Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream and Mousse Filling


With the holiday season in full swing it's the perfect time of year for baking up lots of delicious and festive treats. While I have always loved cookies, I would have to say that a good cupcake has always been my favorite individual treat. The perfect combination of a spongy homemade cake with some fluffy frosting is truly one of my favorite things! If that sounds like you too, then you are sure to love these wintery and festive homemade cupcakes.

What makes these cupcakes so festive?

These hot chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream (and mousse filling!) basically taste like your favorite hot chocolate, and look like the North Pole, so that combination is really winning in the festive flavor and vibe department! This time of year there's nothing I crave more on a cold winter day than a nice hot cup of hot chocolate, and these cupcakes taste just like your favorite cup. With a homemade peppermint buttercream, they not only taste extra Christmas-y, but they also look so cute and perfect for the holiday season.

Melted chocolate

How many parts are there to these homemade cupcakes?

There are three separate parts to these homemade hot chocolate cupcakes, and each part is delicious, easy, and 100% worth it! While I used to get nervous about multi-step baking recipes, this is one of those recipes where you can accomplish so much while the cupcakes are baking and cooling, so it really doesn't take much extra time at all. Plus, I promise, each step is really simple! When you bite into that filled cupcake topped with pepperminty and fluffy frosting, the little extra effort will also all pay off. Here are the three parts of these cupcakes-

  1. Hot chocolate cupcakes - easy cocoa powder cupcakes that come together quickly and only bake for 18-20 minutes
  2. Milk chocolate mousse - decadent, fun-to-make mousse that you will fill the cupcakes with to truly make them taste like your favorite hot chocolate
  3. Peppermint buttercream - a simple buttercream with the addition of some peppermint extract to make it taste just like a candy cane!

Baked chocolate cupcakes

Which part do you start with?

The hot chocolate cupcakes! These cupcakes couldn't be simpler to make, as they only require one bowl (is there anything better?)! This recipe makes 16 cupcakes, but you can of course double it if you'd rather have 32, which certainly doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. These cupcakes are also so easy because in a large bowl (of a stand mixer, or in a separate large bowl if you have a hand mixer) you'll combine the dry ingredients-

  • flour
  • granulated sugar
  • cocoa powder (for the perfect hot chocolate cupcake)
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • salt

And mix these on low until they are combined! 

Hot chocolate cupcakes

While the mixer is still on low, it's as easy as adding each of the wet ingredients in, mixing between each addition to ensure each of these is incorporated-

  • 2 eggs
  • canola oil
  • buttermilk
  • vanilla
  • hot water (makes this batter super glossy)

Once everything has been incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn that mixer on medium, mixing for about 2 minutes. This batter is relatively thin which makes it super easy to pour into cupcake trays lined with 16 cupcake liners. Make sure to only fill each liner about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the top, as these will definitely puff as they bake. Pop these in the oven for 18-20 minutes, and bake until when you gently press a finger on the cupcakes, they spring back. Once baked, let cool completely.

Peppermint buttercream frosted hot chocolate cupcakes

Meanwhile…on to the mousse!

I'm not sure about you, but to me the word mousse used to sound inherently a little fancy and therefore a little difficult. I've learned though that mousse is actually super easy to make, and only uses a few ingredients! So what are these ingredients? Just these 5!

  1. hot water
  2. cocoa powder
  3. milk chocolate chips - what makes this mousse extra perfect for the filling of a hot chocolate cupcake with the creamiest chocolate taste
  4. heavy cream - here to help ensure the fluffiest of mousses
  5. granulated sugar

The steps are as easy as combining the hot water and cocoa powder in a small bowl, and microwaving the chocolate chips in a medium bowl in 10 second increments until they are smooth. You'll then pour the cocoa hot water over the chocolate chips, and stir until the mixture is combined and smooth. At first it may not look like the hot water is combining into the melted chips, but keep stirring and everything will incorporate and you will end up with the glossiest melted choccolate ever! While this is cooling, you'll beat the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Then it's as simple as folding the cooled chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, using a spatula, until it is combined.

My favorite tip for folding something in is to not stir, but rather fold, the mixture over itself in the shape of a plus sign until it is a uniform color and combined, but still super fluffy. This mousse is now all set to be piped into the cupcakes, so go ahead and set it in the fridge while you make the frosting. A word of caution - I would not recommend trying this mousse before piping it in the cupcakes, as one taste will likely have you grabbing a spoon and just eating the whole bowl. Trust me, it is absolutely delicious!

