Starbucks Inspired Holiday Cupcakes

It's the Friday before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, and certainly not even a mouse. The kitchen was quiet and the counters clean and bare, after packaging up holiday goodies with care... Happy Friday! I've been up through the night baking, packaging, cleaning and now sitting down with a cup of coffee to share these sweet treats. Not too long ago, my office had a little holiday bake off. Being only a few weeks new on the job, I was thrilled to have a reason to bake for my new coworkers at the pharmacy. I can't even tell you how long it took me to decide what to make. Finally, because one of my coworkers is such a Starbucks fan and I've been known to rock my Starbucks gold card myself, I took note and it dawned on me. Make Starbucks Inspired Holiday Cupcakes. When the holidays arrive, Starbucks goes with the flow and offers various festive drinks for the season. That said, I decided to create a few cupcakes based on their popular holiday drinks and treats including... Cranberry Bliss Cupcakes, Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes, Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes and Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes. You don't even have to like coffee to enjoy these...

Once I decided what to make, I was excited to get started in the kitchen. It wasn't hard to build on the drinks as inspiration to come up with a cupcake version. But first, let's learn a bit more about these Starbucks inspired holiday flavors...

Cranberry Bliss Cupcakes

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar: A blondie cake base, topped with sweet cream cheese icing, tart dried cranberries and white orange drizzle. 
I made these cupcakes using a traditional vanilla cupcake studded with a little candied ginger, mini white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. To finish them off, I made a cream cheese frosting kissed with a bit of orange juice and orange zest, decorated with more dried cranberries and a piece of white chocolate bar.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte: Espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup and steamed milk. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices.
For this wildly popular flavor, I made a pumpkin spice cake with a touch of espresso. These were then frosted with a sweet buttercream frosting and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. When presented for the holiday bake off, I added a small piece of iconic green plastic straw.

Peppermint Mocha

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha: Espresso, steamed milk, mocha sauce and peppermint-flavored syrup. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and dark chocolate curls.
I knew I had to incorporate chocolate into my cupcake offering so it was easy to include these Peppermint Mocha cupcakes. The base is a chocolate mocha cake spiked with peppermint extract and bits of peppermint chocolate bits then crowned with fluffy peppermint mocha buttercream, more peppermint chocolate bits and a dark chocolate drizzle.

Caramel Apple Spice
Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice: Steamed, freshly pressed apple juice and cinnamon syrup. Topped with sweetened whipped cream ad caramel drizzle.
Last but not least, for those that didn't care for coffee drinks, I wanted to highlight a favorite drink Joel enjoys. This cupcake is made with a butter pecan spice cake that has minced fresh Granny Smith apples tossed in cinnamon sugar and a touch of applesauce stirred in. For a finishing touch, I frosted them with a cream cheese frosting, a buttery caramel drizzle and a toasted whole pecan.

I was so happy they came out well and made it to work okay (I brought 6 dozen cupcakes total!) . It helped that I got to work early to freshly frost and decorate them in the office before judging began. I set up my display tiers with the cupcakes and guess who won the holiday bake off? Yours truly. :)The winning grand prize for my Starbucks Inspired Holiday Cupcake Towers? A new hand mixer... which I an thrilled to receive so I can make more goodies for new coworkers.

With a busy holiday week coming up, please stay tuned to the recipes for these cupcakes all next week. Enjoy the weekend friends and happy eating!


  1. Wahoo - Congratulations on the win! I'll take a peppermint mocha please ; )

  2. You deserved to win, these all look awesome! I'll take two peppermint mochas, please :)

  3. So many cupcakes, so little time... congrats on the win!

  4. I think you deserve to win - all those cupcakes are gorgeous!