Spiced Mocha Santa Hat Cupcakes

Christmas is just around the corner which means one thing…

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….Bailey is being forced into a whole range of ridiculous but adorable costumes :’)

It also means that our kitchen is filled with the delicious scent of Christmas baking – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are being added to just about everything!

These cupcakes are no exception with a rich Christmas spiced mocha flavour. I’ve topped them with a vibrant red buttercream and a white mini marshmallow to look like Santa hats, but decorate them however you like.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Christmas Spice Cupcakes
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
160g brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml boiling water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Frosting
100g butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Wilton colouring gel in Red
12 white mini marshmallows

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with patty pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the patty pans and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until each cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, cut the domes off the cupcakes until you have a flat surface.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add colouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour has been achieved.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle. Pipe frosting onto the cakes in a circular motion from the outside in until it looks like a santa hat. Top with a white mini marshmallow.

Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella Lawson ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’
Frosting recipe adapted from the ‘Crabapple Cupcake Bakery’ cookbook.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

It should be no secret by now that I love lemon meringue. I already have recipes on the blog for a traditional lemon meringue pie and for mini lemon meringue pies, but until now I haven’t had lemon meringue cupcakes.

Luckily, today is the day I rectify that sad scenario. This recipe is a combination of my butterfly cake recipe with my lemon curd and a lightly toasted meringue topping and the result is delicious!

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Cupcakes
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
⅔ cup (125g) caster sugar
125g butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Lemon Curd
½ cup white sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
½ cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 2-3 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon
55g butter, melted

Meringue
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg whites

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with yellow patty pans.

Put all of the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the patty pans (I know it doesn’t look like much batter, but they will rise a lot).

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer immediately onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are baking, start making the lemon curd. Whisk together the sugar, egg and yolk in a large microwave safe bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, zest and melted butter.

Cook the curd in the microwave on full power for 50 second intervals, whisking after each interval. You will know your lemon curd is ready when it coats the back of a metal spoon (approximately three 50 second intervals). Allow to cool completely.

Once the cakes and curd are completely cool, use a teaspoon to dig a hole in the centre of each cupcake. Fill the holes with the lemon curd and set aside.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Continue whisking, gradually adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking until sugar dissolves.

Use a piping bag with a star or plain nozzle to pipe meringue over cupcakes. Use a cook’s blowtorch to lightly toast the meringue. Enjoy!

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Notes:
– If you don’t have a blowtorch, simply bake the frosted cakes on an oven tray at 220ºC for 3-5 minutes or until the meringue is toasted.
– Any extra lemon curd can be stored in a sterilised container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess
Lemon curd recipe from My Baking Addiction
Meringue recipe from Taste.com.au

Giant Cookie Cake

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For my birthday this year, I decided to bake something a little different. As much as I have enjoyed making (and eating!) my layered drip cakes (here and here) over the last couple of years, this year I was after something simpler. Enter the cookie cake.

I have admired the brightly coloured array of delicious looking cookie cakes on Sally’s Baking Addiction (my baking porn website of choice) for years, and finally got around to making it. Boy, am I glad I did! As promised, this ‘cake’ is so quick and simple to make and produces a deliciously chewy and flavoursome giant cookie. The recipe is also very easy to adapt – you could use M&Ms, or mix up the choc chips depending on your taste.

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Ingredients (serves 12-14)
170g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg + an extra yolk
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
Chocolate frosting for topping (optional)

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Method
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spray a 23cm (9-inch) pie dish or cake pan thoroughly with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for about a minute or until combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla on until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as required.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours and baking powder. On a low speed, gradually mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Add in 1¼ cups chocolate chips and mix for until evenly dispersed.

Gently press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown (use a skewer in the centre to check it’s cooked). Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a cake stand or serving plate.

Decorate as desired (I made a quick chocolate buttercream using butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder and piped it on using my Wilton 1M tip), top with the remaining chocolate chips and serve with vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake’ on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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Chocolate & Mint Drip Cake

I made this cake for a combined Birthday/Bon Voyage dinner last weekend. I love the combination of chocolate and mint and am always keen to try out large layer cakes when cooking for a crowd.

Keep pieces small to ensure it’s not overly rich – maybe try out this technique from the genius Katherine Sabbath!

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Ingredients (serves 16-18)
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 boxes Betty Crocker moist devil’s food cake

Mint Buttercream Frosting
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
2-3 drops peppermint oil (or to taste)
a few drops of green food colouring

Dark Chocolate Ganache
170g dark chocolate melts
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons corn syrup

Toppings
2 x Flake bars
3 x Peppermint Crisp bars
3 x double Aero bars
1 x packet Darrell Lea BB’s chocolate mint balls
1 x packet dark Maltesers

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Method
Make 4 cakes, according to packet instructions, by halving the batter from each cake mix and baking in 20cm cake tins. Carefully trim cooked cakes where necessary to ensure they are perfectly flat, and use the best 3 (freeze the 4th for another time).

