Grinch Cupcakes With A Heart Inside

How the Grinch stole Christmas has always been one of my favorites! I love the book, the TV special and the movies! So this year I’ve decided to try out a whole bunch of Grinch-themed Christmas ideas. Including these Grinch cupcakes with a heart inside that are so cute I couldn’t resist!

Grinch cupcakes with a heart inside

So…I’m on a bit of a How The Grinch Stole Christmas kick this year.

Making this Grinch bingo game was so much fun, I decided to do some other Grinch-y projects, too.

Then I saw these really cute Grinch cupcakes on Pinterest but couldn’t find a source for the recipe. So I decided I had to figure it out myself.

While I was searching for that recipe, I found this one that had a heart baked into the middle of the cupcake. How awesome is that?

So of course, since I always to have do a little “extra”, I decided to make Grinch cupcakes with a heart inside and put the Grinch face on top!

Which means that this recipe takes way longer to make than most of my recipes do.

It’s not particularly hard. But there are a ton of steps! (Unless you take the easy way out…but more on that later).

grinch cupcakes

However, I think the end result is so cute, it’s worth it!

Festive Christmas Ideas Blog Hop

Before we get started, there’s even more!

This is day 6 of our Festive Christmas Ideas blog hop. And you know what that means? Lots more ideas for you to check out at the bottom of the post (in this case, Christmas movie-related ideas).

festive christmas ideas

Welcome back to year 6 of our Festive Christmas Event where we team up with a bunch of talented blogging friends to bring you a plethora of creative ways to celebrate your holiday season.

We will be baking some cookie recipes for you, sharing some party games, making some handmade gifts, doing some ornament crafting, and sharing our Christmas movies family fun. There will be breakfast recipes and as always our decorated Christmas Trees which is always a fun tour of homes.

You will find new ideas every Monday and Wednesday between Oct. 19th through Nov. 18th.

You can see all of my 2020 holiday posts HERE.

Scroll all the way down to find all the ideas linked at the end.

Grinch Cupcakes Ingredients

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Here’s your shopping list:

  • Dairy: unsalted butter, buttermilk
  • Baking Supplies: cake flour, all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder
  • Sugar: granulated sugar, icing sugar
  • Spices: salt
  • Eggs: 3 large ones
  • Food coloring: neon green gel food coloring (I used the Betty Crocker kind that comes in a box of 4 from the grocery story), red gel food coloring*, black gel food coloring*, white gel food coloring* (optional) – you can also make your own green by combining yellow and blue (see below for more details).
  • Flavoring: vanilla extract
  • Vinegar: distilled white vinegar
  • Limes: Key Limes work the best since they are a little less bitter, but regular limes are fine if that’s all you have access to
  • Candy eyes (optional) – I used these ones*, but you can pipe on the eyes in you prefer

Unless you prefer the easy way out (no judgement…I promise):

  • make a red velvet cake mix to cut the hearts out of – Since you won’t need a whole box for the hearts, you’ll have some batter left over for some extra cupcakes
  • get a white vanilla cake mix for the cupcakes and add the neon green food coloring before baking (or just leave them white if you prefer)
  • Buy pre-made buttercream icing – you can either get it in the colors you need, or add the food coloring yourself following the directions below.

Then you can follow the instructions on the box to make the cakes, and skip right down to the decorating instructions.

Equipment

  • mixer with a paddle attachment and mixing bowl
  • 1 9-inch cake pans
  • parchment paper (optional)
  • 3 small bowls
  • 4 medium bowls
  • spatula
  • wire cooling rack
  • small heart cookie cutter – I used the second smallest size in this set*. If you want the heart to be completely buried inside the cupcake, use the smallest one.
  • 12-cup muffin tin
  • 12 cupcake liners – I used white paper liners to bake the cupcakes in because the green from the cupcake shows up well.
  • juicer
  • grater – this type* is my favorite grater. It works really well and you never accidentally grate your fingers!
  • piping bags
  • piping tips: 2A, 18, 2, 6 (optional) – only required in you are piping on the eyes
  • piping coupler

The Prep Work

Heat the oven to 350℉.

