’m hoping you still read these comments because I tried to make these and the frosting was an absolute DISASTER! It started “curdling” and no matter how many times I upped the speed on the mixer, it wouldn’t go together and stay together. After I put the frosting on the cupcakes, it started basically melting down…liquid was going over the cupcakes and it was so nasty that I had to just throw them all out. Any idea what I might have done wrong?

  • Annie

    Hi Stephanie,
    This is the nature of any Swiss meringue buttercream. It does look curdled but you just have to keep beating. It may take several minutes, but it always comes together eventually. It’s not really the speed of beating, but more the length that is important. You will know when it comes together. I did another post about just a basic vanilla SMBC and briefly discussed it here, in the recipe itself. Hope that helps!

  • Stephanie

    A very belated thank you!! I’ll be trying these again soon…

    And thanks overall for this site–your recipes have been my (extremely welcome) contribution to many a family dinner!!

  • Vivien

    Those look beautiful and I’m not even a fan of mint, but a few of my friends are. They would also look great garnished w/ mini peppermint pattys. :)

  • Sidda

    I wasn’t sure how much I would like these because the peppermint mocha is one of my favorite drinks ever, but I LOVED THEM! It was nice to have such a dark chocolate with the mint. I really enjoyed it. Kudos.

  • Hi Annie,
    I really enjoy your blog and have loved the recipes I’ve tried. It just occurred to me that a pumpkin spice latte cupcake would be fantastic – have you ever thought about creating one? I’ve looked online for one, but it doesn’t seem to exist and I can’t decide whether adding coffee to the batter would be best, or making a coffee icing. I’d love to know if you decided to tackle it! :)

  • Annie

    FABULOUS idea and I am just sad I didn’t think of it myself. I will put it on my brainstorm list and work on it soon. Yay!

  • Kristin

    Thank you! I can’t wait to see your take on them.

  • Michelle

    Hi Annie!! LOVE your site!! Made the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes the other day and they were a HUGE success!!

    I was wanting to omit the coffee from this, what do you suggest in place of the 1cup of brewed coffee??


  • Annie

    The coffee is an important component of this cake. It doesn’t lend that much of a coffee flavor, and more than anything emphasizes the chocolate. If you don’t want to use it, I suggest finding a different cake to use as the base.

  • Michelle

    Oh ok… Well if it really more than anything emphasizes the chocolate… And there is not that much of a coffee flavor, I will give it a try :)I just won’t tell hubby there is coffee in it… Hahaha :)

  • Amber

    I’m not usually a mint fan either, but for some reason I love Peppermint Mocha, so I’d love to give these a shot. Where might I find some espresso powder? I’ve seen other recipes call for it, too, but I have never been able to find it. Is there an online site or chain store that might have it, or would it be likely found in a specialty bakery store? Thanks!

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page.

  • Sheri

    Perfect!! I tried another site’s version last night, and they ended up in the trash. I felt so defeated until I remembered you have never disappointed me. Sure enough I found the exact recipe that I wanted, and they turned out amazing! Thank you for always being here for us. You are a life saver.

  • Julie B

    I just made these for a DAR luncheon and they were a huge hit. The ladies loved them! I rushed the frosting a little and it was pourable (it’s hard to get room temperature in Florida). But I popped it in the freezer for about 10 minutes, while I got dressed, then put it back on the stand mixer for a quick whip and it was perfect. Thanks for yet another awesome recipe!

  • MIchelle

    I’ve been trying your many cupcake recipes and I had issues with this frosting. I followed your instructions exactly, but my frosting was complete soup after I added the butter and I was only able to put it on the cupcakes after chilling it in the fridge for an hour and then the frosting melted on the cupcake after only sitting out for 30 minutes at work. What did I do wrong!! I saw your note about if it looks soupy to continue beating it until it comes together, but I let it beat for an additional 15 minutes and it never got any thicker. Any advice? Was my butter “too” room temperature perhaps?

  • Annie

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • MichelleL

    Hi Annie,

    First of all I’d like to say I absolutely love you and your site! Since finding it a month or two ago I’ve become completely inspired to do baking of all sorts- something I was never too into (I cook a lot)!

    I tried these cupcakes for a Christmas party, but instead of mocha I used your chocolate recipe and flavoured it with a bit of peppermint. Here’s where the problem came in- when I was trying to make the icing! I followed all the steps, and had to beat the eggs a little longer even (perhaps because I was using a hand mixer). After adding the butter though, the icing ended up losing most of the stiffness, and the texture became more like marshmellow fluff. No matter what I did, it wouldn’t thicken. In a panic (because I had hardly any time left), I ran out to the store and made a buttercream frosting with powdered sugar (not my favourite!), and had kept the original in the fridge to see if it would stiffen. It did, but I was worried once it got to room temperature it would lose that and end up running off the cupcake.

    Do you have any idea what happened?? It tasted great, and I was super disappointed it didn’t work out :( Just trying to see where I went wrong.

  • Melissa

    Hi Annie! I’ve been trying to make these cupcakes and I can’t get my frosting to not be soupy. I whipped it for the extra time like you had said, but it was still the same. Any suggestions?

  • Melissa

    Hi Annie! I’ve been trying to make these cupcakes and I can’t get my frosting to not be soupy. I whipped it for the extra time like you had said, but it was still the same. Any suggestions?

  • Anonymous

    Please see the FAQ page. You really just have to keep beating it! Sometimes chilling a portion and adding that back in can help as well.

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. You really just have to keep beating it! Sometimes chilling a portion and adding that back in can help as well.

  • Carolyn

    Another thing that I’ve found helpful is to switch to the paddle attachment after all of the butter is incorporated. For whatever reason, I’ve found that the paddle attachment on the stand mixer (as opposed to the whisk) really helps the buttercream come together.

  • Lizziemc1775

    Just made these for my English department party. My icing did not come out that great, but I think I got tired of beating it. Still tasted delicious, though. While my colleagues preferred the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes, these were MY favorite. More for me!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Michelle,
    You just needed to continue beating the frosting. It always comes together eventually. See the FAQ page for more info on Swiss meringue buttercream.

  • anonymus

    the frosting is very cool!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joellyn

    Did you use dutch-processed or just regular cocoa powder for this recipe?

  • annieseats

    If not otherwise indicated, you can assume just regular. Hope that helps :)

  • Katie

    Made these yesterday for a bridal shower (without the frosting) and they were delicious! It has a strong mint taste, which I loved. Since I don’t have a coffee maker, I bought a plain, strong brewed coffee from starbucks and used that. I also sifted all the dry ingredients together once. Everyone loved them. Thanks for the recipe!