Chocolate & Salted Caramel Gingerbread Man Cake

chocolate and salted caramel gingerbread man cake christmas baking ideas kids birthday

Happy New Year! Hope your festive period was as fun-filled as ours… it says something when it’s taken over 2 weeks to upload this post ūüôā

I was tasked (as per usual!) with providing dessert for a pre-Christmas meal with friends. You may remember last year’s Chocolate Christmas Pudding cake – well this was devoured equally as quickly. It’s not necessarily just a festive recipe either; I’d happily have a big slice of this at any time of the year.

As I was trying to think of what to make, a little lightbulb pinged in the back of my mind – I’d bought this gingerbread man silicon mould about 2 years ago, and as you can see had not yet used it.

gingerbread man cake silicon mould chocolate and salted caramel

I’d decided to try another gluten-free cake, and chocolate seemed like a safer option than a more complicated ginger one. I used this recipe from This Cotswold Girl – adding a couple of teaspoons of ground ginger to live up to the name. The mix was actually a little too much for the mould, so I made a few small muffins as well. You can never have too much chocolate cake!

The cake came out rich and fudgy, I’ll definitely be using this recipe again.

fudgy gluten free chocolate silicon moulded cake in the shape of a gingerbread man person

However the pièce de résistance for me was the amazing (if I may say so myself) salted caramel icing. It did catch a bit in the pan, but I think the caramelised sugar flecks give it an even more authentic gingerbread man look.

 

It’s a thick, fudgy icing that goes amazingly with the chocolate cake. The above recipe gives a very generous quantity, but I didn’t struggle to use it all up!

gingerbread man cake covered in salted caramel icing recipe salted caramel icing recipe use for covering cakes thick ginger coloured christmas

I let the icing set a little, putting the cake in the fridge for half an hour, before finishing with some red and white royal icing decorations – sleeves and a belt:

gingerbread man cake decoration piped armbands and belt red and white christmas baking ideas

And a wonderfully wonky little face! Well, nobody likes their gingerbread men perfect, do they?

gingerbread man cake crooked smiley face red and white piped royal

The finished gingerbread man (or Gingy if you prefer!) – a perfect post dinner treat.

gingerbread man cake chocolate and salted caramel with hand piped royal icing decorations

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Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cupcakes

christmas pudding cupcakes easy recipe and method happy holidays

I can’t believe this is my first festive post of the year and we’re only just over a week away from the big day – where does the time go?

These little chocolate cupcakes were baked for a charity cake sale that my local Free Cakes for Kids rep sent over the details for. If there’s one thing guaranteed to get me in the kitchen, then a charity cake sale is just that!

The cupcakes were a rich chocolate base, with added white chocolate chunks and candied orange peel. You could easily vary the recipe and add more dried fruit, nuts, or more chocolate.

white chocolate and candied orange peel mix for christmas pudding chocolate cupcakes

Ingredients (Makes 12 cupcakes)
150g butter
150g sugar
3 medium eggs
100g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
75g candied orange peel (make your own using the guide here)
100g white chocolate, broken into small chunks

To decorate
150-200g chocolate fondant
2 tablespoons marmalade or apricot jam
100g white fondant
Red, green and black food colouring

Method
– Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
– Add the eggs and a tablespoon of flour, and beat again
– Sieve in the remaining flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and add the chocolate and candied peel pieces
– Fold the mixture together with a metal spoon, until all combined
– Spoon into cupcake cases, and bake at 180 degrees C for 14 – 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger
– Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely before decorating

chocolate and orange cupcakes freshly baked christmas wrappers charity cake sale

To decorate
– Heat the marmalade / apricot jam until runny, and using a pastry brush lightly coat the top of each cake
– Cut circles of chocolate fondant (using a pastry cutter), and place over the top of the cupcake, pressing the sides down
– Cut a second circle, of white fondant, and either freehand (using a knife), or with a way shaped cutter, cut about a third off the circle with a wavy edge, to look like dripping icing. Stick this onto the chocolate fondant using a little dab of water.
– Stick or paint on small circles in a dark colour, to replicate the fruit in the Christmas pudding
– Finish with a green sprig leaf and holly berries – and a little edible glitter if you feel the need!

chocolate fondant covered cupcakes round cutter for christmas puddings christmas pudding base cupcake decorated with fondant icing leaf and berries sprig on christmas pudding cupcake recipe christmas pudding cupcake recipe and method easy to follow make with kids

All packaged up and ready to go. I don’t like Christmas Pudding but could happily devour a big plate of these after dinner!

christmas pudding cupcakes festive baking ideas

Festive Fairy Light Cupcakes

christmas fairy lights festive cupcake ideas cake decorating fondant icing on white buttercream base silver edile ink metallic decoration

Happy New Year readers! The last of my Christmas posts, I promise. Now that we’re into January it’s nearly time for the tree to be packed away for another 11 months (well, 10 1/2, if I can get away with it!). But before the festivities finish completely I wanted to share these cupcakes that I made as a Christmas present at the start of last week.

My inspiration came from this brilliant silicon mould, that came as a free gift with the Christmas issue of My Cake Decorating Magazine.

christmas fairy light silicon mould for fondant cake decorating small medium and large

As you can see it had 3 different sizes of fairy light, and I honestly wasn’t sure if they would pop out in one piece, my previous experience with silicon moulds and fondant icing has been somewhat mixed to say the least!

Nevertheless I was very pleasantly surprised when they all came out really well. The key I found was to start with quite a dry fondant, fill up the mould, use a knife to scrape off any excess, and leave to air-dry for about 5 minutes (I found this worked quite well in between making the cupcakes themselves, and clearing up afterward!). The flexibility of the silicon meant it could be completely bent around itself to pop each little light out. I made all the lights from bright colours of fondant, and left them to air dry for about an hour before using, so the colours wouldn’t run into the buttercream.

multicoloured fondant icing fairy lights pressed from silicon mould my cake decorating christmas baking

During one of my many rounds of Christmas shopping, I accidentally stumbled across this lovely little present for me – a metallic silver edible ink pen from Rainbow Dust. It’s called a Click-Twist Brush, I’d not heard of these before but was obviously eager to try. I found it really easy to use as you can click out as much or as little ink as you need to get the desired effect.

rainbow dust metallic dark silver click twist edible ink brush review and use in christmas cake decorating

It took a couple of layers to build up the brilliant silver on the fairy light ‘sockets’, but I’m sure you’ll agree the effect was absolutely fantastic:

red yellow and green fairy lights made from fondant icing with silver edible ink decoration

Using a plain white buttercream I stuck the fairy lights onto the cupcakes in my planned patterns, and again used the silver pen to dot on a silver ‘wire’, connecting the lights up.

rainbow fairy lights christmas cupcake fondant pressed from silicon mould finished with silver edible ink

A final spritz of silver shimmer and light dusting of edible glitter later (if you can’t at Christmas, when can you…?) …

christmas fairy light cupcake red and blue with silver edible ink wire finished with silver shimmer spray

The finished festive fairy lights! A Christmas cupcake treat ūüôā

fairy light fondant decorated cupcakes yellow purple red blue christmas gift ideas

Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cake

alternative christmas dessert ideas chocolate pudding cake decorated with fondant icing holly leaves and berries

Festive tidings to you all baking readers! Hope your holiday season has been filled with tasty delights and treats. Now the big day is out the way (and my first Christmas dinner cooked with great success!), I’m enjoying some time off work hiding from the cold and catching up on uploading my Christmassy bakes to the blog.

This cake was a dessert I made for a dinner with friends a week before Christmas. I personally am not a fan at all of traditional Christmas pudding, which is a little odd considering my unfailing for Christmas cake. Dessert on Christmas Day is normally mince pies for me, but for this dinner I wanted to make something purely indulgent that we’d all enjoy.

The recipe is simple and crammed full of chocolate chips for an extra element of guilty pleasure. It was made using my Lakeland Hemisphere Mould (in medium), which you may recall helped me create a wonderful Halloween Pumpkin cake.

chocolate christmas pudding cake recipe lakeland medium hemisphere mould balanced in pyrex dish

Although the mould looks quite deep, it actually only needs a 2 egg mix to rise up and fill the shape. I adapted this Chocolate Madeira Cake recipe from the lovely Emma MT at Cakes, Bakes and Cookies to the quantity needed.

