I made these a few weeks ago for my christmas get together and then Simon asked me to make them again the next weekend for his work christmas party so I've made these twice now and still have not perfected the icing swirl but it did progressively get better! It was the first time I had made striped icing and it really was not as hard as I expected so don't be scared off by the tall, striped icing. It is easier than you would think!!
Okay so the cupcakes are just a chocolate cupcake recipe although, the one it called for was different than than any other I had made before.
Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:
(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water
-Line muffin tin with paper liners. Heat oven to 350*F.
-In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
-Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
-Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don't worry, this is right).
-Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. (We found that using a ladle worked decently well but some sort of pitcher would probably work even better. The batter is super thin!)
-Bake cupcakes for approximately 22-24 minutes.
-Cool completely on wire rack before frosting. (About an hour, other wise the icing melts right off and doesn't harden in any sort of cute form)
Okay, now for the icing part. I know there are several different methods for making striped icing but since this was my first time trying such a thing I religiously followed the directions in the recipe rather than ride a creative wave. It worked well but another method may be easier for others... Who knows.
Peppermint Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 Tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (about 3/4 of a regular block of cream cheese)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 to 3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream or milk- (I used milk and it didn't seem to be lacking in any richness- That works better for me because I never have whipping cream on hand.)
red food coloring
candy canes ( crushed for topping)
-Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
-Add powdered sugar (a little at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
-Add vanilla and peppermint extracts
-Slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
-Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
-Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)
In your piping bag, with a toothpick make two lines opposite each other going from the bottom nozzle to the middle of the bag (there is no point in going all the way up with the food coloring stripes because when you twist the bag to compress the icing it will end up getting wasted). Then add the icing. Just plop it in there one blob at a time and it turns out fine. If other parts of the icing gave minor red on them it doesn't effect the stripes. It is a pretty messy ordeal but it isn't very difficult. I was only able to do about 1/3 of the icing in the bag at a time. So you will have to do the striping process before each refill.
I forgot to take a picture of this step but i found this picture online and this is exactly how it looked.
After the icing is in the bag twist the bag where the icing ends at the top (like your closing a bread bag) and then let the icing squeeze back into the icing bowl until you see the red stripe (that way you don't waste your plain white icing)
I've found the easiest way to get the tall cupcake swirl is to put one icing blob in the center of the cupcake and then use that for your guide. Make a slow circle around the blob and gradually swirl your way up until you completed the swirl tip.
Okay the last step is to crush some candy cane and sprinkle it on top. One thing to note about the peppermint, if you put it on and then leave the cupcakes out for a long time they will melt and bleed into the icing.
Here are the cupcakes without the candy canes
Here are the cupcakes with. In my second batch i only put the candy canes on the ones where the red stripe wasn't very prominent.