Take the butter, eggs, buttermilk and cream cheese out of the refrigerator a few hours ahead of time. Making the cupcakes with these ingredients at room temperature will result in light, airy cupcakes and fluffy icing.

Grease a 9″ cake pan or line the bottom with parchment paper.

I like to use parchment paper because it makes it so much easier to get the cake out of the pan.

To do this trace around the bottom of your cake pan onto the parchment paper. Cut out the circle and put it in the bottom of the pan.

Put cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

If you are using paper cupcake liners, the color from the cupcake batter tends to wash out any pattern on the liner.

So I like to use plain white ones to bake the cupcakes in and then add more decorative ones around them after they are cooked.

How To Make Red Velvet Cake Hearts

small hearts being cut out of a red velvet cake layer

The Easy Way

If you’re taking the easy way out, just bake a red velvet cake mix following the instructions on the box.

Then cut the hearts out with a cookie cutter after it has cooled.

You’ll only need one relatively thin layer for the hearts, so you’ll have some left over to make a cake or some cupcakes with.

To Make Red Velvet Cake From Scratch

Beat ¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar and an egg with the mixer until they are light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).

Mix in about ½ teaspoon of red gel food coloring.

Then add 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder.

If it doesn’t look red enough, you can add more food coloring. But be careful not to put in too much or it can add a bitter flavor to the cake.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of cake flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture mixing at low speed to start and then increasing to medium until the flour is combined.

Add ¼ cup of buttermilk to the creamed butter also starting at low speed and then increasing to medium speed. Beat until it is combined.

Repeat this process with the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by another ¼ cup of buttermilk, followed by the last 1/3 of the flour mixture.

Mix in ½ teaspoon vanilla until combined.

Then add 1 Tablespoon white vinegar and beat until combined.

Finally add 1½ teaspoons baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into a 9″ cake pan.

Bake at 350℉ for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the wire rack.

Move the cake onto a flat surface with the baked side up (This is the side that has a slight crust on it). It is easier to cut out the hearts cleanly this way.

Or if you prefer, you can cut off the crust (I don’t bother).

Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut 12 hearts out of the cake. Put them on a plate and set aside.

How To Make Grinch Cupcakes With A Heart Inside

The Easy Way

If you’re doing the easy way, mix up a white cake mix following the instructions on the box.

Mix in ½ teaspoon of neon green food coloring.

Spoon the cake mix into lined muffin tins and push a red velvet heart into the center of each one

Then bake in cupcake tins as directed on the box.

Before continuing, put a small pencil mark at the front of each cupcake so you know which way the heart is facing. You’ll need this later to put the Grinch face on the right side.

How To Bake Key Lime Cupcakes From Scratch

green key lime cupcake batter being mixed

Grate 1 Tablespoon of lime zest.

Then juice the limes to get ¼ cup of lime juice.

In a small bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix ¾ cup buttermilk, ¼ cup lime juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the mixer, beat butter, sugar and lime zest on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).

Add an egg and beat until it is combined, scraping the sides with a spatula when necessary.

Do the same with another egg.

Mix in ¼ teaspoon neon green gel food coloring until the color is evenly distributed.

Reduce the speed on the mixer to low.

Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until it is combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula when necessary.

Then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until it is combined, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Repeat the process with the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk mixture and then the last 1/3 of the flour mixture.

To prevent the cupcakes from getting tough, only beat as much as is necessary to combine the ingredients.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 full.

Hearts being pushed into the green cupcake batter

Then push one of the red velvet hearts down into the center of each cupcake.

Bake at 350℉ for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted beside the hearts comes out clean.

Move the muffin tin to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool completely.

The cupcakes with the heart inside after they have been baked

Now, you’ll see a heart in the cupcake when you cut it open the right way.

Marking the front of the cupcake with a pencil

Before continuing, mark the front side of the cupcake liner with a pencil.

This will let you know later which side the heart is facing toward so you can put the Grinch face in the correct location.

You can make the mark under the cupcake rather than on the side if you don’t want anyone to see it.

How To Make Buttercream Icing

Buttercream icing in a bowl

The Easy Way

The easy way to make buttercream frosting is not to make it at all. You can buy it already made and then add the color as directed below.

