150g (51/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
175g (6oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g (6oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
3 tbsp soured cream or milk, at room temperature
100g (31/2oz) white chocolate chips
75g (23/4oz) dried cranberries
1 quantity Meringue Buttercream (see below)
A bag of white chocolate shavings
Red sugar-coated sweets
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/ 350˚F/Gas Mark 4. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light. Gradually add the eggs, mixing well between each addition.
Add the vanilla extract and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add to the egg mixture and mix for 10 seconds. Add the soured cream or milk and mix until smooth.
Put the white chocolate chips and cranberries in a bowl and toss in 1 tablespoon of plain flour. Stir the chocolate chips and cranberries into the cupcake mixture. Place 12–16 red cupcake cases in a muffin tin and fill the cases two-thirds full with the mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then on a wire rack. Spread the Meringue Buttercream generously onto each cupcake. Top with the chocolate curls and a few sweets.
Makes 12–16 cupcakes
200g (7oz) caster sugar
3 egg whites
250g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened and chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until it reaches at least 60˚C/140˚F on a sugar thermometer. Pour into a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use an electric whisk and bowl). Beat until the mixture has doubled in volume, cooled and will stand in stiff peaks – this will take about 3 minutes. Gradually add the butter to the cooled meringue mix, beating constantly, until the frosting is smooth. Fold in the vanilla and use immediately.
Melt 150g (51/2oz) chopped dark chocolate, then leave to cool slightly before stirring into the buttercream at the same time as the vanilla extract.
Adapted from Christmas Cupcakes by Annie Rigg (Ryland Peters & Small, £9.99).