A great alternative to traditional Christmas cake, especially for parties, these offer a more subtle take on festive flavours.
I’ve based these on the classic Starbucks holiday drink (in spite of the fact that I am very anti-Starbucks. I’d rather support smaller businesses) and they do taste surprisingly similar to it.
I haven’t used any black treacle or molasses in the sponge because I wanted them to be lighter than traditional gingerbread or parkin so they have more of a golden colour too. Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your own taste, you could even get away with adding a splash of spiced rum and if you’re a real coffee fiend then the frosting will easily take a little extra coffee in it.
makes about 18
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp hot water
125g dark brown sugar
175g golden syrup
100ml warm milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground allspice
350g icing sugar
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
Begin by preheating the oven to 180°c and lining your cupcake tins with suitably festive wrappers. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water and set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy before beating in the eggs and then the syrup.
Stir in the warm milk, vanilla paste and the bicarbonate of soda mixture. Sift all of the dry ingredients into this wet mixture and stir it all together. Beat it for a few minutes with an electric mixer to make it as light as possible.
Spoon the sponge batter into the cupcake wrappers, so that they are about 1/2-3/4 full. Bake for around 20 minutes, until they are well risen, golden on top and your kitchen smells like Christmas.
Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the frosting.
Warm the milk or cream a little and dissolve the coffee powder in it. Set aside to cool a bit. Beat the butter until soft and then stir the icing sugar into it along with the vanilla paste and the coffee-cream. Continue to beat until you have a light fluffy frosting. Pipe onto the cooled gingerbread sponges and decorate with a little dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon or festive sprinkles.