I have tried the pre-made buttercream icing from Whole Foods bakery and it was delicious. But there are lots of options available, so just find one you like.

How To Make Buttercream Frosting From Scratch

Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) butter into ½ inch chunks

In the mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low.

Then add 3 to 4 cups of icing sugar (depending on how thick you like your icing) to the mixture in batches. Wait until the previous addition is completely combined before adding the next one.

Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy and pale in color.

Then mix in 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Using clear vanilla will keep the icing looking whiter.

How To Decorate Grinch Cupcakes

The first step is to divide the icing into 4 bowls (which will be 4 colors of icing):

  • First, move about 2/3 of the icing into the first bowl (this will be for the green icing).
  • Then move a small scoop of the remaining icing into the second bowl (this will be black for the eye brows so you don’t need very much).
  • Next move a larger scoop of the remaining icing into the third bowl (this will remain white for the Santa hat trim).
  • Move the remaining icing into the fourth bowl (this will be for the red icing).

To make sure you have enough of each color of icing, only make one color at a time.

Then pipe it onto the cupcakes before making the next one.

That way if you run out, you can use some of the icing from the other bowls to finish the layer.

Make Green Icing

Lime green buttercream icing in a bowl

To make the head of the Grinch on the cupcake, we’re going to need some lime green icing.

We’ll make this in the first bowl (that has the most icing in it).

Add in ½ teaspoon Betty Crocker neon green gel food coloring.

If it’s not bright enough green, try adding some more (but not too much or it will add a bitter flavor to your icing).

If you don’t have neon green food coloring, you can make your own by adding 2 or 3 drops of blue food coloring with 15 to 20 drops of yellow food coloring. Then adjust the color as necessary.

Remember that food coloring usually gets darker as it sits, so don’t make the color too dark.

Pipe the Grinch Head Onto The Cupcake

Green icing being piped onto the top of the cupcakes with hearts in them

Put a large round tip (I used Wilton 2A) onto a piping bag.

Fill the bag with the lime green icing.

Then start at the outer edge of the cupcake and circle around it two or three times making smaller circles as you go until the top of the cupcake is completely covered.

Repeat for the rest of the cupcakes. If you run out of green icing, take some from the other bowls.

Make Red Icing

red buttercream icing in a bowl

Getting true red icing is quite difficult since mixing red with white often comes out pink.

The best way I’ve found to fix this is to get the right kind of food coloring.

I’ve tried a few different brands, and this one* from Americolor produces the best red with the least amount of food coloring.

(I have never been successful getting a true red color using the food coloring that you buy at the grocery store.)

We’re going to make this in the bowl that has the next largest amount of icing in it.

Mix in about 1/8 teaspoon of AmeriColor Super Red food coloring.

If it doesn’t look red enough, try adding a bit more. But don’t add too much since it can affect the flavor of the icing.

Also keep in mind that the color will darken as it sits.

Pipe The Santa Hat Onto The Grinch Head

Red santa hat being piped onto the top of the green Grinch icing

Now we’re going to pipe Santa hats on top of the green frosting using the same round tip as you did for the green icing.

To do this, start at about the second green icing circle.

Red Santa hat icing on top of green icing after it has been piped

Then pipe around in tight circles going up to a point, like you would if you were making a soft ice cream cone.

(Optional) Whiten The Icing

This is an optional step if you want your Santa hat trim to be whiter.

Since buttercream icing isn’t pure white (especially if you used brown vanilla), you can add some white food coloring* to lighten it up the remaining icing a bit.

It won’t become pure white, but you can get it to be more of any ivory color. Which will look quite white beside the red.

Add this to the bowl with the larger spoonful of icing in it. You won’t need much food coloring since there isn’t much frosting in this bowl.

Pipe On The Santa Hat Trim

White icing being piped around the bottom of the red Santa hat icing

Add a small star-shaped tip (I used Wilton tip 18) to the end of a piping bag.

Then pipe white trim around the bottom of the red Santa hat so that it covers the join between the red and green icing.

A white ball being piped onto the top of the Grinch cupcake Santa hat

Then add a little ball of white icing at the top of the hat.

