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North Pole cupcakes.

December 12, 2011

I know I’ve been posting a few Christmas-y goodies, but no cupcakes. How is that possible? There are like 12 days until Christmas & I haven’t posted any Christmas cupcakes!? Well things are gonna change, as of right now. The funny thing about these is they’re a rip-off of a cupcake I saw in one of those little baking booklets on sale at the supermarket checkout line. I loved the idea of the red/white swirled cake & thick white frosting topped with crushed candy canes. But see, I’ve done that particular angle before (quite a bit, too, actually). So instead I used some of these Andes peppermint crunch baking chips that I bought back in October on top.

And of course, my grandma’s little vintage elves had to get in on the act. Are you prepared for the cuteness overload?

Super duper über cute. Those elves (or pixies?) are the coolest. I also have ones that are “candle huggers.” I think they were made by a company called Gilner in the 1940’s & 1950’s (and I think even some go back to the 30’s). These are from the ’40’s, when my grandparents were first married. Apparently they’re very collectible.

I kept the rest of the cupcake true to the original I’d seen, of course my own spin on it since I didn’t have their recipe. Peppermint twist “North Pole” cupcakes (topped with Andes Peppermint Crunch chips)! I bought this bag of Andes chips before Halloween… because I’m crazy. Well that & also because I knew I had to use them to bake with this year. I didn’t know at the time what I would make, but I knew it’d include those. Then I saw that little booklet of baking ideas with its adorable red & white striped cupcake on the cover. Brilliant. I could incorporate the Andes baking chips with red/white peppermint cupcakes- without having to use the tired old candy cane method! ‘Cause yeah, that’s cute & all, but let’s face it- it’s been done to death.

So I did what that little baking booklet did!

Or rather, my version of it.



  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • red food coloring (please remember to use a good quality NO-TASTE red food coloring!)
  • Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips (or crushed candy canes)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups; depending on how big your cupcake tins are, you can make between 8 and 12 (I got 12 but I could’ve easily filled mine more). Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the egg, mix it in slowly. Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add ⅓ of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.
  5. Scoop about ¼ – ½ of the batter into a separate bowl. Mix in the peppermint extract well, then mix in the red food coloring, drop by drop, until red color (not pink) is achieved.
  6. Spoon plain vanilla batter into baking cups, filling each about halfway. Add 2-4 teaspoons of the red batter to it & using a knife or toothpick, swirl & swish it around until there’s a swirled pattern. DO NOT THOROUGHLY MIX IT- you’ll end up with pink cupcakes, not red swirl. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. After frosting, sprinkle baking chips or crushed candy canes on top.

Elf not included.

The frosting tip is this one, and the frosting is a plain ol’ vanilla confectioner’s sugar buttercream (an Italian meringue or Swiss meringue would be nice too). For cupcakes like this, I prefer to use a plain white liner so that you can see the swirl through it, but do whatever works for you. And like I said, I seriously stress the no-taste red color. If you don’t use it, you might taste an unpleasant bitter or chemical-y flavor that will overpower the peppermint & vanilla. Some good choices are Wilton’s No-Taste Red gel food coloring and Americolor Super Red gel paste food coloring. Same goes for making red velvet cupcakes, although with the cocoa powder I find it isn’t as noticeable.

I told you I was all vintage inspired this season. So on the kitchen table, in addition to these lil’ pixie people, I used my grandma’s vintage Christmas tablecloth & some of my mom & grandma’s vintage Santa’s. My mother has a Santa collection that would make Martha Stewart cry; you need a certain kind of Kris Kringle? Ask her. She has a bunch that belonged to my great-grandmothers, my grandma, and ones that were hers from when she was a child. Not to mention the tons of them she’s gotten as gifts or bought herself over the years. She has every single type of St. Nick you could ever want- Victorian, Colonial, 1950’s, 1920’s, plastic, metal, plaster, hollow, solid, papier mache, German Santa’s, Irish Santa’s, folk Santa’s, traditional Santa’s, modern Santa’s, American Santa’s, Santa’s in cars, Santa’s on sleds, cat Santa’s, happy Santa’s, sad Santa’s, angry-looking Santa’s, tall Santa’s, tiny Santa’s, etc. I’m not joking. Any type of Santa you can imagine, she’s got. But I just chose to borrow some of the 40’s/50’s/60’s ones for my little retro display. It seemed they’d be more fitting with the tablecloth.

Even though my grandma isn’t here physically this Christmas, her things are all around & in that, she is here. Here are a few close ups of the tablecloth. It’s so cute. I’m going to try & look through some old pictures & see if I can find any of either my grandparents’ apartment or their house at Christmas with this on the table. I mean how amazing is this? So stylized. It’s right out of Christmas in Connecticut.

Basically, this all boils down to the fact that I love all things peppermint & candy cane-like, I love all things vintage and I love baking with them & using them as inspiration. Luckily, my family saved a lot of their fantastic vintage stuff for me to swoon over. I’ll never understand people who don’t like vintage items! What is WRONG with you people?! This stuff is phenomenal. They just don’t make things like this anymore. Not to mention, a quick look on eBay or Etsy & you’ll see, this stuff goes for quite a bit of money. So if you’re lucky enough to have it, you’re sitting on a goldmine. Especially the Gurley candles (which I have a TON of, for every holiday), some of them go for a fortune!

Not that I’d ever sell. But anyway, I do love seeing/hearing about other people’s Christmas goodies that have been in their family for ages (or at least a few years), so if you feel like sharing, please do! You can add links to pictures or stories or whatever you like in the comments. I’m a nosy bitch so humor me…

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  1. send me all of your peppermint recipes Please Mrs.Clause.LOVE YOOOOOU BOTH SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH.

  2. Angela… if you’re insinuating that I’m Mrs. Clause, I assure you I am not. I am neither old, nor gray-haired, nor “plump”… and I have no elves. Although my ex boyfriend was quite a bit shorter than me.

  3. Marilla,O No I’m Not Saying You Are Mrs.Claus I just like your cooking,and I can say that its REAL GOOD THAT YOU GOT REED OF HIM!!!!! I’m alone now also.So you can keep writting me and I’ll keep e-mailing you back.OK

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