Ingredients
100g butter
130g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
110g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
40g cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of milk
100g milk chocolate chips
100g white chocolate chips

Method
– Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy
– Add the eggs, milk, and a tablespoon of flour, and beat again until smooth
– Sieve in the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Pour the chocolate chips on top and mix use your fingertips to lightly coat them in the flour (this will stop them all sinking when baked)
– Fold the mixture until just combined, don’t over mix
– Pour into the well-greased tin and bake at 160 degrees until cooked through (test with a skewer). Due to the deepness of the hemisphere pan this took around an hour, flatter tins will take less. If the top is starting to over-brown, cover with foil for the remaining time
– Leave to cool in the tin, and carefully turn out

I love how the chocolate chips had swirled together, and even without icing the cake had a brilliant Christmas Pudding effect.

chocolate christmas pudding cake freshly baked milk and white chocolate chips spherical design

To Ice
– Chocolate buttercream
– Chocolate fondant, white and coloured fondant to decorate

I added a little drop of Baileys to my buttercream for an extra glossy sheen and of course a bit of an adult taste!

chocolate buttercream coated christmas pudding cake recipe and how to easy dessert ideas

After half an hour in the fridge, I covered the cake with chocolate fondant (all over), before overlaying a wavy-edged section of white fondant.

chocolate christmas pudding cake covered with chocolate fondant with white icing detail

A little decoration was all that was needed to finish the pudding off – red fondant berries and green holly leaves made using a plunger cutter.

fondant icing green holly leaves and red berries on christmas pudding cake alternative dessert ideas

And finally, after mottling the chocolate fondant with the end of a straw, I added a little festive sheen using some silver shimmer spray.

dr oetker silver shimmer spray on christmas pudding chocolate cake recipe

 

chocolate christmas pudding cake lakeland hemisphere mould covered and decorated with fondant

chocolate christmas pudding cake recipe and directions instructions different desserts without fruit

And cut into, it was of course chocolatey through and through, with a great smattering of chocolate chips and divinely creamy icing.

cut inside chocolate christmas pudding cake fondant holly leaves and berries alternative to traditional desserts

 

Christmas Snowflake Cupcakes

christmas snowflake cupcakes easy cake decorating ideas festive colours sugar sprinkles piped buttercream in green and red

Ah don’t you love the pre-Christmas festivities, drinking mulled wine until you lose feeling in your toes and can’t tell if it’s from the cold or the alcohol; and of course the local school / village fair, buying more Christmas decorations than you’ll ever need, trying to dodge excitable small children, and purchasing your weight in home-made produce from the food stalls.
I personally love local school fairs as it gives me an excuse to make some ridiculously over the top and fully festive wares – last year it was my Red Velvet Rudolph Cupcakes; this year I went all out to Let it Snow!

The cupcake base was a moist sponge crammed full of white chocolate chips. Snow on the outside, white squishy chocolate on the inside.

white chocolate chip cupcakes silver wrapper full to the brim

The snowflakes themselves were certainly a challenge. I was using some free cutters that came free with a magazine, whilst they looked so delicate and intricate, well, they were! A lot of patience was used up prising each prong out with a cocktail stick. And repeating times about twenty. I added a little tylo powder to the white fondant before rolling it, so the snowflakes would harden quickly and not go mushy on their buttercream base.

extracting white snowflake fondant shape from intricate cutter using cocktail stick delicate work

Once all my snowflakes were ready I mixed up the buttercream – a simple 1/3 butter to 2/3 icing sugar, coloured brightly and festively with red and green gels. Using a star nozzle I piped different patterns onto all the cupcakes…

piped star effect red buttercream icing on silver cupcake base for christmas kids ideas

… before topping with a fondant snowflake, and matching snowflake sugar sprinkles (these ones are from Morrisons).

red piped buttercream swirls with white fondant snowflake star shaped and sugar sprinkles for christmas childrens ideas

And of course, no snowflake would be perfect without that magical sparkle, in the form of some holographic edible glitter.

christmas snowflake cupcakes green buttercream white fondant icing flake edible glitter sparkle

The finished batch of cupcakes – oh how I wanted to try one before giving them away, but it may have been a bit obvious…

christmas snowflake cupcakes red and green buttercream white fondant and sugar sprinkles easy

They went down an absolute (snow) storm at the Christmas fair, with kids and adults alike. Happy holidays indeed!

Tropical Christmas Cake with Coconut Icing

merry christmas alternative with a twist tropical fruit cake with rum and ginger coconut icing and flower decoration recipe and easy method

Today, a Christmas themed Derby Clandestine Cake Club – with a twist, of course. The baking websites and newsletters I’m subscribed to are awash with amazing ideas, from festive decorations to drunk cakes and everything in between. With such a sweet tooth I saw a tropical fruit cake recipe and was sold instantly – Rob came up with the idea of coconut icing which was a great snowy touch.

As with a traditional Christmas cake, you can really use any fruits you’d like. There are some great pre-mixes of tropical fruit out there that will save you buying them all separately, and the ginger can be omitted if you’re not a fan. I’ve not actually made a Christmas cake before and am surprised at the ratio of fruit over cake – this definitely counts as one of your five a day ūüôā

Ingredients

Tropical Christmas Cake
600g mixed tropical dried fruit.
(I used a 200g mix of apricots, sultanas and apples, plus 400g mix of pineapple, papaya and mango)
50ml rum or other spirit (optional)
185g butter
185g golden caster or light brown sugar
3 eggs
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
30g chopped crystallised ginger
Spice blend as desired – I used 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg

Coconut Icing
75g butter
150g icing sugar
200g desiccated coconut

Method
If you’ve time, soak the¬†dried fruit overnight in the rum , in a covered bowl.
Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, spices, baking powder and sieved flour, and beat again until smooth.
Finally, add the dried fruit and ginger and mix well combined with an even distribution of fruit.
Pour into a greased, lined in – 7 inches round with high sides is perfect, but you could use a larger round, a square or even a novelty tin.
Bake at 150 degrees for 2 1/2 Р3 hours, until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Timing will very much depend on your oven type, mine took around 2 1/2 hours in a fan oven. If the top is starting to brown then cover with tin foil for the remainder of the cooking time.

Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely – overnight is ideal as you don’t want the icing to melt off!

tropical fruit alternative christmas cake mango pineapple papaya recipe easy rum and ginger flavouring

For the icing, simply beat together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. If you have an electric stand mixer then leave it on for 4-5 minutes, the extra beating will lighten the mixture so that the tallow of the butter fades into a white.
Add the coconut and beat again until smooth, use a dash of milk if it’s a little too stiff.
Use immediately as it will set hard – applying generously all over the cake, and smoothing with a palette knife dipped in hot water.

coconut ice style icing spreading on tropical christmas fruit cake recipe and method

smooth coconut iced cake icing recipe easy finished with a palette knife tropical cake

I wanted a little decoration to finish Рthe coconut icing balled up beautifully and I had planned on making snowmen, but a last minute change of mind led to tropical flowers instead, alluding to the rich colours inside.

These were quite simply 2 flower shapes, one with rounded petals and the other more jagged, in orange and red, placed alternately and finished with a touch of red food colouring as paint, red mottled centre and festive touch of edible glitter! I mixed a little tylo powder into the fondant so it would set hard, and placed them in a wooden egg tray to get a curved effect.

tropical fondant flours orange and red alternate edible glitter setting with tylo powder in egg cup for form

I stuck the flowers onto the cake with a little ordinary white icing, and finished with a festive greeting!

tropical christmas cake coconut snow icing merry christmas with red and orange flowers edible glitter

The finished cake – Christmas plate essential, of course ūüôā

coconut icing merry christmas tropical fruit cake recipe and simple instructions alternative and easy

easy alternative christmas cake recipe tropical fruit mango pineapple papaya with apricot rum and ginger red and orange flower fondant decoration coconut icing

It was a big hit at cake club and back at home as well – the icing set like a delicious coconut ice, I might be making a batch of this just as is! And the fruit colours inside came out great too.

slice of tropical christmas fruit cake with coconut icing recipe and how to contains mango pineapple papaya apricot sultanas flavoured with rum and ginger

Chocolate Yule Log – Christmas in June!

christmas in june half year recipe for dessert baking chocolate yule log traditional recipe

Do not adjust your screen, you did read it correctly! A very good friend of mine recently compiled a list of thirty things she’d like to do before she turns 30 next year – and for reasons unknown to the majority of us, Christmas in June made the list.

Not that I’m one to complain – Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, the sparkles, the presents, the games, the friends, and of course the FOOD! The original plan was to have a Christmas barbecue – turkey burgers, full-sized¬†pigs-in-blankets (forever more known as hogs-in-duvets), and of course some great festive desserts. But, the great British summer being what it is, we looked out of the window and had a bit of a rethink, so a full Christmas roast dinner was had instead.

