Here at Taste HQ we’ve got a number of talented bakers and cooks, here to share some amazing recipes sure to bring magic to your kitchen this Christmas. Our resident baker, Jo, shares one of her family’s favourite treats for the festive season…
Christmas Spiced Cupcakes
One Christmas tradition that I always adhere to in our house is making the Christmas cake. Although it’s not strictly traditional, nowadays I bake a lighter cake, based on an American recipe that’s packed with cranberries, apricots, sour cherries and pecans.
You too can create your own tradition and swap the classic fruitcake, which I find can be a little heavy; for something new. This super simple cupcake recipe can be taken in two directions, both inspired by the classic tastes of Christmas.
The chocolate orange spice cakes echo the scents we associate with this time of year; full of rich, warm spice but with a hint of a citrusy tang. They’re full of flavour, and reminiscent of the much beloved chocolate orange, or the Satsuma in the toe of the stocking.
The chocolate peppermint cupcake is fresher and more frivolous – dark chocolate sponge and a creamy icing on top, laced with a cool hit of peppermint.
Depending on your level of skill, these can either be piped with buttercream on top, or simply swirled. You can then let your creativity run wild with the festive sprinkles and decorations that are currently in abundance!
Even Jo can't take her eyes off her festive creations!
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE
6oz/175g soft butter
6oz/175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
6oz/175g self-raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder mixed to a paste with 3 tbsp water (or more if it’s too thick to stir).
FOR THE CAKE FLAVOURINGS
Option 1: 2 tsp peppermint extract
Option 2: zest of a small orange, 1 tsp mixed spice, ½ tsp cinnamon
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM TOPPING
6oz/175g soft butter
12oz/350g icing sugar
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM FLAVOURINGS
Option 1: 2 tsp peppermint extract (to taste)
Option 2: zest of a small orange plus half the juice
Selection of sprinkles and Christmas decorations
TO MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE
1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and prepare a deep muffin tin with paper cases
2) Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy – you can either use an electric mixer for this, or beat by hand with a wooden spoon.
3) Add the eggs and half of the flour (this will stop the eggs from curdling) and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
4) Add the remaining flour, the cocoa mix and the mint flavouring or orange zest and spices (depending on which you’ve chosen) and beat until the mixture is thoroughly combined and even in colour. Be careful not to over mix at this stage or the cakes will be firm when baked.
5) Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin until the paper cases are approximately half to two thirds filled. Depending on the size of your cases the mixture should make 12-14 cakes.
6) Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cakes are springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tins to cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
TO MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM TOPPING & DECORATE THE CAKES
1) Beat together the butter, icing sugar and hot water until light and fluffy.
2) Add the mint extract or orange zest and juice and beat until you have a nice pale creamy icing.
3) Depending on your level of skill, either pipe the icing on top of the cakes or swirl with the back of a spoon. The amount of icing specified is enough to pipe all of the cakes, this could be halved if you’d prefer to swirl them (or have a less sweet tooth!)
4) Top with your chosen decorations – I’ve used festive sprinkles and ready made decorations here.