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Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes


Is it not completely insane that 2018 is less than a week away?! I am in shock. This is my official last recipe post of 2017 and it's a special one because I have again accomplished something new in my kitchen.....I made Swiss meringue buttercream!

2017 was definitely the year of trying new things. I made caramel for the first time. I tried Italian meringue macarons. Heck, I even rebranded and redesigned the blog! And now I am ending the year with a buttercream I have been wanting to try for forever. But let's take it back a little bit!
My inspiration for making these cupcakes came from my dear husband who is obsessed with the peppermint mocha drink from Starbucks. (Shout out to Starbucks for being open on Christmas!) He drinks it year round and I thought to myself, wouldn't it be fantastic to make a cupcake version of it? And wouldn't it be more fantastic to use this opportunity to make Swiss meringue buttercream? Yes, the answer is yes.
Although the name of the buttercream might make it sound like it's difficult, it's really not. Using a stand mixer does make things very easy, but it's not required. You can use a hand mixer and just keep whipping...literally. The cupcakes themselves are a newly developed recipe by yours truly and I think I am going to stick with it. It's so moist, so chocolatey, and so decadent; it pairs perfectly with a fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream.
And THAT is how you win best wife of the year.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes
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Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 eggs
1/2 cup brewed hot coffee
1/4 cup sour cream

For the peppermint Swiss meringue buttercream:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring

For the chocolate ganache:
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Melt together butter and chocolate in a microwave. In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together melted butter/chocolate and eggs until well-incorporated.

Pour the butter/egg mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk together to combine. Whisk in hot coffee, then stir in sour cream.

Distribute batter evenly between prepared liners, filling about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack for a few minutes, before removing the cupcakes from the pans and letting them cool completely.

To make Swiss meringue buttercream, add egg whites and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Return bowl to stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment, and beat mixture on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Reduce speed to medium-low and add butter, a little at a time, while mixer is running. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until buttercream is smooth and silky. (It may look curdled at one point--don't worry, just keep whipping).

Add vanilla and peppermint flavor and beat until incorporated.

Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large decorating tip. Frost cupcakes as desired. Transfer cupcakes to fridge for buttercream to cool.

To prepare ganache, in a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until simmering. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth. Drizzle ganache over cooled cupcakes. Garnish with crushed candy canes. 

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