cake · dessert

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

You guys, these cupcakes are SOOO good! I’m usually pretty humble about my baking/cooking, but I couldn’t stop talking about how delicious these cupcakes were. I was wishing my conscience would allow me to eat multiple, but I exerted self control.

Many years ago I made peppermint cupcakes that had a white chocolate cake, big candy cane chunks on top, and then a vanilla buttercream on top of that. They looked beautiful and festive, but I didn’t love them.

Because I love all the candy cane things, I knew I had to try to see if I could come up something else for the perfect Christmas cupcake. I was baking chocolate cupcakes for a neighbor, so I decided to double the recipe and see where it led me. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than biting into a cupcake and having a surprise, so I used my cupcake corer to scoop out some of the center and filled it with a dark chocolate filling. I frosted them with my usual vanilla frosting recipe, and then spooned crushed candy canes on top. So thankful for child labor and a productive way for 8 and 10 year old boys to get out their energy crushing those candy canes for me.

The result? A winner!! I’m so glad we make birthday cake for Jesus every Christmas so we can eat these again soon! So if you signed up for dessert for those holiday parties, do try these!

See this post for all my cupcake baking tips.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

Course Dessert
Yield 13 cupcakes


For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (or substitute peppermint extract to be extra festive)
  • pinch salt

For the frosting:

  • 20 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

For the topping:

  • crushed candy canes


For the cake:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners. (I always make 13 cupcakes, sometimes 14 with this recipe. 12 gives me muffin tops, which is not pretty).

  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. (Alternately use a whisk and mix them together in a bowl).

  3. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed (not necessary if you’re using your beater blade). Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.

  4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full (or use this scoop, scantly filled). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the filling:

  1. Combine cream and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let cool to barely warm. 

  2. Hollow out the center of each cupcake. You can do this with a knife, but this cupcake corer tool is worth the nearly $6… you’ll be done in just a few minutes. I often delegate this out to my kids (after insisting they wash their hands at least twice).

  3. Once the filling is cool to touch and thickened, fill the cupcake holes with the chocolate filling. It may settle, so don't be surprised if you have to do a second round to top off the holes.

For the frosting:

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade (or paddle), beat butter, cream, vanilla, salt, and vanilla bean, if using, on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, slowly adding sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, about 4 minutes.

  2. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 

  3. Frost the cupcakes in whatever style you desire. I use this 18-inch bag, with a Wilton 1A tip, and this large coupler.

  4. Spoon the crushed candy canes on top immediately after frosting.


Frosted cupcakes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving, about 2 hours.

Source: Cake from “Cupcakes” cookbook by Shelly Kaldunski, Chocolate Filling and Vanilla Buttercream from America’s Test Kitchen

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