Spiced Christmas cupcakes with meringue trees
We’ve put a festive spin on a party favourite with these Christmas cupcakes. They’re lightly spiced and topped with impressive meringue trees.
Note: + Cooling time
- 100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (250ml) milk
- 125g butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
- 3 Coles Australian Free Range Eggs
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
- 1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder
- Gingerbread biscuits, to decorate
- 3 Coles Australian Free Range Egg whites
- 3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
- Green gel food colouring
- Confetti sprinkles, to decorate
- 250g butter, softened
- 3 cups (480g) icing sugar mixture
- 1 tbs milk
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 18 holes of two 1/3-cup (80ml) muffin pans with paper cases. Place the chocolate and milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Set aside for 15 mins to cool.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the mixed spice, cinnamon, vanilla and orange rind and stir to combine. Add the combined flour, cocoa powder and chocolate mixture, in batches, stirring after each addition. Divide the mixture evenly among the paper cases. Bake for 20-25 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centres of the cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and set aside to cool.
To make the meringue trees, preheat oven to 100°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Use a clean electric mixer to whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tbs at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the sugar completely dissolves (see tip, below).
Divide the mixture into 2 even portions. Use the green food colouring to tint 1 portion dark green and the remaining portion pale green. Place the portions in separate piping bags fitted with 1.5cm fluted nozzles. Pipe dark green and pale green discs onto the tray. Pipe a smaller disc onto the first disc, alternating between the different shades of green. Repeat once more to make triple-layered meringue trees (see tip, below). Sprinkle with the sprinkles. Bake for 11/2 hours or until dry to the touch. Turn the oven off. Leave the meringues in the oven, with the door ajar, for 1 hour to cool completely.
To make the buttercream, use a clean electric mixer to beat the butter in a large bowl until very pale. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the milk and beat until combined. Place the buttercream in a clean piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe the buttercream over the cupcakes. Top with meringue trees and gingerbread biscuits to serve.
Get ahead: Make the cupcakes, without icing, up to 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Make meringues up to 3 days ahead and store in separate airtight containers at room temperature.