Tis the season when you’re asked to bring a holiday treat along to all of the parties you’re invited to, and that means you’ve got to come up with something that everyone will like. I’ve done bars, cookies, and cakes, but out of everything I’ve tried, I always find the most popular dish on the buffet tables is holiday cupcakes.
Yes, I know holiday cupcakes don’t really sound like a traditional Christmas treat, but it really all comes down to how they’re topped. More than cookies or bars, you can use a cupcake as a base for so many great decorating ideas. You can even think of them as Christmas decorations you can eat.
Here are a few great holiday cupcakes you can make and take to your next Christmas potluck.
Hot chocolate Cupcakes
Are these not the cutest chocolate cupcakes you’ve ever seen? They make you feel like you’re about to take a sip of warm hot chocolate. Photo and recipe for these holiday cupcakes from Bakerita.
For the cupcakes
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour (I recommend weighing it)
¾ cup canola oil
4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 cups granulated sugar
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
For the frosting
1½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the cupcakes
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners into cupcake pans.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and 1 cup water. Heat over medium heat until melted and fully combined.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until combined.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time (making sure to keep whisking – you don’t want the eggs to scramble), then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full.
Bake cupcakes for 17-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool on racks for 10 minutes.
For the frosting
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water, and egg whites. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
Attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately. After frosting, use a handheld kitchen torch to lightly toast the top of the frosting if desired.
Candy Cane Christmas Tree Cupcakes
I like to call these cupcakes “Whoville cupcakes” because they remind me of the Grinch. You can use the same cupcake recipe as the Hot Chocolate cupcakes for this one. Photo and recipe from Bakerella.com.
White Candy Melts
White Sugar crystals
Pink Sugar crystals
Icing colors (I used Wilton Dusty Rose & )
Cut off ends of the sugar cones, so the tree section is around 3 inches long. Use a serrated knife to carefully saw through without shattering the cone.
Dip cone sections in melted white candy coating. If you use a tall plastic cup, it will be easier to coat the entire cone.
Remove and let excess coating fall off.
Sprinkle white sugar crystals or sanding sugar over entire surface of the cone. Sprinkle over a large bowl and you can reuse the sprinkles.
Set on wax paper to dry completely. When dry, you can redip the bottoms to make sure the cone is completely coated.
Use 6 inch long candy canes and break the handles off so you are left with a straight piece that’s around 5 inches.
Cover cupcakes with tinted pink frosting.
Fill a small dish with the pink sugar crystals or sanding sugar and press cupcake tops into the dish until the entire surface is covered with sugar cyrstals.
Dip one end of the candy cane in some of the melted candy coating and insert the other end straight into the cupcake.
Place a Christmas Tree on top of the candy cane and let the candy coating dry and work like a glue.
If you want decorations, it would be a good idea to add them before you attach the tree. Just dot a small amount of coating on the surface and attach a colored sprinkle.
For presents, tint white fondant and shape the fondant into small squares by hand. Then use some of the white fondant, roll it out and use a knife to cut thin strips for ribbon. Attach the white fondant ribbon to the presents with a small dab of water. Then attach the snowflake sprinkles the same way.
Remember, use dense cupcakes instead of light and fluffy ones so the trees will not want to tip.
Or skip the candy canes, use the entire sugar cone and make big trees. Then you won’t have to worry.
Eggnog Holiday Cupcakes with a Spiced Rum Buttercream
I saved the best for last. I made this last year and although they weren’t photo-perfect like those from Bakersroyale.com, they were so delicious that no one cared what they looked like. Note to self: always add spiced rum to buttercream icing.
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup eggnog
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Spice Rum Buttercream:
5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup spiced rum
To make cupcake:
Measure out flour and set aside.
Add sugar and butter in a bowl and cream on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs in 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the eggnog and vanilla to start. Mix after addition until incorporated-do not overbeat.
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes from tins to cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make Spice Rum Buttercream:
Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 160 degrees F while whisking constantly.
Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed (speed 8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) until mixture cools and doubles in volume and forms stiff peaks; about 10-12 minutes).
Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking at first-this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again.
Add salt and spiced rum and mix to combine.
Pipe icing on in swirls and add gold sprinkles.
Don’t these recipes motivate you to bring cupcakes to your next party? Here are a few great kitchen tools you can use to make cupcakes this weekend.
Main photo from cupcakesaremynewlove.com