I saw a picture of something like these a few years back and have been wanting to make my own version of them ever since. The cupcake forms the base of the Christmas tree, wrapped in a brown paddy pan, and the tree itself is formed by a spiral of bright green icing. Of course the tree had to be decorated with little gold sugar baubles. I made tiny little stars by dying a little cookie dough red before cutting and baking, but you could easily cut them out from raspberry roll-ups or other red fruit straps. The cupcake base is designed as a cross between a sticky and a Christmas cake. To keep them light enough to resemble cupcakes, moist enough to whet my appetite (not being a fan of dry old Christmas cake) but still heavy enough to hold up to the icing. I used my favourite combination of dried fruits for such a dish, but you could switch them around if you wanted to add currants or some dried apple. The spiral of green frosting on top could only be brandy butter frosting; of course.
Makes 24 mini cupcakes
|2||tablespoons||dried figs, chopped|
|1/2||teaspoon||bicarbonate of soda|
|1||orange, zest of|
|1||lemon, zest of|
|1/3||cup||dark muscovado sugar*|
|1||cup||self raising flour|
*Replace with dark brown sugar and a teaspoon of treacle
Green tree frosting and decoration
|green food colouring|
|metallic sugar pearls|
|edible gold dust|
|24||edible small red stars|
To make the cupcakes: bring the brandy to the boil in a small saucepan to evaporate the alcohol. Place half the dates, figs and sultanas in a small bowl. Pour the hot brandy over the fruit and leave overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Place the remaining dates, figs and sultanas in a small saucepan with the water and bring to the boil, simmering for about ten minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle over the bi-carb soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and mash with a potato masher. Allow the mixture to cool.
Cream the butter, sugar and citrus zests till light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then fold through the flour before folding in the fruit and almonds.
Line a mini muffin pan with brown paddy cases. Scoop in the mixture so they are filled to just below their capacity (for this recipe, you don’t want ‘muffin tops’). Bake for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To make the frosting: bring the brandy to the boil to evaporate any alcohol, reduce to about a tablespoon. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Using an electric mixer cream the butter till light and fluffy. Continue to beat, while gradually sifting in the icing sugar. Add the cooled brandy and gradually add green food dye until the mixture reaches your desired colour. Scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle.
To decorate: pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes in a gradually decreasing spiral to give you the best chance of your ‘tree’ of frosting will be hollow. Press three metallic sugar pearls into the frosting to resemble Christmas baubles then scatter over some gold glitter. Arrange the red stars on top of the tree and sprinkle over some edible gold dust.