It’s almost 5 weeks until Christmas and my thoughts are certainly turning towards all of the fun and delicious treats which are so abundant at this time of year.
I have lots of great Christmas themed recipe ideas that I’m looking forward to sharing with you over the coming weeks as we creep ever closer to the festivities. You can look forward to a tutorial for decorating your own Christmas cake, homemade confectionery ideas which are great boxed up as small gifts to family, friends, and neighbours, and even a surprise inside cake, along with some Christmas dessert alternatives and lots of other ideas too! I just hope I find enough hours in the day to share all of the recipes with you!
To start things off, my first Christmas recipe for the year are these fun Christmas Robin Cupcakes!
They’re super easy to make, with most of the fondant shapes having been cut with plain round cookie cutters. I can imagine children enjoying lending a helping hand if you decide to give them a try! And being made around the popular chocolate orange flavour combination they’re incredibly tasty too, but of course these Christmas themed cupcakes would work with so many flavour combos.
This fun cupcake recipe consists of a beautifully light orange flavoured cupcake which is topped with a layer of chocolate orange ganache before the fondant robin decoration is applied. To add to the yummy chocolate flavour, the brown fondant of the robin’s body and wings is shaped from chocolate flavoured fondant! Now I must admit that if you were to try a small piece of chocolate fondant on its own you’re likely to find it quite dark and ‘cocoa-y’ (or at least both Mr E & I do) but once eaten with the orange sponge and ganache the intense chocolate flavour of the fondant is balanced out.
So, here’s how to make Christmas Robin Cupcakes!
Christmas Robin Cupcakes
For the chocolate ganache
- 120 ml double cream (4floz)
- 120 g terry’s chocolate orange (4oz)
For the Cupcakes
- 150 g butter unsalted & softened (5oz)
- 75 g caster sugar (3oz)
- 75 g golden syrup (3oz)
- 3 medium egg lightly beaten (see note a below)
- small pinch of salt
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 150 g self-raising flour (5oz)
- 1 – 2 tbsp milk
- 250 g chocolate flavoured fondant icing (9oz)
- 80 g red fondant see note d below (3oz)
- small amount of yellow Ffondant
- small amount of white fondant
- small amount of black fondant
To make the chocolate ganache.
- Pour the cream into a small pan and set over a medium heat. Allow the cream to heat through but avoid letting it boil. Meanwhile chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place into a bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate. Use a teaspoon to stir the ganache, gradually the chocolate will melt and the ganache will become smooth. Once the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth, set aside to cool and firm up. You may need to place it in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 190℃ / Fan 170℃ / 375℉ / Gas 5. Place the muffin sized cases into the muffin tray.
To make the cupcakes.
- Place the soft butter and sugars into a good sized bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until very pale and fluffy. Add the salt and orange extract and beat again to combine. Gradually add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition, (see note b below). Beat in the milk. Sieve the flour into the mixture. Use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold this in gently. You’re aiming for a nice dropping consistency. Add a little more milk if required.
- Fill the muffin cases & bake. Using a teaspoon, fill the cases with the batter mixture. You’re aiming for them to be half to two-thirds full. You may decide to weigh each muffin to ensure equal sizes. Each will weigh about 63g. Place the muffin tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 – 23 minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after 15 minutes of baking. Once baked, remove from the oven and muffin tray and place onto a cooling rack.
- Do this once the ganache has firmed up so that it is spreadable and the cupcakes are completely cool. Place a teaspoon amount of the chocolate ganache on top of the cupcake and spread it out either with a knife or the back of the teaspoon. There’s no need to take the ganache all the way to the edge of the cupcakes.
- Roll out the chocolate fondant. Knead the chocolate fondant a little until it is pliable. Roll it out using a little cornflour on the work surface to prevent it from sticking (you may find it easier just to roll half or quarter of the pack rather than all of it at once). Regularly give the fondant a quarter turn though avoid flipping it over. You’re aiming for it to be 2-3mm thick. Cut out discs of the chocolate fondant using the larger cutter. Place one of the discs onto the cupcake. Use the plump area at the base of your thumb to gently press and neaten the edges of the disc into the cupcake.
- Roll out the red fondant for the robin’s breast. Work the red fondant in the same way as before. Roll it out – but thinner than the chocolate fondant. Use the large cutter to cut a disc of fondant. Using the slightly smaller cutter, cut the red fondant disc to create an oval shape (one half of the oval will have been shaped with the larger disc and the other half will have been shaped with the slightly smaller cutter.) Apply a small amount of water with a small brush used only for food preparation to the area of the cupcake where the red fondant will be positioned. Place the oval of red fondant onto the cupcake so that the side of the oval which was cut with the larger cutter sits against the edge of the cupcake. Use the plump area at the base of your thumb to gently secure the red fondant in place.
- Shape the robin’s eyes. Roll out a small amount of white fondant about 2mm thick and cut out 2 round discs (see note e below). Apply a small amount of water to the cupcake where the eyes will be positioned. Affix the white discs to the cupcake. Roll a small amount of black fondant between your hands to create a ball (at least half the size of a petit pois). Place the black ball of fondant onto the white disc, use the pad of your finger to squash it gently to create the round pupil. Try to ensure that both pupils are a similar size.
- Create the robin’s beak. Roll out some yellow fondant about 2mm thick. Use a non serrated knife to cut an oblong shape. Use the knife to cut out a yellow triangle from the oblong. Again apply a small amount of water onto the fondant robin to affix the beak in position.
- Shape the robin’s wings. Roll out some of the chocolate fondant. Using the larger cookie cutter cut out a disc. Use the smaller cutter to cut slender oval shapes in the same way as with the red fondant for the robin’s breast (though the wings need to be narrower). You should be able to cut out 4 wings from each large disc. Once a small amount of water has been applied to the area where the wings will be positioned, put the brown fondant oval into place (again with the side of the oval cut from the larger cookie cutter butting up to the edge of the cupcake.). Consider curling the ‘fingers’ of the wings upwards to create some ‘movement’ in the robin.
- 10 Muffin sized cupcake cases
- muffin tin
- 78mm & 68mm Round Cookie Cutters (see note c below)
- Rolling pin (ideally a plastic one suitable for fondant work)
- Small brush used for food preparation only
Cook's Tipsa) When making the cupcake batter, consider weighing the cracked eggs first to ensure the batter has equal weight of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Simply weigh the butter, sugar and flour to the same weight as the eggs. Of course the value may be slightly different to the 115g listed in the ingredients above. b) Consider warming your lightly beaten eggs over a bain marie especially if they feel particularly cold. Warm them until they feel lukewarm. This should help prevent the batter from curdling and produce a better cupcake sponge. c) These robins cupcakes would work as fairy cakes too. Use a cutter which is very slightly larger than your cake and another cutter which is one size smaller. d) When purchasing the fondant (particularly the red) check to ensure it is suitable for vegetarians if baking for those following a meat free diet. e) Cut the white of the robin’s eyes with either a small plunger cutter or, if you don’t have one available, the wide end of a large piping nozzle (for instance) works well. f) Ball up off-cuts of fondant and cover it over. g) Use a dry brush to wipe away any cornflour from the finished cupcake.
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