Christmas is right around the corner, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s still warm down here in South Florida, but it’s winter, damn it! And what’s more wintertime-like than a cup of hot cocoa? It’s not something I have any other time of year, so it really gets me into that Christmas mood. That’s why I was so psyched when I found this recipe for Hot Cocoa Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache and topped with frosting made with Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix plus a marshmallow garnish? Oh yeah! I grew up on Swiss Miss hot chocolate, so there’s some nostalgia there for me. I can’t wait to try this recipe!
Dark chocolate cupcakes with thick chocolate ganache filling and fluffy hot cocoa frosting.
This recipe for Hot Cocoa Cupcakes has quite a few ingredients, but I’m happy to say they were all easy to find at my usual grocery store. My pre-shopping pantry check showed me that I had a lot of ingredients on hand. My pantry was stocked with all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and granulated sugar.
I usually have vanilla extract and Dutch process cocoa powder, but I didn’t quite have enough of either for this recipe. I had to buy those plus the perishable ingredients. Unsalted butter, whole milk, heavy whipping cream, sour cream, and eggs were all easy to find in the dairy case.
The baking aisle had semi-sweet baking chocolate, Dutch process cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. The Swiss Miss cocoa mix was with the coffee and tea, and I chose a canister instead of the individual serving envelopes. I just wasn’t sure the envelopes would have enough of the cocoa mix.
Lastly, I had to find marshmallows. I was thinking they would be on the candy aisle, but I couldn’t find them. Instead, they were on the aisle with the juice, dried fruit, and stationery. I never would have found them if I hadn’t asked!
This recipe is broken down into four sections: cupcakes, chocolate ganache, frosting, and assembly. The recipe walked me through everything pretty clearly.
Making the Chocolate Cupcakes
The only thing that confused me was step 7, adding the dissolved espresso powder. Dissolved in what? I went back to the blog post to see if I could figure it out. It turns out the recipe displayed in the post had been corrected to add the espresso powder to step 2. The espresso powder should have been sifted into the dry ingredients.
It looks like the printed version that I used had not been updated, but everything was fine. I had not added all of the dry ingredients yet. I was able to sift in the espresso powder to what I had left, and I didn’t have any problems with the batter.
The batter was supposed to fill the cups about 3/4 full, but mine only made it to halfway. I shrugged it off, wiped up my mess, and popped the muffin pan into the oven to bake. The cupcakes passed the toothpick test at 17 minutes, so I let them cool in the pan and then on a rack.
Making the Chocolate Ganache Filling
The ganache was definitely the easiest part of this recipe. All I had to do was heat the heavy whipping cream until it just began to boil. I chopped up the chocolate while it warmed, and paced it into a heat-proof mixing bowl.
Once the whipping cream had warmed up, I poured it over the chopped chocolate and left it to melt for a minute. Then I used a spoon to mix slowly until the white color of the whipping cream had disappeared. I ended up with what looked like thick chocolate syrup. The mixture needed to cool before I could use it, so I set it aside and began the frosting.
Making the Hot Cocoa Frosting
I’m not the greatest baker, and it showed in the frosting. It was easy to make, and there were tons of air bubbles in the frosting. I was so excited about using my new Russian ball piping tips that I didn’t notice until I looked at the photos. What did I do wrong? I used the whisk attachment to mix the frosting and I mixed it at too high of a speed.
Tip: The whisk attachment I chose adds air to whatever you’re mixing, so the paddle attachment I used to mix the batter with would have been a better choice (and vice versa). I also should have left the mixer on a low speed. I found a wonderful article on how to get bubbles out of buttercream frosting (and how to make it smooth in the first place).
I’m going to make sure I follow those tips in the future, and that means the very near future. These Hot Cocoa Cupcakes were so delicious that I decided to bake a few batches for Christmas gifts. I’ll be sure to update this post when I do and let you know if I was able to make smooth buttercream.
Assembling My Hot Cocoa Cupcakes
Assembling these cupcakes was very much like these Vanilla Maple Whiskey Cupcakes. I used a 1-inch biscuit cutter to core the cooled cupcakes. The ganache had cooled, and there was just enough to fill the newly-cored cupcakes.
Tip: The ganache is thin enough to flow/pour easily. I used a disposable piping bag without adding a piping tip to fill the cupcakes, but I had to work fast because. I cut the hole too large, and the ganache poured out fast without any pressure. Next time I will cut a smaller hole and enlarge it if needed.
Next, I loaded another piping bag with the hot cocoa frosting and began piping it on. I used a Russian ball piping tip to make a ruffle-like design before topping it with a large marshmallow. This tip was so much easier than my usual cupcake piping tips!
Tip: Here’s a link to an easy-to-follow Russian ball piping tip tutorial. The technique for the ruffles starts about one minute in. I used 2 to 3 back and forth twists without lifting the piping tip to create my ruffles. Leaving the piping tip on the surface of the cupcake instead of lifting it left a void for the marshmallow.
This recipe lists 30 minutes to prep and 18 minutes to cook, but no total time. The prep and cooking times add up 48 minutes, so that’s what I’m basing my rating on. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 18 minutes to prep the cupcakes (9 minutes to measure + 9 minutes to mix & pour batter)
- 17 minutes to bake the cupcakes
- 8 minutes to make the ganache (while the cupcakes baked)
- 8 minutes to start the frosting
- 12 minutes to finish the frosting
- 5 minutes to cool the cupcakes in the pan
- 7 minutes to cool the cupcakes on a rack
- 8 minutes to fill the cupcakes
- 12 minutes to frost and garnish with marshmallows
- 1 hour 7 minutes total
The cooking time listed lines up with mine, but the prep time goes way over even though I did some things concurrently, like making the ganache and starting on the frosting while the cupcakes baked. But I’m not mad about it because these cupcakes were so damn good!