Peppermint usually finds its way into recipes that call for dark chocolate. The strong, bittersweet taste of cocoa is a good match for the bright, clean flavor of peppermint because the cocoa takes the sharp edge off of a strong peppermint. But that strong, minty flavor also pairs well with white chocolate because it can cut its sweetness and leave you with a perfectly balanced blend of vanilla, white chocolate and peppermint in a dessert. These Peppermint White Chocolate Cupcakes are a great example of a dessert that uses all these flavors well – meaning that even those who aren’t big white chocolate fans are sure to like them.
The cupcakes are made with white chocolate and peppermint. They don’t have as much sugar as some cupcakes because they also include melted white chocolate, which adds extra sweetness to the batter. As always, try to use a good quality white chocolate made with real chocolate ingredients – i.e. look for something that lists cocoa butter and not other vegetable fats on the ingredient list – because you’ll get a much better flavor in the finished cupcake. I topped these with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. The tang of the cream cheese goes well with both white chocolate and peppermint, though must I confess that I like cream cheese frosting with most cupcake flavors and not just this combination.
I didn’t add any peppermint to the frosting because I didn’t want to make these cupcakes too pepperminty. I did, however, garnish the cupcakes with some crushed candy canes. The candy canes gave the cupcakes a little pop of color and a hint of crunch to those first few bites. If you don’t have the crushed candy canes on hand, you can roll the edges of the cupcakes in red and white sprinkles for a similarly festive look.
Peppermint White Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4-oz white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup milk (any kind)
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
crushed peppermints, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by cooled melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, ending with a final addition of flour. Stir batter until dry ingredients are just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake at 325F for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
After cupcakes are frosted, roll the edges in crushed peppermints for a festive garnish.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
4-oz butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and smooth. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes