Christmas Cupcakes

Happy Christmas Eve!!

Ooh so exciting!

In the Edmond's house Christmas is dictated by tradition.

Each year Jack and I get a new Christmas decoration to hang on the tree. However in order to decorate the tree the whole family must be together and Christmas with Bing MUST be playing.

But the best traditions are the ones kept for the big day itself.

Even though Jack and I are 18 and 20 we still get our Christmas stockings filled with treats. Unfortunately due to our more nocturnal sleeping patterns they do not magically appear at the foot of our beds during the night and instead are found outside our doors.

For as long as I can remember both Jack and I ignore our primal urges to sleep in and wake up at the crack of dawn. Whoever wakes up first has to run into the other's room and jump on their bed and say 'Santas been, Santas been!'.

Then we sit there on our beds going through our stockings and begin the munching on treats. Funnily enough the oranges, which we get every year without fail, are eaten last.

Then at about 6.50am we creep downstairs and put the kettle on. You see our Mum and Dad have some rules: no waking them up before 7 and in order to enter their room we must bring with us two cups of tea before we can show them what Santa brought us.

We grab their stockings (yes Mum and Dad get stockings too) and the tea and bound into their room. We all sit on their bed whilst we show them the night's loot. Then they go through theirs and without fail Mum's annual stash of macadamia nuts is opened. Something that isn't opened is Dad's jar of gherkins.

There is a funny story about these gherkins. Apparently when Dad was a kid, each of his siblings got a type of preserved produce like prunes, picked onions or in Dad's case, gherkins. I can't remember what the fourth item was.

So back in 2001 as a 9 year old, I relabelled the jar. Mum and Dad thought it was so hilarious that a new jar has never been purchased. Last Christmas we celebrated its 10th birthday. So once Dad pulls them out of his stocking, they return to the pantry for another year.

In order to go and open the presents under the tree we must then bring Mum and Dad a second cup of tea each. Once that happens everyone takes their place in the lounge around the tree.

Dad sits by the tree. He is the official present hander outer. Mum is always on the couch opposite the tree with Jack sitting beside her. I am on the couch beside the tree. I am the present assistant.

One by one Dad hands out the presents and we all watch while the present receiver opens their gift. This process lasts around 40 minutes. The older we get the less presents there are to open so we try and make them last.

The best presents are always the ones where we surprise Dad. Two Christmases ago Mum and I surprised Dad with an iPad. We wrapped it up in a huge apple (as in the actual fruit) box to try and trick him. When he got through the layers and then came to the small iPad shaped box he stopped in his tracks. He just stared at all of us in absolute disbelief. A few tears came out of his eyes. It was kind of hilarious to see someone so stoked with a gift.

I think the best present I ever got other than my Baby Born doll, Rosie, was my handmade recipe book that Mum had made for me. It is hand bound and made of hand made paper. It was given to be the Christmas before I left for Otago. Before then Mum and I shared with messy ring bound exercise book which had all our favourite recipes written and glued into it. She realised that upon my departure there would be a custody dispute over it. So she took some of the pictures from it, copied them and this lady incorporated them into the design. It was the best thing ever.

This book is filled with special recipe like my Nana's Christmas cake recipe which I got her to hand write.

I think Christmas cake is one of the best foods at Christmas time. Forget mince pies, ham and scorched almonds. The cake is where it's at. Of course it needs to be covered in the white and almond icing.

I found this recipe in the Christmas section of my Hummingbird Cake Days book. It uses fruit cake fruit, a nice dosing of the festive alcohol of your fancy and some delicious almond flavoured icing.

This recipe said to use rum to soak the fruit in. Unfortunately (very unfortunately) we did not have rum in the house hold and I thought Mum's stash of gin wouldn't be quite the same. Nana's cake recipe always uses sherry or brandy so I decided to substitute the rum for sherry to give it a more Edmond's family twist.

I also thing fruit cakes should be nice and dense with fruit so I used more fruit that it said. I also added a few more Christmas cakey spices and flavours such as almond and a bit of brandy essence.

Mum thinks these are better the day after you make them as they don't dry out like normal cupcakes. Try making the cake the day before you need them but ice them on the day.

I also didn't have any dark brown sugar, only normal lightly coloured stuff. This made the cakes not as rich in colour as I would have liked but they still tasted amazing.

Christmas Cupcakes
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days book 
Makes 22

400g dried mixed fruit
100 ml rum/brandy/sherry
200g softened butter
200g soft dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
160g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
60g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
a few drops of brandy essence

For the icing:
500g icing sugar
100g softened butter
50ml whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond essence

First soak the dried fruit in the rum/sherry/brandy for 30 minutes or overnight (overnight would be best).

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees on bake.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale brown and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. Beat until very fluffy. Add the essences. If the mixture looks like it is about to split, throw in a  few tablespoons of flour to help stabilise it.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices then add to the egg, butter and sugar mix. Mix until combined.

Add in the ground almonds and then the fruit and rum mix. The mixture will be quite sloppy.

Transfer some of the mixture into a pouring jug and fill a muffin tin lined with cupcake cases until each case is two thirds full.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean or the sponge bounces back when pressed.

Once cooked, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once fully cooled, cream together the icing ingredients until light and fluffy. More milk or icing sugar might need to be added. Make sure you sift the icing sugar especially if you plan on piping the icing on.

decorate with some festive sprinkles and enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy x