This is the first time I´ve ever made a Christmas Cake so I stuck completely to Hannah Miles recipe from her book Big Book of Cakes and Cookies so therefore I haven´t included the recipe on this blog post. Usually the dried fruit in the Christmas Cake is soaked in brandy but in Hannah´s recipe, amaretto (which I absolutely love) is used instead. The smell of the fruit the following morning was heavenly, both Christmassy and almondy at the same time!
Many of the ingredients Mum had brought over from England for me but I had overlooked a couple of the ingredients such as mixed spice and self-raising flour so I had to make my own. I just used normal flour and added about a 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. I found the following mixed spice recipe on the BBC Good Food website, which I used to make up my own mixed spice (I had to leave out the mace as I didn´t have this spice and it´s not a spice that´s easy to find in Spain but it hopefully shouldn´t make too much of a difference).
These Halloween cupcakes are well overdue now as I made them on Halloween itself for our Halloween party. They are slightly adapted from my cupcake calender and despite the decorating part being a bit fiddly, they went down a treat. With the cupcakes containing pumpkin puree and the addition of spices such as cinnamon and allspice, they are definitely a taste of autumn and Halloween!
Ingredients (makes around 16 medium sized cupcakes)
1 300g jar of pumpkin pieces (it´s very difficult to find here in Spain, I found it in Aldi but nearly ended up having to leave the pumpkin out which wouldn´t have been the same!)(use all pumpkin pieces but only added a little of juice from the jar)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups sugar (preferably caster)
1/2 cup olive oil (mild is best so doesn´t affect taste of cupcakes)
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 cup milk
orange & black fondant
Halloween cookie cutters
1. Puree the pumpkin pieces with a little of syrup/juice from jar in a blender-should make about 1 cup.
2.Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and place cupcake cases in muffin tray.
3. Mix all dry ingredients together.
4. Beat oil, eggs and milk in a large bowl and add pumpkin puree.
5. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir till well combined.
6.Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 20-30 mins (depending on your oven).
7.When cool, brush with apricot jam. Cut out black and orange fondant circles using cookie cutters and stick on top of cupcakes.
8. Using Halloween cookie cutters cut out Halloween shapes in orange and black fondant. Brush with apricot jam and stick on top of fondant circles and voila you have some cute, scary(ish) Halloween cupcakes!
I used some Halloween cookie cutters I got at Target when I was in the USA, which were great for this project.However, it was a little fiddly as you had to cut out the eyes, nose and mouth with a knife so patience was definitely a virtue! Also, the cupcakes didn´t rise very much so I´m not sure if this was due to using olive oil but they tasted great,which is the main thing!
I then covered the top of the cake with the yellow buttercream and then with a chocolate icing pen I had, I piped the outline of the face, the eyes, mouth and eyebrows. I then used chocolate hundreds and thousands/sprinkles to fill in the hairline. Not an easy job as they tended to fall wherever, not where you wanted them to fall! Using a piping bag, I outlined the mouth with the red buttercream and then coloured in the mouth. I then completed the face with large jelly beans for the eyes ( looking back really I think they were too big for the irises!), a marshmellow for the cheek and a blackberry sweet for the nose. The ears were a bit tricky to assemble too. I used 3 digestive biscuits for each ear,which I tried to stick together using the chocolate icing. I also tried to stick a toothpick between the biscuits which I then inserted into the cake, which didn´t work too badly but not as well as I had hoped!