Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 30 cupcakes
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!

***NOTE: Please notice that this recipe calls for a small box of chocolate pudding. Generic brands generally come in a 3.9 ounce box while a small box of Jell-O brand pudding is 3.4 ounces. Either box will work fine for this recipe.***

3/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1 C whipping cream
1/2 t vanilla
dash salt

1 devils food cake mix
1/3 C flour
1 small (3.9 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 C water
1 t vanilla
4 eggs
1/3 C oil
1/3 C sour cream

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
7 1/2 C powdered sugar
6 T whipping cream (or milk)
2 t peppermint extract

2-3 drops red food coloring

dash salt

15 small candy canes

1. Make your chocolate ganache by placing 1 cup whipping cream and 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Heat it for 30 seconds and then give it a nice stir. Return it to the microwave and heat it for another 30 seconds. Stir it again and if the chips aren't melted, pop it into the microwave a third time for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture until both ingredients are well combined and the ganache is nice and smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a dash of salt. Set it aside to cool. For a complete tutorial with pictures, click here.

2. Grab yourself a chocolate cake mix, a box of chocolate pudding and 1/3 cup flour. Place them into your stand mixer, or large mixing bowl and toss them around a bit to combine. 

3. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 4 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup of sour cream. Mix the ingredients on low for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom of your bowl with a rubber spatula and then mix it all on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the batter is nice and glossy.

4. Line your muffin tins with cupcake liners. Fill each liner just a bit more than half way full of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

5. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes while the rest in the pan. Then remove them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

6. While the cupcakes cool, make your frosting. Place 1 package softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup of softened butter into your stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Beat it on medium speed until the two are smooth and well combined. 

7. Add 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 6 tablespoon of whipping cream (or milk), 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract and a dash of salt. Mix on medium speed until smooth. If the frosting is too thick add a bit of milk. If it's too thin toss in a bit more powdered sugar.

8. I like to use a Wilton 1M cake decorating tip and a disposable decorating bag to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. You can find both of these at Walmart in the cake decorating aisle, at most craft stores or cake decorating supply stores.

9. Cut the tip of your bag off and place the decorating tip inside. Fill the bag with frosting and pipe it onto each cupcake.

10. Find yourself 15 small candy canes. These small candy canes break up easier than the large variety. But if you only have big ones, don't worry about it. They will work fine as well. Toss the candy canes into a small food processor and break them up into small pieces.

11. When your ganache has cooled down and is the consistency of thin pudding, drizzle it over the top of the cupcakes. If you drizzle while the ganache is still hot you are going to have a major mess on your hands. :) Make sure that it has cooled down enough, and that the texture has thickened up. You may still have a bit of it roll over the sides, don't worry about it. A little extra chocolate never hurt anyone, right! Questions about ganache? Click here for a full tutorial.

12. Immediately sprinkle the broken up candy canes over the top of the ganache. Once the ganache has set up it will be difficult for the candy canes to stick to the cupcakes, so it's best to sprinkle them on while the ganache is fresh. Serve and enjoy!

Store leftovers in the fridge. Also, for those of you who like to plan ahead, :) they can be made from start to finish up to a day in advance. The cupcakes with frosting applied also freeze really well. However it's best to add the ganache and candy canes within 24 hours or serving.