Peppermint Hostess cupcakes

This week I have several baking projects on the table. There’s Valentine’s day (post to follow), and then there’s my sister’s b-day. As kids, we fought over York peppermint patties in the Halloween loot. Our mom used to get us a package of andes mints (the kind you’d find on hotel pillows and grandma candy dishes). For some reason, that combo of chocolate mint has always been a favorite. And so, casting around for another way to transform a chocolate dessert with the frosty note of peppermint, I turned to devil’s food cupcakes and a classic junk food treat, made ten times better with real buttercream and chocolate ganache. Is it possible to make a childhood favorite even better? Usually, the answer is yes. Because you’re an adult now… and you’re a crazy mad-scientist in the kitchen… and you care about doing these things right way more than your parents ever did.

Hostess cupcakes with peppermint butter-cream

Servings: 16


  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/8 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the peppermint butter-cream

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • green food coloring (2-3 drops)

For the chocolate ganache frosting

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (bittersweet or dark)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract


Preheat the oven to 350. Heat water, and combine with cocoa powder in a bowl until smooth. Meanwhile, heat butter and sugar in a saucepan, until combined. Remove from heat and stir until cooled. Add vanilla, eggs, and cocoa water mixture.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the wet ingredients, sour cream, and combine until smooth. Fill a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Fill about 3/4 the way with batter. Bake about 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the peppermint butter-cream, mix powdered sugar and softened butter with peppermint extract and food coloring.

For the ganache. Heat cream in a saucepan until steaming. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and peppermint extract and butter. Stir to combine.

To assemble, remove a small circle from the center of the cupcake with a pairing knife, and remove center, reserve the top. Fill a plastic zip-lock bag with the peppermint butter-cream and cut a small slit in the corner. Put the tip of the make-shift piping bag into the center of the cupcake, and squeeze in a dollop of the  frosting. Add the reserved cupcake man-hole top to cover the frosting.

Dip the cupcake top-side down into the warm ganache. Let cool completely. When the ganache sets, pipe decorative squiggle using the zip-lock bag piping method with remaining butter-cream. Store in the fridge or serve immediately.