Dessert was going to be the same either way – a big, sticky, chocolatey, Christmas yule log.

The recipe follows exactly the same method as the swiss roll recipe I posted earlier in the year – more pictures can be found over there if you’re struggling!

And when I saw this Tala swiss roll tin¬†on offer in Hobbycraft earlier in the week, well, it was just fate and I just needed to have it in my kitchen…

tala swiss roll time christmas chocolate yule log recipe festive baking

Recipe

4 medium eggs
125g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
95g self raising flour

To ice:

150g butter
75g cocoa powder
225g icing sugar

Method

– Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, pale, fluffy, and about double their original volume (this can take up to 10 minutes, even with an electric mixer)
– Sieve the cocoa powder and flour, and gently fold into the egg mixture
– Take a swiss roll tin (or ordinary baking tray with ridged sides), line, grease, and coat with a layer of sugar and flour
– Pour in the batter, and smooth out very carefully using a spatula, making sure to get into all the corners, and flatten out
– Bake in a hot oven (220 degrees) for 7-8 minutes, until the sponge is light springy to the touch
РWhilst the cake is baking, prepare another sheet of greaseproof paper, a little bigger than your tray. Lay it on a damp tea towel, and cover all over with a good sprinkling of caster sugar
– As soon as the cake is cooked, run a knife lightly round the edges, and flip out onto the sugared greaseproof paper
– Keeping the original sheet of greaseproof paper on top (the one it was baked with), quickly but carefully, start at one end and roll the whole tea towel, cake and paper stack up tightly.
– Tuck the end underneath so the roll is held tightly, and allow to cool
– Once cool, beat together the butter, cocoa and icing sugar to form a smooth buttercream
– Gently unroll the cake, and spread all over with around 1/3 of the buttercream. Re-roll, and place on a plate, ensuring the loose ‘end’ is at the bottom, so it doesn’t come undone
– If desired, cut off a small piece from the end of the log, and place by the side to form a branch
– Cover the whole cake in the remaining buttercream, and decorate!

I decorated my cake with some tree bark effects in the buttercream – simply using a cocktail stick to create lines and knots.

wooden trunk pattern on chocolate christmas swiss roll yule log recipe

And t0 finish, a little robin:

christmas in june chocolate yule log with robin decoration and chocolate wood effect butter icing

… and some leaves and a Christmas sign!

a merry christmas cake decoration chocolate yule log recipe wooden tree trunk pattern in butter cream

One last finishing touch – a sprinkling of festive ‘snow’ – well with the summer we’re having it wouldn’t be a surprise! This snow was actually a mixture of icing sugar, and some white edible glitter.

icing and edible glitter snow on christmas chocolate yule log holly leaves and robin cake decoration

One very festive dessert! It’s amazing just how easy it is to get into Christmas in June…

merry christmas chocolate yule log  easy baking recipe made in june

One epic Christmas roast dinner later, and a table full of hungry revellers, the cake was quite quickly devoured!

half eaten chocolate yule log merry christmas dinnner

So here it is – Merry Christmas everyone! ūüėČ

Rice Crispy and Marshmallow House

christmas present gift rice crispy and marshmallow house decorated with royal icing and sweets snowman and penguin

So Twelfth night has passed and the decorations are all down – but that doesn’t stop us playing with our Christmas presents! Of all the lovely things I was lucky to get this is definitely one of my favourites. It’s actually for Rob and I to share – me to make and him to eat!

chocolate crispy house kit christmas present john  lewis baking gift

Inside it had everything needed to make a big sticky house:

ingredients in chocolate crispy kit marshmallows rice crispies royal icing

And instructions on the back! (And if you read the small print you can also see the kit came from John Lewis)

instructions reverse of box chocolate crispy house rice crispies marshmallow

First step was to melt the marshmallows (with a couple of tablespoons of butter, then only thing not included in the kit). At this stage I very nearly dug out a spoon and didn’t go any further!

melting marshmallows gooey pan

The melted marshmallows were not quite what I’d expected, very thick, sticky and gooey. It took a good bit of elbow grease to get the rice crispies mixed in.

melted marshmallows sticky and thick

Then it was a simple case of pressing the rice crispies into the plastic mould. I covered the back with a piece of greaseproof paper to press the mixture down firmly and evenly.

rice crispie marshmallow house firming and flattening pieces in mould

With the mixture so firmly together the pieces came out of the mould easily, with a little pushing through from the back.

crispy house walls coming out of mould marshmallows sticky

After repeating the marshmallow melting and adding cocoa for the roof pieces, I put everything on a baking tray and into the fridge to set firmly.

