Saturday, 6 December 2014

Candy Cane Cupcakes

"I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel."

It's only the December 6th but I've already watched Elf more times than is socially acceptable.

With Buddy the Elf and his sugar obsession on my mind, the next recipe to try out for my Christmas bakes was a bit of a no brainer: Candy Cane Cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery.

These look impressive, smell amazingly pepperminty and are deceptively easy to make. Winning on so many levels!

The original recipe can be found in The Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days, which would make an excellent addition to any Christmas list...

These quantities make between 12 and 16 cupcakes.


For the sponge:
80g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
240ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g unsalted butter
4 tsp peppermint essence
50ml whole milk
2-3 tsp red food colouring

Christmas decorations and cupcake cases


Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Using a hand-held electric mixer or a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Place the milk in a jug with the vanilla essence, add the eggs and whisk together by hand.

Pour three-quarters of the whisked eggs and milk into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and keep mixing on a medium speed until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth once again.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling each one up to two-thirds. I feel like I harp on about the Lakeland Traditional Ice-Cream Scoop too much, but after my KitchenAid it's the most useful piece of baking equipment I own. One scoop of the batter in each case is the perfect amount.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Using an electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar with the butter and peppermint essence on a low speed until the mixture is sandy in consistency, with no large lumps of butter left in the bowl.

Gradually add the milk and mix slowly until incorporated. Divide the frosting between two bowls, leaving one as it is and adding the red food colouring to the other.

The recipe now calls for special frosting. It is possible to do this by carefully filling a normal piping bag with the two frostings, ensuring the two colours are next to one another and not on top, and then piping the frosting onto the cakes. However, I took the opportunity to treat myself to a fancy Duo Colour Icing Kit from Lakeland. For £5.99 you get 8 disposable piping bags and 6 different nozzles, and it's an absolute revelation. The bags are sort of like 2 piping bags in one, and means the two colours remain neat on every single cupcake. How I've survived so long without a kit like this I'll never know!

Once the frosting has been piped in swirls, top the cupcakes either with edible glitter (I sadly didn't have any, and the glittery icing sugar I did have looked utterly rubbish) or other Christmas themed decorations. Asda have these 12 super cute holly leaves for £1, so I put them to good use to finish off the cupcakes.

There you have it: Candy Cane Cupcakes! I love how easy these are to make and yet they look so impressive people will think you spent hours in the kitchen slaving over them.

The sponge is beautifully light, fluffy, and moist. Rather unusually the peppermint frosting manages to be sweet but not too sickly, and is an interesting compliment to the plain vanilla sponge beneath. Mint is a wonderfully Christmassy flavour so these taste on point and as a result of the frosting the house smells amazing!

Does it get any more Christmassy than Candy Cane Cupcakes?! I doubt it!

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