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More Nigella recipes

Christmas Cupcakes

by . Featured in HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS
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Introduction

These beauties also make a very good alternative to mince pies. I buy the icing ready made and dyed (which is why it isn’t a very convincing colour for holly, let’s be frank) and use cranberries as the holly berries. The cake underneath is somewhere between chocolate and gingerbread. If you’re thinking of taking anything to friends’ houses, may I suggest these?

These beauties also make a very good alternative to mince pies. I buy the icing ready made and dyed (which is why it isn’t a very convincing colour for holly, let’s be frank) and use cranberries as the holly berries. The cake underneath is somewhere between chocolate and gingerbread. If you’re thinking of taking anything to friends’ houses, may I suggest these?

Christmas Cupcakes
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Makes: 12

Metric Cups
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 100 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 160 grams dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 125 millilitres boiling water
  • 75 grams dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 250 grams instant royal icing
  • 1 packet green ready-to-roll icing
  • 30 cranberries (for decoration)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 3 bittersweet chocolate (broken into pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2½ cups instant royal icing
  • 1 packet green ready-to-roll icing
  • 30 cranberries (for decoration)

Method

YOU WILL NEED: Small holly-leaf cutter with veining stamp, and a 12-bun muffin tin and papers.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating till all is used up.
  3. Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently, just until the chocolate’s melted. Fold this into the cake batter, but don’t overbeat. The mixture will be very thin, but don’t worry about that: just pour carefully into the waiting muffin cases and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, until each little cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.
  4. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then slip out the cakes in their papers and sit on a wire rack until completely cold.
  5. To ice them, make up the royal icing according to the packet instructions, or for the US, mix the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Beat with an electric mixer until icing forms soft peaks.
  6. Cover the tops of the cupcakes thickly. Cut out holly leaves and sit two on each cake, and then press on your berries, perhaps putting two on some, three on others.

YOU WILL NEED: Small holly-leaf cutter with veining stamp, and a 12-bun muffin tin and papers.

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating till all is used up.
  3. Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently, just until the chocolate’s melted. Fold this into the cake batter, but don’t overbeat. The mixture will be very thin, but don’t worry about that: just pour carefully into the waiting muffin cases and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, until each little cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.
  4. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then slip out the cakes in their papers and sit on a wire rack until completely cold.
  5. To ice them, make up the royal icing according to the packet instructions, or for the US, mix the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Beat with an electric mixer until icing forms soft peaks.
  6. Cover the tops of the cupcakes thickly. Cut out holly leaves and sit two on each cake, and then press on your berries, perhaps putting two on some, three on others.

Additional Information

NOTE FOR THE US: To ice the cupcakes you will need 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1½ tablespoons meringue powder. Mix the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Beat with an electric mixer until icing forms soft peaks.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE:
The cupcakes are best if iced and decorated on the day you eat them, leftovers can be stored for 1-2 days in an airtight container. The cupcakes can be baked 1-2 days ahead. When cold, store in an airtight container in a cool place until ready to ice.

FREEZE NOTE:
The un-iced cupcakes can also be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. To thaw the cupcakes, put them on a wire rack and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until at room temperature, then ice the cupcakes with the royal icing.

NOTE FOR THE US: To ice the cupcakes you will need 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar mixed with 1½ tablespoons meringue powder. Mix the confectioner's sugar and meringue powder in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons warm water. Beat with an electric mixer until icing forms soft peaks.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE:
The cupcakes are best if iced and decorated on the day you eat them, leftovers can be stored for 1-2 days in an airtight container. The cupcakes can be baked 1-2 days ahead. When cold, store in an airtight container in a cool place until ready to ice.

FREEZE NOTE:
The un-iced cupcakes can also be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. To thaw the cupcakes, put them on a wire rack and leave at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until at room temperature, then ice the cupcakes with the royal icing.

Tell us what you think

What 1 Other has said

  • I made these for Christmas Day, and they were delicious. Moist and chocolate-y, but with the mixed spice flavours as well. They'd be nice any time of the year for something different. I made my own royal icing, because that's just as easy as buying pre-made when you have the ingredients on hand. Definitely recommend!

    Posted by sayselizabeth on 25th December 2015
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