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Gluten-free Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

Baby, it is cold outside. Freeze your patootie off while wearing all the clothes you own cold. Close all the schools in Chicago cold.

It's going to be a cold one in Chicago
Image courtesy NBC 5 Chicago

It hasn’t been winter like this since I was a kid. Tomorrow’s high is estimated to be -13 Fahrenheit (that’s -26 Celsius). We are at almost 20″ of snow this week too.

a recipe for gluten-free peppermint hot chocolate cupcakes from frannycakes

I think that means it is high time to stay inside and bake some cupcakes. And to take the extra time and make a merengue buttercream, because, heck, where are you going to go when it is that cold and with that much snow on the ground?

And then you can surprise your coworkers with some fabulous cupcakes, if you have any left when this pair of winter storms (Hercules and Ion – seriously who names these things?) has made its way out.

a recipe for gluten-free peppermint hot chocolate cupcakes from frannycakes

Gluten-free Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cupcakes
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • For the gluten-free peppermint chocolate cakes
  • 85 grams (1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ cups (354 mL) boiling water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract or 3-5 drops of peppermint oil
  • 300 grams (2 cups + 1T) gluten-free all purpose flour*
  • ½ teaspoon xantham gum**
  • 434 grams (2 cups firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 11 grams (2¼ teaspoons) baking powder
  • 4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 5 grams (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 237 grams (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • Peppermint Chocolate Swiss Merengue Buttercream
  • 8 large egg whites (30g each–total 225g, or 1 cup)
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 560 grams (5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes**
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 400 grams (about 2 cups of discs) high quality chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract or 3-5 drops peppermint oil – adjusted for taste.
  • Candy cakes or peppermint candies, crushed (optional)
Instructions
Bake the cupcakes
  1. Whisk together the boiling water and cocoa until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, the vanilla, the peppermint and ¼ of the cocoa mixture.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the dry ingredients and mix for 30 seconds – just long enough to create a uniform mixture.
  5. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix on low until the dry goods are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Add the egg mixture in 3 parts, mixing for 30 seconds on medium after each addition and scraping down the sides.
  7. Fill the cupcake tins ⅔ full and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cakes are done when they bounce back after being tapped gently with a finger or a tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack until completely cool.
For the frosting
  1. While the cakes cool, make the frosting.
  2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a small pot until they reach 140 degrees fahrenheit.
  3. Transfer to a clean stand mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat until light and fluffy (soft peaks).
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter one chunk at a time until it is all combined.
  5. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on half power, heating it first for 30 seconds, and then in 15 second intervals after that, always stirring after each burst of heat. Once melted, let the chocolate cool so that it is still melted but just warm, not hot – you don’t want it hot so that it melts the butter, and then add it to your frosting, beating and scraping down the sides so you have a velvety and evenly mixed buttercream.
Assemble
  1. When completely cool, pipe a generous swirl of chocolate peppermint swiss merengue buttercream on each cupcake.
  2. Top with crushed peppermint candies or edible glitter for something extra special.
Notes
*This recipe was tested using Cup4Cup Gluten-Free all purpose flour, but will work with your preferred blend as long as you measure by weight. **Omit if using a blend that already includes xantham gum.[br]**I prefer to use Plugra butter (or other high-butterfat) butter in my buttercream. You can really taste a difference, but the best butter you have on hand will work just fine.
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