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar along with the peppermint oil and food colouring and beat for a further 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Attach your base cake to a cake board or serving tray by using a small amount of frosting as glue. Spread a layer of frosting onto the top of the cake and then top with the next cake layer. Repeat.

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Spread frosting onto the top and sides of the cake – don’t worry if you get crumbs in it, this is called the crumb coat. Using a spatula or protractor (as I did!), scrape off excess frosting so you have a thin smooth layer. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes or until frosting is firm.

Add a second layer of frosting onto the top and sides of cake, again scraping off the excess and creating a smooth finish.

Place chocolate melts into medium bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat just until it almost starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup. Allow to cool until slightly thickened.

Use a spoon to add a few purposeful drips over the top edge of the cake. Then spoon more ganache on top of the cake, allowing it to drip at varying points around the cake.

Top cake with Flake pieces, peppermint crisp shards, Aero pieces, Maltesers and bb’s. Alternate Maltesers and bb’s and make a ring around the base of the cake.

Serve by cutting into small pieces. Enjoy!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve always been fascinated by red velvet cake, probably since seeing the memorable bleeding armadillo groom’s cake in Steel Magnolias! Red velvet isn’t a very common flavour in Australia (although this is changing), and so finding a strong enough red food dye can be challenging. I used Wilton red no-taste colouring paste, but have heard Dr. Oetker works well too. These cakes are light and fluffy, and due to the buttermilk are not overly sweet. I served mine with cream cheese frosting, but a vanilla buttercream would also work well.

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Ingredients (Makes 24)
Cupcakes
150g softened butter
⅔ cup caster sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ⅓ cups self raising flour, sifted
4 tblspns cocoa, sifted
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tblspns of good quality red food colouring (I use Wilton’s, you may need to adjust the amount depending on the brand you use)

Cream Cheese Frosting
500g cream cheese, chopped
100g butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tblspns milk

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C. Place butter, caster sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, buttermilk and food colouring and beat on a low speed until just combined.

Divide mixture into cupcake tins lined with patty pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Once the cupcakes are almost completely cool, start making the cream cheese frosting. Place the cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 8-10 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes or until completely smooth. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Top each cupcake with a thick layer of frosting and, if desired, break up one of the cupcakes and sprinkle its crumbs over the remaining cakes. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s recipe ‘red velvet cupcakes with sugared cranberries’.

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Butterfly Cakes with Strawberries & Cream

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Considering it’s winter, we have been incredibly lucky to have an abundance of delicious, flavoursome strawberries and these cakes take full advantage of them.

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These cupcakes are probably the quickest and easiest to make in the history of the world;  you simply blitz the ingredients in a food processor, divide into patty pans and bake!

The cakes are very light with a soft, sponge-like texture, which makes them perfect for butterfly cakes. If butterfly cakes aren’t for you, they’re also delicious with a frosting of your choice (try my vanilla buttercream or marshmallow frosting).

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Ingredients (makes 12)
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
⅔ cup (125g) caster sugar
125g butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
Sweetened thickened cream (or whipped cream)
Good quality strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries, halved (optional)
Icing sugar

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Method
Preheat oven to 200ºC and line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Put all of the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the patty pans (I know it doesn’t look like much batter, but they will rise a lot).

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer immediately onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If you will be serving the cakes immediately, make your thickened cream and cut up your strawberries while the cakes cool.

Using a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle, cut out a circle from the top of each cake and cut it in half to make the butterfly wings. Fill the holes with a teaspoon or so of strawberry jam and then top with cream, butterfly wings and another line of jam. If you like, you can serve them like this in the traditional butterfly cake style (below).

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For me though, I love fresh strawberries so I top each cake with a strawberry half and then sprinkle with icing sugar. Enjoy!

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NB: filled cakes are best eaten with 6 hours
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Cupcakes’ in How to Be a Domestic Goddess. 

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The Port Elliot Bakery – the Best in South Australia

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Port Elliot Bakery is the best in South Australia*. Yes, it’s a bold statement considering SA’s dozens of award-winning bakeries, but the Port Elliot Bakery’s consistent 5 star reviews, 4000-strong “Port Elliot Bakery appreciation society” Facebook group, and regular 50m+ queues set it apart from the rest and are a testament to its excellence. The bakery is located on the main street of Port Elliot, a small town on the Fleurieu Peninsular about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, and is a must-visit when you’re in the area.

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Just some of the delicious offerings from the Port Elliot Bakery. (Image: Michael Mangahas)
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The unassuming shopfront of the Port Elliot Bakery – although you will never see it this empty! (Image: travelguide.net.au)

The Port Elliot Bakery was established in 1989 by the Gormon-Horrocks family, who still own and operate it today. However the site has hosted a bakery since the 1860s, and its tradition of using fresh produce and baking  daily on the premises is maintained, along with the original wood fired oven.