If you are making your own eyes, switch the piping tip to a small round one (like a Wilton 6). Then make two circles close together on the green icing just below the Santa hat. Remember to do this on the side where you made the pencil mark on the cupcake liner.

Make Black Icing

Black butter cream icing in a bowl

Making black icing is kind of like red.

It’s very difficult to turn white into pure black.

And the type of food coloring you use really makes a difference.

I find that AmeriColor Super Black* comes the closest without needing to use a whole bottle of food coloring.

Add a small amount of the black food coloring to the last bowl of icing.

If it still looks grey, add some more. But not too much or the flavor of the icing will change.

Also, black icing definitely gets darker so it will look blacker on the cupcakes than it does in the bowl.

Pipe On The Grinch Face

Green Grinch cupcakes with eyes and eyebrows being piped on with black icing

Add a small round tip (Wilton 2) to a piping bag and fill it with black icing.

If you are making the eyes with icing, add a black dot in the middle of each of the white dots you made earlier.

The Grinch cupcake with the pencil mark on the front to make sure the eyes are facing in the same direction as the heart

(Having said that, I usually cheat and use these candy eyes so I don’t have to make them. Don’t forget to put them on the side where the heart will be facing forward.)

Then add an eye brow over top of each eye.

Making them slant in towards each other makes the face look a little meaner.

how the grinch stole Christmas cupcake

Woo hoo! You’re finally done!

But I think they’re cute enough that they’re worth all the effort.

grinch cupcakes with a heart inside

Grinch Cupcakes With A Heart Inside

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Decorating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Author: Wanda Simone

Ingredients

Red Velvet Hearts

  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cups plus 2 Tablespoons cake flour
  • ½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • teaspoons baking soda

Lime Cupcakes

  • 1 Tablespoon lime zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice 6 or 7 key limes or 2 regular limes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon neon green gel food coloring

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
  • 3 to 4 cups icing sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Decorate The Cupcakes

  • 24 candy eyes optional
  • neon green gel food coloring
  • red gel food coloring
  • black gel food coloring
  • white gel food coloring optional

Equipment

  • mixer and mixing bowl with paddle attachment
  • 1 9-inch cake pan
  • parchment paper (optional)
  • 3 small bowls
  • 4 medium bowls
  • Spatula
  • wire cooling rack
  • small heart cookie cutter
  • 12 cup muffin tin
  • 12 cupcake liners
  • juicer
  • grater
  • piping bags
  • piping tips: 2A, 18, 2, 6 (optional) – 6 is only required if you are piping on the eyes
  • piping coupler

Instructions

How to Make Red Velvet Cake Hearts

  • Heat the oven to 350° F
  • Grease a 9″ cake pan (or line the bottom with parchment paper).
  • Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs with the mixer until they are light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).
  • Mix in about 1 teaspoon of the red food coloring and beat until the color has been evenly distributed.
  • Add the cocoa to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until combined.
  • Then mix in half of the buttermilk.
  • Add the next third of the flour, followed by the other half of the buttermilk and then the last third of the flour, beating until combined between each addition.
  • Add vanilla, vinegar and baking soda to the shortening mixture in that order, mixing in between each addition.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pans.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
  • Use a small heart cookie cutter to cut heart shapes from the cake. Cover and set aside.

How To Make Lime Cupcakes

  • Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • Grate 1 Tablespoon of lime zest.
  • Then juice the limes to get ¼ cup of lime juice.
  • In a small bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix ¾ cup buttermilk, ¼ cup lime juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • In the mixer, beat butter, sugar and lime zest on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).
  • Add the first egg and beat until it is combined, scraping the sides with a spatula when necessary.
  • Do the same with the second egg.
  • Mix in ¼ teaspoon neon green gel food coloring until the color is evenly distributed.
  • Reduce the speed on the mixer to low.
  • Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until it is combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula when necessary.
  • Then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until it is combined, scraping down the sides if necessary.
  • Repeat the process with the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk mixture and then the last 1/3 of the flour mixture.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 full.
  • Then push one of the red velvet hearts down into the center of each cupcake.
  • Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted beside the hearts comes out clean.
  • Move the muffin tin to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool completely.
  • Put a pencil mark on the front of every cupcake liner so you know which way the heart is facing.

