Santa Cupcakes

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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…so what better way to celebrate the start of the festive season than with these gorgeous Santa cupcakes? The cakes taste like a cross between chocolate and gingerbread and look like they take a lot of time and skill, but are really very easy – perfect to take to a Christmas function or to share with your family and friends.

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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

Decorations
Raspberry jam
Red fondant icing
Black fondant icing
Yellow fondant icing

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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.

While the cakes are cooking, cut 12 circles out of red fondant approximately the size of the cupcakes (I used the rim of a glass as my cutter). To make Santa’s belt, cut rectangles out of the black fondant with a sharp knife, ensuring each is long enough to span the width of the middle of the circles. To make the belt buckle, cut a small rectangle out of yellow fondant, then cut a smaller rectangle out from within it leaving the belt frame. If desired, cut a small piece of fondant to make the belt “prong”.

Let cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Heat the jam in the microwave (mix with water if still thick) and use it as glue to stick the fondant circles to the tops of the cakes. Again using the jam as glue (sparingly), stick down the belts and buckles to the centre of the circles. Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella’s ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’ cookbook. Design idea from Pinterest.

Gingerbread House

Every Christmas I construct a gingerbread house for the holiday season. They look so cute, taste delicious, can be decorated however you like and everyone is always so impressed when they find out you made it from scratch. The baking itself is very simple with this recipe, but the construction work is a little more difficult so I would definitely advise that you have an extra pair of hands to help stabilise it during the early stages.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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Ingredients
Gingerbread :
90g butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup honey
2 tspns finely grated lemon rind
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tspn bicarb soda
2 tspns ground ginger
1 ½ tspns ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground  cloves
½ tspn ground nutmeg
1 tspn mixed spice
Assorted lollies (to decorate)

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
4 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
½ tspn lemon juice

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Method
Combine butter, sugar & honey in a medium pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool for 10mins. Transfer mixture to large bowl; stir in rind, eggs & sifted dry ingredients. Turn dough onto floured surface, knead gently until no longer sticky & refrigerate, covered for 1 hour.

Cut paper patterns for gingerbread house: one rectangle 20cm by 15cm for the roof panels, a rectangle 15cm by 10cm for the 2 sides & one rectangle 16cm wide by 19cm high for the front/back. Then from this final rectangle, mark 10cm high & draw a line across. Then rule from the middle of the top of the rectangle, down to edges of the 10cm rectangle part (these diagonal lines should be approximately 12cm long). Cut out shapes.

Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out shapes carefully around the patterns, using a serrated knife. Place shapes on lined baking trays and bake for 15mins or until firm & golden brown. Stand gingerbread on trays for 5mins and then transfer onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the royal icing, beat egg whites in a small bowl with electric mixer until just frothy; gradually beat in enough sifted icing sugar for mixture to form very stiff peaks then stir in lemon juice. Keep the surface of the icing covered with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out.

Using a cake board as the base and a helper to hold the pieces in place, pipe a thick line of icing on the bottom of the two side pieces and the front/back pieces. Hold in place until icing has hardened and it stands without assistance. Pipe icing between sides and front/back pieces both inside and out to strengthen. Leave for 10-15mins.

Pipe icing onto the tops of the sides and front/back pieces. Hold on roof pieces and pipe between them (hold them in place for at least 10mins). Add more icing around the edges of the roof panels to look like snow/icicles and decorate as desired.

Enjoy!

ImageBased on the ‘Gingerbread House’ recipe in Australian Women’s Weekly ‘The Christmas Book’