Chocolate Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes
Make the cake:
Let the dairy products for the cake (eggs, milk and sour cream/yogurt) sit out at room temperature for about an hour before mixing up your cake (ingredients that are room temperature instead of cold from the fridge work better in cakes).
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place 30 cupcake liners in baking pans.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine, then on medium speed for 2 minutes until well blended. Divide the batter between the liners. (The cups should be no more than 2/3 full (or even a little less) - don't be tempted to fill them too full by making 24 cupcakes instead of 30 - these cupcakes rise quite a bit and you don't want the tops to overflow or you will have great big muffin tops on your cupcakes.
Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes (rotating the pans halfway through) until the center of the cake is done. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans, place on wire racks, and cover with clean kitchen towels to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting:
With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth and combined Add the peppermint extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until combined. Add the milk, a little at a time, and whip for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
Scoop half the frosting into a separate bowl and cover with plastic. Add red gel food coloring to the other half of the frosting (the gel kind will not dilute your frosting like the liquid food coloring will), until the frosting has reached the color you want.
Spoon the white and red frosting into a piping bag or tool, alternating the colors, so that when you pipe the frosting, the colors will be swirled together.
Sprinkle the finished cupcakes with the crushed peppermint candy (note that the candy does melt a little as it sits on the frosting, so if this bothers you, just add it at the last minute before serving, or just stick a mini-candy cane into each cupcake.)
Yields 30 cupcakes.