Next step was to stick everything together. The supplied sachet of royal icing was a good thickness and plentiful for everything I needed to do. Sticking bits together not so easy! I had to employ a few heavy kitchen items to support the sides while they set.

constructing a marshmallow crispy house for christmas using heavy supports to stick the walls together

Likewise when it came to the roof pieces – lucky I had another great present that was a perfect size to sit underneath and hold them up. Cupcake spoons I’m sure will feature again soon!

marshmallow crispy house chocolate roof holding up supporting while royal icing sets

While the house was drying I used up the remaining rice crispies to make up some occupants – a big, round snowman, and cute little penguin. Decorating the with the royal icing and suites supplied, I used an edible-ink pen to dot the penguins eyes as there were no more chocolate crispies left!

penguin and snowman made out of rice crispy and marshmallows decorated with royal icing and sweets jelly beans

And finally onto the most fun part – adoring the house with the rest of the sweets and royal icing.

I piped tiles and a sweet design onto the roof:

roof piece royal icing tiled with sweets jelly beans chocolate rice crispies and marshmallows

And topped the two roof pieces with some jelly hearts:

icing sweetie tiles on the roof of crispy house chocolate

For the front, I’d moulded a chocolate front door, decorated with yet more sweets!

decoration on the front of rice crispy marshmallow house front door jelly beans royal icing chocolate

The finished product! It was actually quite simple to assemble, as long as you have enough space in the fridge to chill the pieces first. And a lot quicker than baking all the pieces for my previous Christmas Gingerbread House!

rice crispy house marshmallows with chocolate sweets and royal icing penguin and snowman

The new occupants seemed very pleased with their new house :-):

rice crispy snowman and penguin chocolate outside christmas marshmallow house

The only downside I could find; the marshmallow never really sets firm so you have to work in a very cold environment. It wasn’t even warm in our house and 15 minutes of decorating was more than the construction could handle…

collapsing marshmallow and rice crispy house too warm

Rob was quite happy with this result as it meant eating the house straight away – if needs must!

A great afternoons entertainment and eating from a brilliant Christmas present, plus I’ll definitely be keeping the mould to use again next (this) year. Chocolate houses maybe…?

I did weigh the ingredients before putting the house together  so could easily recreate the recipe Р2x rice crispies at 85g each, 2x marshmallows at 100g each, and 10g of cocoa powder for the chocolate roof pieces. Melt the marshmallows 1 pack at a time with 25g of butter, stir in 1 pack of rice crispies, cool slightly and press into the mould. Repeat adding cocoa powder for the chocolate pieces).

Merry Christmas! Red Velvet & White Chocolate Santa Cookies

20121225-183935.jpg

Seasons Greetings to you and yours, hope that Santa bought everything you wanted and more!

These little bites of festivity were cut using a Santa cutter I bought in Hamburg a couple of weeks back (you can see some photos from the Christmas markets here). You could easily find a template online if you don’t have a special Santa cutter!

Hard as I tried I couldn’t find a good recipe with UK weights anywhere – so had to improvise one of my own! It’s based on the butter sable biscuits I’ve made before (like these racing car biscuits), but adapted to get that vibrant red!

100g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
100g butter
60g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Several drops of red colour paste/gel (liquid colours won’t give the same vibrancy when you bake)

Simply rub the butter into the dry ingredients to resemble breadcrumbs, then mix in the yolk, colouring and vanilla to form a stiff dough. Refrigerate before rolling out, cook for 7-10 minutes at 180 degrees.

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To decorate I kept things simple by melting white chocolate and piping a beard, and fur trims for his sleeve, hat and hem.

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas ūüôā x

Christmas Spiced Santa Cupcakes

santa claus christmas cupcakes easy made out of coloured fondant

Last weekend I went to a Santa fancy dress party… was there really any choice about what to make?