Hot chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream

The buttercream frosting for these cupcakes is extremely simple, with one special addition to ensure they taste extra festive. My mom has made my sister and I all sorts of incredible cakes and cupcakes over the years, but her go-to has always been a simple buttercream that truly never fails. It's fluffy, creamy, and has the perfect amount of powdered sugar.

So what makes this buttercream perfect for a Christmas-inspired cupcake?

Peppermint extract! Peppermint extract truly tastes just like a candy cane, so what could be better than that for a holiday cupcake? It's minty, adds a refreshing twist to the sweet frosting, and is the perfect replacement for the vanilla that is usually in buttercream. While I do love peppermint flavor, I find it can be overpowering at times, so by adding just a bit to this frosting recipe, it pairs perfectly with the warm, chocolately, flavors of the hot chocolate cupcakes. Follow these steps and you'll have the fluffiest Christmas frosting-

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract on low speed
  2. Once combined, beat for 1-2 minutes on medium until fluffy

Mousse filled hot chocolate cupcakes

Now on to the fun part - assembly!

Now that the 3 separate components are completely done, it's time to move on to the fun part, assembling these hot chocolate cupcakes. You'll start with filling each of the cupcakes. The easiest way I find to do this is to use a small knife to cut a circle about the size of a quarter in the middle of each of the cupcakes, cutting about 1-inch deep into the cupcake. You can either pop out this cube using your fingers or a small spoon. It's super easy to fill each hole by adding the chilled mousse to a pastry bag, and piping it into each cupcake. You'll want to add enough that the cupcake is pretty filled, but not so much that the mousse is too high over the top of the cupcake.

Next add the peppermint buttercream to a clean pastry bag, and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake in the prettiest swirl! You can really use any kind of tip, but I find that the medium sized open star tips create the prettiest swirl. Also, the slighly larger tips make these extra speedy to frost!

Mousse filled hot chocolate cupcakes

How to decorate these festive cupcakes

Now that the cupcakes are filled and frosted, a couple quick extra steps will make these so cute, and perfect for the holiday season. Because the holiday season always seems to fly by, I love to take the time to make everything I can a little extra festive, and the same goes for these North Pole-inspired cupcakes. Grab the mini candy canes and mini marshmallows (aren't mini things just the best?) and finish these up by-

  1. Carefully sticking the bottom of each mini candy cane into a mini marshmallow
  2. Inserting the hooked end of each mini candy cane into the side of each cupcake (either just into the frosting or slighly into the top of the cupcake if it's not staying in place)
  3. Sprinkle each with some extra crushed candy canes for an extra peppermint-y and holiday-y cupcake

Hot chocolate cupcake with peppermint buttercream and mousse filling

These hot chocolate cupcakes are perfect for the holiday season, and taste just like a creamy cup of hot chocolate with a peppermint twist. Bake these up and enjoy each mousse-filled festive bite.

Recipe Details:

Servings: 16 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream and Mousse Filling

These festive holiday hot chocolate cupcakes are topped with the simplest peppermint flavored buttercream, filled with a creamy, milk chocolate mousse, and taste just like your favorite cup of wintery hot chocolate.



Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Milk Chocolate Mousse

  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar

Peppermint Buttercream and Topping

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5-6 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 16 mini candy canes, plus additional for crushing
  • 16 mini marshmallows


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake trays with 16 liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, add all cupcake dry ingredients and mix on medium low until combined. With the mixer on low, add in all cupcake wet ingredients, mixing continiously throughout each addition. Once combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then mix on medium for about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour into lined cupcake trays and bake for 18-20 minutes, then let cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the mousse filling. In a small bowl, combine the hot water and cocoa powder. Add the milk chocolate chips to a medium microwave safe bowl and microwave in 10 second increments, stirring between each, until smooth. Pour the cocoa mixture over the melted chocolate and stir until combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture with a spatula until combined. Refridgerate while you prepare the frosting.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract on low speed. Once combined beat for 1-2 minutes on medium until fluffy.
  7. To assemble, use a knife to cut a quarter-sized hole in the middle of each cooled cupcake. Remove about a 1-inch cube from each cupcake. Add the mousse to a pastry bag and fill each cupcake. Add peppermint buttercream to a pastry bag with an open star tip and pipe onto each cupcake.
  8. Stick the bottom end of each mini candy cane into a mini marshmallow. Carefully stick the hooked end of each candy cane into the side of each frosted cupcake. Sprinkle with adiditional crushed candy canes if desired and enjoy!

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