How To Make Buttercream Icing

  • Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) butter into ½ inch chunks
  • In the mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low.
  • Then add 3 to 4 cups of icing sugar (depending on how thick you like your icing) to the mixture in batches. Wait until the previous addition is completely combined before adding the next one.
  • Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy and pale in color.
  • Then mix in 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

How To Decorate Grinch Cupcakes

  • Divide the icing into 4 bowls:
    – move about 2/3 of the icing into the first bowl (for the green icing)
    – move a small scoop of the remaining icing into the second bowl (for the black icing)
    – move a larger scoop of the remaining icing into the third bowl (for the white icing)
    – move the rest of the remaining icing into a fourth bowl (for the red icing)

Make Green Icing

  • In the bowl with the most icing in it, add ½ teaspoon neon green gel food coloring. Mix until evenly distributed. Add more coloring if needed.

Pipe the Grinch Head Onto The Cupcake

  • With a large round piping tip (Wilton 2A), pipe green icing onto the cupcake starting at the outer edge and circling inwards until the top of the cupcake is completely covered.

Make Red Icing

  • In the bowl with the next largest amount of icing, add about ⅛ teaspoon of AmeriColor super red food coloring. Mix until evenly distributed. Add more coloring if required.

Pipe The Santa Hat Onto The Grinch Head

  • With the same round tip as above, pipe the red icing on top of the green icing starting at about the second circle. Create tight circles going up to a point, like you would if you were making a soft ice cream cone.

(Optional) Whiten The Icing

  • To make the white icing whiter, add a small amount of white food coloring to the bowl with the larger spoonful of frosting in it.

Pipe On The Santa Hat Trim

  • With a small star-shaped tip (Wilton tip 18), pipe white trim around the bottom of the red Santa hat so that it covers the join between the red and green icing.
  • Then add a little ball of white icing at the top of the hat.
  • If you are making your own eyes, switch the piping tip to a small round one (like a Wilton 6). Then make two circles close together on the green icing just below the Santa hat. Remember to do this on the front of the cupcake (where the pencil mark is).

Make Black Icing

  • Add a small amount of AmeriColor super black food coloring to the last bowl of icing and mix until evenly distributed. Add more if necessary.

Pipe On The Grinch Face

  • Add the black icing to a piping bag with a small round tip (Wilton 2).
  • If you are making the eyes with icing, add a black dot in the middle of each of the white dots you made earlier.
  • If you are using candy eyes, put them on the green icing just below the Santa hat on the side of the Grinch where the pencil mark is.
  • Then add an eye brow over top of each eye with the black icing.

Notes

  • For the best texture, make sure to use cake flour and sift it before measuring for the red velvet cake. Regular flour does work, but the cake will be much heavier.
  • Using room temperature eggs and butter (or shortening) and then beating them with the sugar until they are light and fluffy will add air to the cake and prevent it from turning out too heavy and dense.
  • Bring the buttermilk to room temperature for the best results.
  • Grating the limes before juicing them makes the job much easier.
  • To prevent the cupcakes from getting tough, only beat the flour as much as is necessary to combine the ingredients.
  • Using clear vanilla will keep the icing looking whiter.
  • To make sure you have enough of each color of icing, only make one color at a time. Then pipe it onto the cupcakes before continuing to the next color. That way if you run out, you can use some of the icing from the other bowls to finish the layer.
  • If you don’t have neon green food coloring, you can make your own by adding 2 or 3 drops of blue food coloring with 15 to 20 drops of yellow food coloring. Then adjust the color as necessary.
  • Keep in mind that food coloring gets darker as it sits.
  • Use only as much food coloring as is necessary to get the right color since it can alter the taste of the frosting.
  • Making the eye brows slant in towards each other makes the Grinch face look meaner.
  • For an easier way to make this recipe, substitute red velvet cake mix for the hearts, white vanilla cake mix for the cupcakes and store-bought buttercream for the icing. Then follow the directions on the boxes to make the cupcakes and decorate as described above.
Nutrition Facts
Grinch Cupcakes With A Heart Inside
Amount Per Serving
Calories 12
% Daily Value*
Sodium 356mg15%
Protein 3g6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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