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Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes ~ the combination of rich chocolate, sweet buttercream, and cooling peppermint will bring on holiday cheer!
Nothing says “It's the holidays” better than chocolate and peppermint together. Wouldn't you agree? These Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes are filled with festive vibes and need to be in your life this season!
If you're heading out to a holiday party, take along these cupcakes and a batch of my Vegan Snowball Cookies or Vegan Thumbprint Cookies. You'll be the talk of the evening! They make great holiday gifts too! You can wrap them up with a mug along with Hot Chocolate on a Stick. These are gifts from the heart and are sure to make anyone feel loved.
How to make chocolate cupcakes more chocolatey
For these Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes, I used Dutch Processed Cocoa. It took these cupcakes to another level! They came out so rich and chocolatey! I've used it for years but stayed away from baking with it because I've heard it could create undesirable results.
Dutch Processed Cocoa has a neutral PH and won't react in recipes with just baking soda. So, you can't use it in any recipe to replace regular cocoa powder. However, I used apple cider vinegar to create vegan buttermilk and that produced enough acidity for fantastic results. It's a game-changer!
If you want to use regular cocoa powder for this recipe, the cupcakes will still be moist, fluffy, and delicious! You can also boost the chocolate power by adding a teaspoon of espresso powder or fold in a ½ cup of vegan chocolate chips to the batter.
If you aren't a big chocolate fan, you can make my Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting instead. Or if you want to go full-on chocolate crazy, you can make my Vegan Chocolate Frosting and just add the peppermint extract to it.
How to make the best Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
(Full instructions are in the recipe card below)
- STEP 1 - Combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a medium mixing bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- STEP 2 -Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- STEP 3 - Now whisk the dry ingredients to combine well.
- STEP 4 - Add the applesauce, sugar, vanilla, and oil to the medium bowl with the buttermilk. Whisk to combine well.
- STEP 5 - Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
- STEP 6 - Whisk together until just combined and don't overwork the batter. Lumps are ok.
- STEP 7 - Fill cupcake liners about ½ - ⅔ full (*don't fill more than that).
- STEP 8 - Let them cool in the pan for 8-10 before removing them. Then let them completely cool before frosting them.
How to make the frosting
You'll definitely need a handheld or stand mixer to make this frosting. If you're in the market for one, I highly recommend this KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer. I've had it for years and I use it all the time. It's very sturdy and works like a charm!
- STEP 1 - Make sure the vegan butter is slightly softened at room temperature (not melty). Add it to the bowl and beat until fluffy (about a minute). Add the peppermint and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated (about 30-60 seconds)
- STEP 2 - Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time over low speed until it's fully incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Now turn up to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy.
How to pipe with Buttercream Frosting
STEP 1 - First, you'll need to fit a Disposable or Reusable Piping Bag with a decorating tip (you can also use a Ziploc bag). I like to use Extra Large Tips for fast and easy coverage.
STEP 2 - Cut the end off the piping bag (just enough to fit the decorating tip) and place the tip inside the bag and through the hole. It should stay in place and not fall through.
STEP 3 - Fit the bag over a tall glass or container. Keep the tip on its side so the frosting doesn't leak out while you're filling. Now fill the bag with the frosting using a spatula.
STEP 4 - Remove the bag from the container and gently twist the top to close. You can keep it shut with a clip or use your hand to keep it closed while piping.
STEP 5 - Hold the top of the bag with your dominant hand and your other hand at the bottom. Start at the edges of the cupcake. Squeeze at the top and guide the bag with your other hand making a circular motion.
STEP 6 - Continue around until you touch frosting - then move inside the circle you just made and make another rotation until the cupcake is covered. Need a visual? Here is a great Piping Technique Tutorial to watch.
I'd love to hear from you
If you make these Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (sub lemon juice)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil , or any neutral flavored oil
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (*see note about measuring)
- ½ cup dutch processed cocoa powder (sub unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup vegan stick butter , slightly softened at room temp
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon peppermint , more if desired
- 2 candy canes , crushed
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (177 °C). Fill a 12-Slot Cupcake Pan with your favorite Cupcake Liners.
- In a medium Mixing Bowl, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Combine and let it sit for 10 minutes to create a vegan buttermilk. It will thicken and curdle slightly. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with a Mesh Strainer on top (or use a Flour Sifter), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Now whisk to combine well. Set aside.
