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Feliz Navidad! Orange Cupcakes with Mexican Hot Chocolate Buttercream

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Since I’m still recovering from surgery and can’t chew anything yet, of course all I can think about is food.  It’s Christmas, and all I want to do is bake.  I haven’t been able to make anything new for the last few days, so I’m going to share one of my all-time favorites from last year. 

Last year I made an amazing assortment of festive cupcakes to pass out to our firm’s best clients. 

For about three days, our whole house and garage was FULL of cupcakes!  I think I made 16 dozen or something crazy.  Each client’s sampler box included four flavors:  peppermint stick, gingerbread with orange-cream cheese frosting, double hot chocolate with marshmallows, and “Feliz Navidad” ~ an orange-cinnamon butter cake topped with Mexican hot chocolate buttercream. 

Have you ever experienced Mexican hot chocolate?  If not, you MUST!  It is HOT in every sense of the word.  Not too sweet, rich, dark, warm and cozy, it’s spiced up with dark cocoa powder, a touch of coffee, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.  This is by far my favorite cupcake ever.  (Regardless of how many times I say that.)

It’s something a little different, but distinctly festive.  It begins with yellow cake and chocolate frosting – the makings of many a favorite birthday cake. 

Feliz Navidad Cupcakes

Cinnamon-Orange Butter Cake


One “Golden Butter Recipe” yellow cake mix

Zest of one orange

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup orange juice (or the juice of one orange, with enough water added to equal 2/3 cup)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup softened butter (1 Stick)


Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl according to the box directions.

Divide batter into 24 lined cupcakes and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out with a few crumbs, but no wet batter sticking to it. 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Buttercream (slightly adapted from cupcake rehab)


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (or 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup shortening, which is what I usually do)

4 -5 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons – 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s special dark)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you like it

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (not coffee granules)


Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for 1-2 minutes until light & fluffy.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, coffee and 1 tablespoon milk. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Add 2 cups sugar and vanilla. Mix. Add the rest of the sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix for 4-5 minutes, at least, until fluffy, gradually adding a tablespoon more milk at a time, up to 1/4 cup total, if too thick.  If too thin, add up to 1 cup more powdered sugar. Continue blending until consistency is satisfactory.*

Frost completely cooled cupcakes and top with cinnamon red hot candies – seriously, DO NOT omit the red hots!   

These are ridiculous.  Easy and phenom. 

I’m sharing these with a baking circle for the 12 Days of Christmas Goodies at Mom’s Crazy Cooking ~ hop on over there to see MANY more amazing ideas! 


About kozubalk

Lawyer by day, baker by night, full time creative spirit.

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