One way I love to get into the Christmas spirit is to do some holiday baking!

Santa Hat Cupcakes

My office requested cupcakes for its annual holiday party, so I decided to make peppermint cupcakes–both chocolate and plain peppermint.

I baked minis with my regular chocolate cupcake recipe, substituting Nielsen-Massey Peppermint Extract for half of the vanilla and using a teaspoon of Nielsen-Massey Chocolate Extract instead of the brewed coffee.

Nielsen-Massey Peppermint Extract Cupcakes
Pure Peppermint Extract pepped up my chocolate cupcakes and made for a delightfully pepperminty buttercream. The Chocolate Extract worked with the cocoa to make the cake extra flavorful.

Peppermint Cupcakes in progress

I also made plain peppermint cupcakes, see recipe below!

Piping Striped Pepperming Frosting

To make the red and white striped icing for the chocolate peppermint cupcakes, I painted two stripes of red icing down the piping bag (I used a chopstick). I then carefully filled with white icing. It had a nice striped effect when I piped.

Peppermint Cupcakes

For the plain peppermint cupcakes, I made “Santa Hats” by piping a smooth swirl of red icing, then filling the base with white and a little ball on top.

Santa Hat Cupcakes

They were festive additions to the party, where they were a sweet hit!

Peppermint Cupcakes

Peppermint Cupcakes at Party
I packed extras in plastic party cups for guests wanting to take a few to-go!

Thank you to Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors for the chocolate and peppermint extracts! Nielsen-Massey uses premium ingredients sourced from around the world to craft their all-natural pure flavors. Learn more at

Recipe: Mini Peppermint Cupcakes

Makes 36 mini cupcakes

1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
8 ounces sour cream
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line mini muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low.

Add the eggs one at a time, then the peppermint extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix in the dry ingredients gradually, alternating with the sour cream, until just combined (don't overmix).

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins and bake 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Baking time varies by oven, so check them often!

Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove to racks and cool completely before frosting (If I have time, I like to bake the cupcakes the night before, frost the next morning).

Merry Christmas!

Ginger Couple

I baked gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting for my office holiday party. I couldn’t resist making some ginger people to top them!

Ginger People

The frosting was, I must say, amazing. I’d made cinnamon before, and cream cheese, but never the two together. Definitely recommended! I basically just added a teaspoon of cinnamon to my regular cream cheese frosting.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Happy Christmas Eve!

Peppermint is one of my favorite holiday flavors. Paired with chocolate—a flavor for all seasons—I’m in dessert heaven.

chocolate peppermint

I baked these for Mala Yoga‘s Holiday Party. (Interested in me and yoga? Read my yoga story!) One of my yoga teachers doesn’t eat wheat but can tolerate spelt, so I had an opportunity to use some of the spelt flour I’d gotten from my CSA. I hadn’t baked with spelt before, and I was curious how it would go.

You will hear spelt referred to as an “ancient grain.” This is because it is an ancestor of modern wheat. Spelt has slightly fewer calories than wheat and more protein, fiber, and certain vitamins.

spelt flourspelt flour
My spelt flour came from Farmer Ground. Visit their website!

Spelt flour is NOT gluten free. It has a different type of gluten, one that is often more easily digestible for people with gluten sensitivities, but it is not suitable for those with celiac disease. Many who have a wheat allergy, however, can eat goods baked with spelt flour.

Baking with Spelt Flour

My research instructed me to reduce the liquid in my recipe by 1/4 and to let the batter rest 10 minutes before baking. Spelt apparently absorbs more moisture than wheat, or maybe it just reacts a little differently to water. Otherwise, I just used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, substituting the spelt flour for regular wheat flour.

chocolate peppermint spelt

They were yummy, I have to say. I could tell there was something different about them, but I couldn’t tell that much. The main thing I noticed was that they were a little more crumbly, but that was no problem. I’d be happy to bake again with spelt flour any time!

I made a peppermint buttercream (my regular vanilla frosting with natural peppermint extract) and topped them with crushed candy canes.