- In the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
- Now slowly pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined. Small lumps are fine. (*Don't over mix or it can create a dense and chewy cupcake)
- Divide batter evenly into each slot about ⅔ full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Bake them in the oven for 20-24 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface - It should spring back (You can also use a toothpick and push it through the center - it should come out clean).
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
- Add the softened vegan butter to the bowl of a Stand Mixer (or use a Medium/Large Stainless Steel Bowl with a Hand Mixer). Beat until fluffy for 30-60 seconds.
- Add the peppermint and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated (about 30-60 seconds)
- Now add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time over low speed until it's fully incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Now turn up to medium-high speed and mix until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add more sugar if needed. (*if the buttercream is too thick or dry, add a few teaspoons of non-dairy milk and mix until fully incorporated). Fill a piping bag and decorate cooled cupcakes and top with crushed candy canes (*detailed piping instructions in the post above).
- If you won't be serving the cupcakes right away. Decorate the cupcakes and place them in the fridge for a few hours. Take them out an hour before serving. This will prevent the buttercream from melting.
- If you want to save time, you can use store-bought Vegan Frosting. I don't know how it will react with peppermint extract, so I would just add the crushed candy cane to the top.
- If you use regular cocoa powder and want to boost the chocolate flavor, you can add 1 teaspoon of Espresso Powder to the dry ingredients. I wouldn't add it with the Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder.
- For accurate results, don't scoop the flour with a measuring cup directly from the flour container. Instead, scoop the flour out of your container with a spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don't pack or tap the cup. After filling, lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour. * Example photo below recipe card.
- Make sure your baking soda is not expired. Fresh baking agents are important for a successful baking experience.
Made 2 batches for the holidays, so tasty! Used home-made applesauce & cashew milk, added pecans + dk choc chips, let batter rest for about 30 minutes before baking. Vegan whipped cream for topping, added a small amount of peppermint oil, topped w crushed candy cane
Thanks for the positive feedback Kelly. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed these.
Makes these every Christmas now!! So good!!
Thank you and happy holidays. 🙂
I’m a very experienced baker but have very little experience of vegan baking. A friend asked me to do some vegan cupcakes for her little girl’s Christmas party and these seemed perfect. I doubled the recipe and baked them in two batches - both batches turned out perfectly! The buttercream was delicious too (I coloured half of it red to pipe it with candy cane coloured swirls). I will definitely make these again (regardless of whether or not the cakes need to be vegan). Thanks so much for sharing this!
Thanks for sharing your feedback, Steph! I am so happy you found my recipe and loved it as much as I do. 🙂
I made these last night. Both my husband and myself loved them. He kept eating the cupcakes without the icing while they were warm from the oven. I didn't have any peppermint candy canes so I chopped up some peppermint candy melts and sprinkled on top. I also tinted the icing pink. They are sooooo good, I'm rethinking my Christmas menu to include them.
These were delicious and easy to make. I used almond milk as well.
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Hi Jane! We are happy to hear that you loved the cupcakes 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!
Amazing! I made some for me and will now make for christmas treats to drop off to friends and family 🙂
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Hi Jenna! We are so happy to hear that you loved the cupcakes - and so lovely that you are making them for your friends and family! Thanks so much and happy holidays 🙂
So excited to make these!! If I want to make the cupcakes in advance, should I refrigerate them or just leave them in a container at room temp? Thanks !
In the ingredients list it says baking soda, but in the instructions it says baking powder. Which one do I use?
Thank you for catching that. It’s baking soda. I will fix the error now. 😀
It still says "powder" in "3. In a large mixing bowl with a Mesh Strainer on top (or use a Flour Sifter), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Now whisk to combine well. Set aside."
So I made the carrot cake and then I had to try the chocolate cupcakes. I decided to make a cake instead of the cupcakes and I had almond milk on hand instead of soy. Just like the carrot cake this was amazing. Best chocolate cake ever!!
Yay! I'm so happy to hear this! Thank you for giving the recipes a try and sharing your feedback. Have a nice weekend! 🙂
I made these without the frosting and used unsweetened almond milk... they were incredible. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Tammy, this is so nice to hear! I love them without the frosting too. Thank you for making them 🙂
Such beautiful lighting on these cupcakes, love the photography! The recipe sounds delicious too, of course. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
These peppermint cupcakes were gone from the table in less than 5 minutes. Perfect for our vegan Christmas dinner.