Cuteness overload – welcome this Christmas season with these adorable Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes. Ridiculously easy and quick to make, they are chocolatey, with just enough of a kick from the chilly powder. Although they are almost too pretty to eat, they are also too delicious not to!

This is the first recipe in the series ‘The Loopy Christmas 2016’ (all recipes in this series can be found in the recipe index under ‘Christmas’) – watch this space for more Christmas yumminess.

Rudolph Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes - These adorable Christmas cupcakes are ridiculously easy and quick to make, and almost too pretty to eat. But they are also way too delicious not to, with their chocolatey taste and the spiciness from cinnamon, nutmeg and chilly powder.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shinyyyy nooooose. As people who know me, and have had the misfortune of hearing me “sing”, can attest, I have no sense of rhythm or melody whatsoever. But that doesn’t stop me from breaking into Christmas songs at random moments every year when December rolls ‘round. If you were one of the unfortunate people to hear me sing and hum while rushing about in my frantic search for icing sugar, I deeply apologise. And I’m sorry, but it will happen again. Well, the singing and humming part will, though I sincerely hope the craziness that will forever be known (in my mind, at least) as icing-sugar-geddon won’t take place ever again.

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These crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth lemon thyme shortbread cookies combine the sophisticated simplicity of a shortbread biscuit, the zesty bitterness of lemon, and the earthy flavour of thyme. They are incredibly easy to make, and can be an excellent, albeit unconventional, addition to this year’s Christmas cookie spread.

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies - Crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth sweet cookies that combine the zesty bitterness of lemons and the earthy flavour of thyme. Simple to make, and an ideal - if unconventional - addition to this year's Christmas cookie spread.

There are many things that I could blabber on about in this post, but let’s be honest here – we all know there’s only one topic we really want to talk about. And as it’s December the 1st, it’s totally fine to talk about it. You know, Christmas.

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Fluffy chocolate cupcakes and silky mint buttercream, all topped off with extra chocolate chips (because why not?). Ridiculously easy and quick to make, these mint chocolate chip cupcakes will impress, as well as convince everyone you’re amazing at this whole being-an-adult-thing.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes - Fluffy cloud-like chocolate cupcakes, silky-smooth mint buttercream, and extra chocolate chips. These mint chocolate chip cupcakes are dressed-to-impress and oh-so-delicious.

In my mind, the mint-chocolate combo always represented adulthood, or at least a step in that direction. I am convinced it’s all due to mint chocolate thins – you know the ones I’m talking about. The very very thin chocolate pieces with a minty cream in the middle that are kind of bitter and have an almost overwhelming peppermint aftertaste. I bet when you were a kid you saw your parents and their friends enjoy them after dinner at least a few times. The brand I remember seeing the most are the After Eights – always wrapped individually, in a manner similar to tea bags, in dark emerald green wrappers that had a swirly writing on them that seemed ultra-sophisticated to my childish eyes. Nowadays, I do eat (and love) chocolate-mint… well, pretty much anything, really, but don’t feel like much of an adult at all. Perhaps I should eat more mint chocolate things? In any case, these mint chocolate chip cupcakes cannot hurt.

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If fall were a dessert, it would be apple hazelnut frangipane pie bites. Flaky pie crust, gooey hazelnut frangipane, thinly sliced apples with just enough bite to them, and an ample dusting of fragrant cinnamon. This is fall, folks, in the best form there is – the sweet edible kind.

Apple Hazelnut Frangipane Pie Bites - Flaky pie crust, gooey hazelnut frangipane, thinly sliced apples with just enough bite to them, and an ample dusting of fragrant cinnamon. The true taste of fall, in dessert form.

Is it weird that I prefer ‘fall’ to ‘autumn’, but cannot imagine describing the yellow, red, and orange leaves swirling in the wind in any way other than ‘autumnal’? As a non-native English speaker I like to pretend that I am entitled to pick and choose words from British and American English as I please. But regardless of how you want to call it, there is something majestic about this season. While some may perceive it as the season of dying, falling off, giving up, I always think of it as nature’s last hurrah before it gets shrouded in a white fluffy blanket (or a grey wet blanket, if you’re in the UK). There is an undeniable charm in the changing colour scheme of the forests, a subtle quirkiness in the crunch crunch crunch beneath you feet as you stomp through the colourful heaps of leaves, and a mirthful lightness as you kick through those same heaps and the leaves flap erratically around you.

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