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.


  • Yield about 24 cupcakes


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.