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.
Line a cupcake tray (for 12 cupcakes) with cupcake cases.
Dissolve cocoa powder in boiling hot water, mixing until a smooth paste is obtained. Leave aside to cool.
Sift together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, chilly powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar into a large bowl.
Add butter, eggs, and the cooled cocoa powder paste to the flour mixture.
Whisk on medium to high speed for ~60 seconds (using either a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, or whisk beaters on a hand mixer), until a homogeneous batter forms.
Use a spoon or an ice-cream scoop to fill the cupcake cases ~2/3 full with the cupcake batter.
Bake in the preheated oven at 340 ºF (170 ºC) for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before piping on the buttercream.
Beat butter and 1/2 of the icing sugar for 5 minutes with either a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, or with whisk beaters on a hand mixer.
Add 1 tbsp of milk and the other 1/2 of icing sugar. Beat for an additional 5 – 7 minutes until pale and fluffy.
Add cocoa powder and red food colouring, mixing for ~1 – 2 minutes, until evenly incorporated into the buttercream.
Assembling the cupcakes:
Pipe the buttercream onto cooled cupcakes, with a large round nozzle.
Make the Rudolphs by decorating with pretzels, red M&M's, and googly eyes.
The cupcakes can be kept in a closed container in a cool dry place for ~3 days (so not going to happen, they will disappear before you can say 'Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer').
Note 1: You can use cayenne pepper instead of chilly powder. The amount given is a guideline, increase or decrease it according to taste.Note 2: I made googly eyes by melting white and dark chocolate in the microwave (at medium power for 2 1/2 minutes for each chocolate batch). Pipe white chocolate circles, about 8 mm in diameter, onto a tray lined with baking/greaseproof paper, and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight until firm. Unstick the white chocolate circles and turn them around so that the smooth flat side faces up. Use a toothpick or a chopstick to dot little circles of melted dark chocolate onto the white chocolate pieces. Return to the fridge for a few hours until the dark chocolate firms up. Alternatively, skip all the steps, and buy the googly eyes from your local baking shop or online.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).