I wanted to add a little twist to some simple vanilla cupcakes – so added 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg to the batter, to give them a lovely warm festive spice.

Would you believe the one time I don’t want them too – they actually over-rose, so I had to trim the tops slightly to give a flat base for the fondant (great excuse for taste testing though!)

christmas spiced cupcakes red metallic cases cutting off the tops

To add some extra flavour, moisture and general stickiness to the cakes, I brushed them with a sticky spice glaze. This was made simple by boiling 3 tbsp water, 75g brown sugar, a splash of vanilla essence and pinch of nutmeg. Boiled (in a non stick pan) for about a minute and then left to cool, it cooled to a thick, syrupy glaze which I brushed onto the still-warm cupcakes.

christmas spiced cupcake glaze pastry brush cinnamon sugar

Having found some fondant-confidence from my cupcake decorating class¬†a few weeks ago, I decided to top the cupcakes entirely with fondant.¬†¬†One of the things I learnt about in the class was tylo(tylose) powder. Adding it to fondant makes gumpaste, which is a bit more pliable and easy to work with, but the real benefit is that it makes the icing set harder and firmer, so your shapes stay put, colours don’t merge, etc. I bought this big tub online for about ¬£5, it will last a long time. For about 250g of fondant you need perhaps a teaspoon of tylo powder and just need it in. You can get granules but this fine stuff is better for adding to fondant.

tylo powder for making fondant shapes harden and use in edible glue

And as if that’s not useful enough – you can also use the tylo to make edible glue, to stick different bits of fondant (or gumpaste) together. Simply mix about 1/4 teaspoon of tylo with 2 tablespoons of water in a small pot, and mix well. And tada, glue!

edible glue made from tylo powder used for fondant cupcakes

For these santa cupcakes I shaped all the fondant with these 3 concentric pastry circle cutters. You can see each has a smooth-sided edge  and a fluted side of the same size.

round pastry cutters concentric different sizes for making santa christmas cupcakes

To start, for the face base, a simple of circle of pink icing the same size as the cupcake. The sugar glaze on the cake was more than sticky enough to hold in place. (While wracking my cupboards for a good skin-coloured mix, I came across the leftover ready-made pink fondant from my Nanny’s 80th cake. Hurrah! It pays to have endless cupboards of cake decorating items…)

santa cupcakes making the face base using light pink fondant

Next up – the moustache. I brushed the bottom of the pink fondant with a little edible glue. A little goes a long way, and it works well to put it on before you cut out your shapes so it can get a little tacky. If you forget, it still works to stick things straight on top!

edible glue on fondant for sticking details onto cupcakes made from tylo powder

To cut the beard, I used white fondant and the middle cutters fluted edge, then cut across to fit the face with the smooth side of the largest circle.

santa cupcakes recipe instructions making the beard using round pastry cutters

Next up, moustache – a combination of the smallest and largest fluted circles.

santa cupcakes moustache using pastry cutters white fondant

For some reason I didn’t take a photo of the hats. It took a fair amount of working in the colour paste to get the vibrant red but well worth it ¬†– they were cut with just a triangle (I used a paper template so they’d all be the same angle) rounded at the bottom with one of ¬†smooth edges.

The fur trim for the hat was simply 2 concentric smooth-edged rounds, trimmed at the sides so they’d fit neatly around the base of the hat.

santa cupcakes hat trim using concentric pastry cutter circles

To get the furry effect on Santa’s hat trim, I simply used a cocktail stick to mottle little dots all the way across the white piece.

santa cupcakes mottled effect using a cocktail stick to look like fur white fondant pink round nose

A small ball of pink for the nose, and a white ball for the hat pom-pom; again I mottled this with a cocktail stick so it would look furry.

santa cupcakes recipe instructions hat pom pom from white fondant mottled effect to look like fur

Some little black eyes and a good brush of edible glitter later (I kept it just on the fur so Santa looked extra polished) – and Mr Claus was ready to go!

finished fondant santa cupcake edible glitter christmas sparkle baking

Which is the real Santa? Well, that’d be telling… and I¬†do want him to bring my presents in a couple of days time!

christmas spiced santa cupcakes red metallic wrappers fondant decoration face

santa christmas sparkle cupcakes beard moustache and hat all made of fondant

They went down a treat – and what a fantastic party it was too!

santa fancy dress party fur trim hood christmas