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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream

1-1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peppermint Buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until completely mixed.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until all clumps of flour have been dissolved.
5. Add milk and vanilla, and stir until batter is smooth and velvety. Pour into greased or lined muffin tins and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from heat.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes in tins, then remove and let cool outside of tins for at least 1 hour.
7. For Peppermint Buttercream, cream butter for 45-60 seconds. Add powdered sugar, and beat by hand, or with an electric mixer until mixture comes together and makes peaks. Add cream, peppermint extract, and food coloring if desired, and beat for 45-60 more seconds. Refrigerate until ready to use.
8. Once cupcakes are fully cooled, add Peppermint Buttercream. Serve with coffee or milk.
*These are good to serve on St. Patrick's day, or on Christmas. For Christmas, double the recipe, and for second batch of buttercream, use red food coloring instead of green.

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