Thursday, 22 December 2011

Jolly Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Season's greetings, friends!

Well, it's two days out from Christmas, and I think I am more or less ready for the festive mayhem that is to encompass the next few days. My Christmas lights are up and my house looks jolly indeed, my Christmas tree happily occupies the corner of our living room, and our family has been on top of the present-buying for the relatives, so no cousin has to be left out awkwardly for the celebrations!

Luckily this year, as mentioned in an earlier post, my friend Sian and I have started a little plate-painting business, so last-minute presents have been at the ready for friends, family, and workmates. Just yesterday we had our twilight stall at the farmers' markets, which went over fabulously, with lots of purchases and interest in our designs! Obviously lots of people had left their shopping till the last minute, but hey, that suited us fine! It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that on Christmas, people will tear away the packaging to reveal our little plates. I hope they are enjoyed.

Aside from holding the stall, wrapping presents and decorating the house, I decided to bake these gorgeous little red velvet cupcakes. I had never tried red velvet before, but I am always up for new things, and thought the shade of red complemented the occasion nicely. So I made a batch for my friends, cooking up a right crimson mess in my kitchen in the process - but hey, it was totally worth it.

These cupcakes are soft and, well, velvety, and the cream cheese frosting on top is light, and perfect piped into a small dollop on top, so you can still see the deep red underneath. I think the cupcakes are perfect as they are, but I had a bit of spare time on my hands, and wanted to make the cupcakes look a little more festive, so I made some fondant to mould into little Chrissy shapes! My favourite shape would have to be the snowman - he's just so damn cute!

{Original recipe (minus the fondant) adapted from 'Everything Alice', by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech}

Have a wonderful Christmas everybody! I'll post again in the New Year!

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Makes about 20 cupcakes
340g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml red food colouring
A dash of milk
110g unsalted butter, softened
340g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla essence
250g lite sour cream
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

110g unsalted butter, softened
240g cream cheese
340g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

Fondant (optional):
1.5 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp milk or water
Food colouring


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place 20 cupcake wrappers in muffin tins.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and food colouring. If the mixture is still dry and forms little 'pebbles', add just enough milk to make a thick, shiny paste with no lumps.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. When light and fluffy, add the eggs, then the cocoa paste and the vanilla essence - mix until smooth. Add the sifted flour and the sour cream, and again mix until smooth.

In a cup, mix the vinegar and baking soda - it will fizz. Add this to the cake mixture. Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases, and bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate:

Once the cakes have cooled completely, combine the butter and cream cheese and blend until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and add the vanilla extract. Using a piping bag, or a dolloping-instument (ie. a spoon), ice the cupcakes.

To make the fondant, combine icing sugar, butter and milk/water in a large bowl and mix until a dough-like mixture forms. If the mixture is too soft and creamy, add more icing sugar until the right consistency is acheived. Knead for 1-2 minutes. Divide the fondant into bowls, and colour separately with different food colouring. Model as desired, and pop onto the top of your cupcakes!

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