Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes

I haven't made surprise cupcakes in a while, but I've known for weeks that I was going to make these when Christmas time rolled around. I meant to post this last week when I made them, but I've got a new laptop! So it's taken me a few days to get everything transferred over from my old one.

I love peppermint bark. I mean, it's just chocolate. Like, plain chocolate. With some crushed up candy canes on top. Last year I made cupcakes with pieces of homemade peppermint bark on top, but this year I decided to try something crazy. Peppermint bark inside the cupcakes. I love the little Ghirardelli peppermint bark squares and thought they'd be the perfect size for the "surprise".

I'm not sure why the idea of putting things inside cupcakes is so exciting to me. I just really love when a cupcake, or a similar baked good, secretly has a surprise on the inside and you can't tell at all from the outside. It's probably because of my friends' reactions. I also just really love to see what happens to the texture of the "surprise", whatever it may be, after it's baked inside a cupcake.

This recipe makes about 10 cupcakes. I adapted it from (guess what) my Black Magic Cake.


1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 package of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares
   (Or whatever kind you like, cut into squares or pieces small enough to fit into your cupcake pan)
  • The first thing you need to do is unwrap 10 of the peppermint bark squares and cut off the corners. (They aren't exactly the right size for "surprises", but they're pretty close.) You can do whatever you want with the corners. You can eat them, or decorate your cupcakes with them, or save them for later. Put the peppermint bark squares/octagons aside.
  • In a small-medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Carefully whisk them together.
  • In another medium sized bowl, combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix well. 
  • At this point, you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • When you put the batter in the first paper liner, make sure you put enough in to completely cover the bottom. Fill the liner up about halfway, maybe a little less, and then put in a peppermint bark square. Cover it with cake batter until the liner is about 2/3 full. Repeat with the 9 other cupcakes liners.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes. Usually, I will insert a toothpick into a couple of cupcakes at this point to make sure they're done, but because the peppermint bark will be melted inside the cupcake, the toothpick will more than likely not come out clean. If the cupcakes don't seem ready yet, you can put them back in the oven for a couple more minutes.
  • Let the cupcakes cool for five minutes, them transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
(Red store-bought frosting or red food coloring, optional)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Add milk, peppermint extract, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Mix until everything is incorporated.
  • Add the last 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix well.
  • Test the frosting to see if it's the right consistency. If it's too thin, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.
  • At this point, you can divide the frosting into two bowls and add red food coloring to one if you want. You could also leave it all white. I really wanted a two-toned frosting, but I was lazy (it was final exam week) and bought a can of red frosting from the store.

I don't know how other people pipe two-toned frosting, but I like to put a decorating bag in a large cup and then turn the edges down. Then put white frosting on one side, red frosting on the other, and there you go!

The peppermint bark definitely loses its shape in the baking process, which I thought would happen, but you can definitely taste it. I had one a few minutes after I took them out of the oven, and it was soo good. The cupcakes turned out to be more like brownies. And then there was the melty peppermint bark in the middle. I almost didn't want to put frosting on them so I could serve them warm.

I know it's cutting it close to Christmas, but more Christmas recipes are on the way!


  1. These tasted delish! Your photography continues to impress, the photos are awesome!

  2. I am going to make these the day after Christmas when we will have Ali, Patrick, Dan and Katie over. These will be perfect. I like their red and white colors too! RT.

    1. Oh, yay! I hope you like them and you'll have to tell me how it goes!! :)

  3. I must have eaten at least three of these. The surprise inside the cupcake was really nice. Yum!

  4. I love the swirly icing - I need to give two-tone icing a try! The red glitter stuff on top really finishes them off nicely.