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The original Port Elliot bakers, the Bebee family (Image: portelliotbakery.com)  

I am fortunate enough to have visited the Port Elliot Bakery regularly for over 20 years, as it is located about 10mins drive away from my family’s holiday house. I can honestly say that I have never left disappointed as the food is always delicious and the service is quick and friendly (no matter how long the line-up is).

The pies, pasties and sausage rolls come in a wide range of delicious flavours and always have perfect crisp, flaky pastry, and the enormous array of beautiful and tempting sweets is sure to impress the harshest of critics.

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A selection of their savoury goods. (Image: The Port Elliot Bakery Facebook page)

While everything I’ve tried has been excellent, my go-to is their steak and bacon pie (so mouthwateringly tender and flavoursome) with a chocolate doughnut and a Farmer’s Union ice-coffee – perfection!

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Look at that perfect pastry…
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Melt in your mouth steak paired with bacon and a rich flavour-packed gravy… what more could you ask for?!
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With a deep golden exterior, soft fluffy interior and a dark chocolate icing, these are the doughnuts of my dreams
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Bailey is always more than happy to assist in eating Port Elliot Bakery goods!  

One of the reasons I love the bakery so much, is that it’s constantly innovating and updating its menu. The bakery offers a new “pie of the month” each month, and its recent Nutella and Oreo doughnut additions already have cult followings!

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The bakery’s new Oreo cookies & cream doughnuts (Image: The Port Elliot Bakery Facebook Page)

The bakery has also developed a range of vegan options including ‘Fruchoc’, ‘Bounty’ and ‘Snickers’ slices, bliss balls, and salads.

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“Fruchoc slice” a vegan option. (Image: the Port Elliot Bakery Facebook page)

Next time you’re down in the Fleurieu area, make sure you give the Port Elliot Bakery a visit. My advice is to get in early to avoid disappointment as the bakery is so popular that many items sell-out before 1pm. There is seating outside the bakery, but we like to drive to the Freeman Lookout and eat our bakery goodies with a magnificent ocean view where, between May and October, you might even be lucky enough to see whales.

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Freeman Lookout

Port Elliot Bakery

Open: 7am-5:30pm every day but Christmas Day, Proclamation Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
Location: 
31 North Terrace, Port Elliot, South Australia
Phone: (08) 8554 2475
Price: from $2.50
Rating: 5/5 cupcakes
5-star

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* I’m sure if Jane Austen had tried their baked goods she would agree!

Funfetti Cupcakes

These delicious vanilla cupcakes are made even better by the addition of sprinkles! Perfect for birthdays, baby showers or any time you feel like celebrating.

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Ingredients (makes 24+ cupcakes)
2 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tblspn vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
1 tblspn vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring as desired
Sprinkles, to decorate

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (approximately 150°C fan-forced). Line two 12 hole muffin trays with patty pans.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2mins after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 min after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is thoroughly combined but be careful not to overbeat (this will toughen the mixture). Add in the sprinkles and gently stir through until evenly dispersed.

Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about 3/4 full) and bake for about 18-20mins or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before icing.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add colouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour has been achieved.

Using a piping bag with a Wilton 2D tip, pipe buttercream in a swirl on the cupcakes and decorate with extra sprinkles.

Enjoy!

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Recipes adapted from The Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook.

Christmas Wreath Cupcakes

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Ingredients (makes 24)
24 cupcakes of your desired flavour (red velvetflourless chocolate or Christmas spice work well)
250g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Optional: Peppermint essence
Green food colouring
Red mini M&Ms

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Method
Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, milk, and, if desired, 1-2 drops of peppermint essence.

Spread thin layer of the frosting over each cupcake.

Colour remaining icing with 1-2 drops of green food colouring. Spoon into a piping bag with a star attachment and pipe icing in a ring around the edge of the cupcakes to make a wreath. Top with red M&Ms. Enjoy!

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Christmas Light Cupcakes

These adorable cupcakes are very easy to decorate but look great! Just pipe white buttercream in a swirl on your favourite flavoured cupcakes, pipe a dark chocolate swirl as the wire and attach mini M&Ms.

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Ingredients
24 cupcakes of your desired flavour (red velvet, flourless chocolate or Christmas spice would work well)
250g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Optional: 1-2 drops peppermint essence
Dark chocolate melts
1 pack mini M&Ms

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Method
Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and milk and, if desired, 1-2 drops of peppermint essence.

Using a piping bag with a wide circular nozzle, pipe frosting in a circular motion on each cupcake, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle, gradually building it up to a peak in the centre. Repeat with remaining cakes.

Melt the dark chocolate and spoon into a zip-lock bag. Cut just the very corner of the bag and pipe a thin line of the chocolate on each cupcake in a swirl to make the ‘lighting wire’. Place M&Ms vertically along the dark chocolate lines ‘to make the lights’. Enjoy!

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Design adapted from Pinterest.