Magic Christmas Elf Cupcakes

Today, Cookie, our Elf on the Shelf brought a special cupcake set and a recipe. 

I discovered the idea of planting mints in "snow" (oatmeal) and sprinkle it some glitter, so over night there would magically grow candy canes, and I was intrigued. however, I don't like oatmeal, plus I thought it's a pity to use food and then throw it away. So at first I was going to use Oreo crumbs instead of otameal and just call it what it is, "earth", sprinkle it with edible glitter, and voilà! But hey, why not making it a real cake? Brownies? Individual cupcakes,...?

But let's not get ahead. This is what the unboxing revealed...

Enchanted rocks, Elf Cupcake Seeds, Christmas Tree Fertilizer and Magic Stars. Wow!

We used Chef John's recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes - without the red food coloring, which makes them just yummy, fluffy chocolate cupcakes. I mean, which makes them very special Christmas Elf Cupcakes!!

To make these cupcakes magical and christmassy you'll need the following, additional ingredients:

  • Red/White mints
  • Red (and green) M&Ms
  • Edible Sprinkles
  • Candy Canes
  • Flat vanilla cookies like shortbread
  • Edible googly eyes
  • Mini pretzels


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl until combined.
  3. Place butter and sugar into the work bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape down attachment and bowl. Add eggs into butter-sugar mixture, one at a time, mixing the first egg in thoroughly before adding the second. Scrape down sides of bowl as you work.
  4. Beat buttermilk and vinegar into moist ingredients, followed by vanilla .
  5. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and gently whisk by hand until batter is smooth.
  6. Spoon just enough batter into prepared muffin cups to cover the bottom.
  7. Place enchanted rocks and Christmas elf seeds on the bottom of the muffin cups.
  8. Spoon remaining batter into cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
  9. Sprinkle with Christmas Tree Fertilizer and Magic Stars
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. 
  11. Let sit in the pan for 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting
  12. Wait several hours or overnight before tasting!
I did steps 1 - 6 while Colin was taking his shower, then he did the most important part of the job and planted the special ingredients: 

After step 8, Colin went ahead and sprinkled the batter with Christmas Tree Fertilizer and Magic Stars:

As you can see, time was getting tight, so he was already in his jacket, almost ready to leave. All done, in the oven / to school you go!

After baking, I inserted this cone thingie to make room for the Candy Canes that were  going to grow from the mints:

Look how adorable they turned out!

The other cupcakes (the ones containing M&Ms) were frosted with chocolate /hazelnut spread and decorated as reindeer:

Frost with chocolate / hazelnut spread. Not Nutella. I quit Nutella for two reasons: a) the amount of sugar it contains and b) the fact they use palm oil to make it. Instead I make my own or purchase some pricey certifiably ecologically sustainable version. 

"Glue" on cookies, M&Ms, pretzels and eyes. If the frosting isn't sticky enough, you may add some royal icing, but if you're not going to transport them by bicycle (like I did, ugggh) it won't be necessary.

Nice job, Cookie!

Now off to the Christmas tree lightning event and deliver those goodies!