9 Creative Peppermint Recipes for the Holiday Season

peppermint candies

Peppermint candies | iStock.com

Out with the pumpkin, in with the peppermint. As the cooler temperatures set in and the fall season comes to a close, it’s time to make a shift in our preferred desserts, too. Pumpkin might steal the show up until Thanksgiving, but it’s all peppermint and eggnog after the leftover turkey is gone.

While the candy canes and obligatory peppermint bark are nice and all, there’s only so many chocolate bars and sticks of sugar we can eat. If you’re looking to get your peppermint fix another way, there are plenty of creative ways to do it. Chopped up candy canes can become the crunchy star in a number of baked desserts, and extract can be used for a smooth texture while still conjuring up the winter holiday season on your taste buds. Whether you’re in the mood for a cupcake, a trifle, or a cocktail, we’ve got the recipes to get your peppermint on.

1. Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

One chocolate cupcake frosted and decorated for the holidays

Peppermint mocha cupcakes | iStock.com/rojoimages

Starbucks might make you think they’ve cornered the market on peppermint mocha flavors, but they can’t give you this delectable cupcake with deep chocolate flavoring, a touch of coffee, and peppermint to top it all off. These cupcakes from Sally’s Baking Addiction combine both the coffee and peppermint flavors. Just in case there isn’t enough to sink your teeth into, you’ll top each one with a drizzle of semisweet chocolate and crushed candy canes. They’ll look almost too pretty to eat — but we doubt you’ll be able to resist.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 heaping tablespoon instant coffee
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Salt, to taste

For decorating the cupcakes

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • Crushed candy canes

Directions: To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, and set aside.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring to combine between each interval. You can also do this on the stove. When completely melted, stir in the instant coffee and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract until smooth. Add the cooled butter and chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth.

Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until mixture is just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: With an electric or stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more cream if it becomes too thick. If it’s too sweet for your liking, add ¼ teaspoon salt.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Right before serving, drizzle with melted chocolate and top with crushed candy canes.

2. Peppermint Meringues

Meringue cookies

Meringue cookies | iStock.com/funkybg

Meringues can be fussy to make, but their light and airy texture are worth it for the holidays. These cookies are made even more festive with a touch of peppermint, and a dose of food coloring to fit the festive time of year. If you’ve always wanted to give these classics a try, Food Network provides the perfect tips for how to make your first batch.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • Pinch fine salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Red food coloring, preferably gel

Directions: Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 250 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. While beating, add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in the peppermint.

Fold the top of a pastry bag fitted with a round tip over and down a few inches. Dip a paintbrush in the food coloring. Starting inside the pastry tip, brush a stroke of food coloring from the tip to the top of the bag. Repeat with 3 more evenly spaced strokes. Fill the bag with the meringue; try to spoon it directly into the center so as not to smudge the food coloring. Pipe 1-inch-diameter mounds of meringue spaced 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until the meringues are no longer glossy and feel light and dry when picked up, about 1 hour. Open the oven for a few minutes, then turn it off and shut the door. Leave the meringues in the oven until they are completely dry inside, about 2 hours. The meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

3. Peppermint Pound Cake

baked whole marble cake

Pound cake | iStock.com/xtrekx

If you love peppermint but aren’t sure your guests share your enthusiasm, this pound cake recipe from Nancy Creative is worth a shot. The cake itself is light on peppermint flavor, but is enhanced by the creamy glaze you’ll spread over the top. Though peppermint is definitely the star, it’s not an in-your-face offender in this case.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the glaze

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup marshmallow creme
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 3 crushed candy canes, for garnish

Directions: To make the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt or tube pan.

In a large bowl, blend sugar and softened butter. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition. Alternate adding flour and milk to the mixture, combining well after each addition. Add peppermint and vanilla extracts, and stir until blended. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 70 to 80 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then removing it from the pan and allowing it to cool completely.

While the cake cools, prepare the glaze. Blend the butter and marshmallow creme together until smooth, then add peppermint extract and mix well. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk and blend together until smooth.

To serve, spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. You may have some left over. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, if desired, before serving.

4. Peppermint Twist Cheesecake

Traditional Christmas White Chocolate Peppermint

Peppermint cheesecake | iStock.com/arinahabich

If you prefer your holiday desserts to be on the rich and decadent side, Epicurious has you covered with this recipe for a peppermint cheesecake. You’ll make a crust out of crumbled chocolate wafers, then add a traditional cheesecake filling with a touch of peppermint extract and a dose of crushed candy canes to keep each bite interesting. An extra topping gets added in the last stages of baking. Though this cheesecake takes some effort, the beauty is that it can be made a day ahead of time — perfect for events where you know you’ll be scrambling.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-ounce) box chocolate wafer cookies
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ⅓ cup 1-inch-diameter hard red-and-white-striped peppermint candies, crushed

For the topping

  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Additional peppermint candies

Directions: Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with aluminum foil. Finely grind cookies with sugar in processor. Add butter, process to blend. Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate crust while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in half and half, then vanilla and peppermint extracts. Stir in crushed peppermint candies. Pour filling into crust.

Bake cheesecake until filling is set in center and edges are puffed, about 50 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Stir sour cream, sugar, and extracts in small bowl to blend. Pour mixture over hot cheesecake, covering completely. Return cheesecake to oven and bake until top begins to set, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Using small knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Garnish cake with peppermint candies.

5. Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream

whoopie pie, decorated with peppermint candy crush

Chocolate cookies with peppermint buttercream filling | iStock.com/leekris

The homemade fudge cookies are good on their own, but topped with a buttery rich frosting mixed with peppermint throughout, they’ll be unbeatable. Check out this recipe from I Heart Naptime for the chocolatey, minty bite you’ve been searching for.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the buttercream

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2½ to 3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • ½ cup candy cane dust, sifted
  • Crushed candy canes for rolling, optional

Directions: To make the cookies, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute, stirring after heating. Continue to melt in 30-second intervals until fully melted and smooth. Put aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla, then also set aside. With an electric or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugars, scraping down the sides of the bowl every 10 seconds or so.

Mix in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate in a steady stream, beating until fully combined. Reduce to a slow speed, and slowly add the dry ingredients. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. At every step of the mixing process, be careful not to overmix.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a slightly flattened ball, placing on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies have just begun to set. These will firm up as they cool, the blogger notes.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter for 1 minute with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Reduce speed to low, then add 2½ cups of sifted powdered sugar. As sugar becomes combined, increase speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 1 tablespoon of cream or milk. Beat mixture for about 1 minute, then manually stir in the candy cane dust. The buttercream can be made thicker by adding more powdered sugar, or thinned out by adding tablespoon of milk or cream.

To assemble the sandwiches, frost the bottom of a cooled cookie and top with another. If you prefer, roll the edges in crushed candy canes for added decoration.

6. Peppermint Semifreddo

peppermint semifreddo

Peppermint semifreddo | iStock.com/leekris

Semifreddo is an Italian dessert that’s half frozen, so it’s somewhat like an ice cream, somewhat like an airy pudding. This version from Martha Stewart incorporates peppermint liqueur for an adult dessert, along with crushed candy canes for a bit of added flavor and crunch. If the dropping temperatures haven’t quenched your hunger for cold desserts, this one is perfect for the season.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces peppermint candy, plus more for serving
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 9 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons peppermint liqueur
  • Chocolate sauce, or desired chocolate sauce

Directions: Using a rolling pin, finely crush 5 tablespoons of candy between the two sheets of parchment paper. Place cream in a medium bowl; whisk in crushed candy, and whip until stiff peaks form. Chill until ready to use. Roughly crush remaining 3 tablespoons candy; set aside.

Prepare an ice bath. In a large metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisk egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar until pale. Add liqueur; whisk vigorously until mixture is thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to ice bath; whisk until cool.

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisk egg whites and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Attach bowl to mixer, and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form.

Fold the egg-white mixture into the egg-yolk mixture one-third at a time. Fold in the whipped-cream mixture. Spoon mixture into six serving dishes, layering it with reserved crushed candy. Freeze until firm, at least 1 ½ hours.

Serve with chocolate sauce and peppermint candy on the side.

7. Chocolate Peppermint Trifle

smashed up some dandy canes

Crushed candy canes | iStock.com/AHPhotoswpg

Trifles get their share of glory in the summer when they’re layered with light cakes, fresh berries, and cream. However, winter has its own versions to bring to the party, like this one from One Creative Mommy. The wonderful part about this recipe is that you can take several shortcuts, including making a chocolate cake from a boxed mix. With all the other wonderful flavors in the bowl, no one is even going to notice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cake, baked and cooled
  • 1 large box of chocolate pudding, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 large tub of whipped topping
  • ½ to 1 package Andes peppermint crunch baking chips
  • 5 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions: Cut the cooled cake into bite-sized cubes, covering the bottom of your bowl with cake pieces. Top with half of the prepared pudding, then half of the whipped topping. Sprinkle with candy cane pieces and peppermint bits.

Repeat the layers, ending with the sprinkled peppermint on top of the whipped topping.

8. White Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies

Cup of hot chocolate and brownie with candy cane

Peppermint brownies | iStock.com/liveslow

If you haven’t had enough peppermint bark in your life, this is the next best thing. The brownie recipe from Real Simple has quick directions for making brownies from scratch, topped with a white chocolate and peppermint candy coating. If you really want to amp up the peppermint flavor, consider adding a touch of extract to the brownie mix itself.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • cup sugar
  • large eggs
  • teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • teaspoon canola oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped peppermint candies

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.

Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares.

9. Peppermintini

Golden Dream is a cocktail that contains Galliano, Cointreau

Creamy martini | iStock.com/bLAZER76

We’ve got you covered for dessert so far, but what about the cocktail hour? If you’re hoping to serve drinks that represent the holiday flavors, you don’t have to stop with just the eggnog. The blogger at A Spicy Perspective offers up a recipe for a creamy dessert martini chock full of that peppermint flavor. If you’d prefer to drink your calories this time of year, do it with this one.

Ingredients:

  • 4 peppermint candy canes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces white chocolate liqueur
  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces half-and-half
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions: In a large resealable plastic bag, place candy canes or peppermint candies. Then pound with a rolling pin or heavy skillet until coarsely crushed. You can also do this in your food processor.

Mix the sugar and water in a small shallow bowl until well blended. Dip the rim of a martini glass in the sugar water mixture, then into the crushed candies to lightly coat.

Fill cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add the remaining drink ingredients, shaking well until mixed and chilled. Strain into the glass, and serve immediately.

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