Have you all survived Christmas in one piece? I hope so. And that you also had a very lovely time. I myself am wondering when the cut-off point for eating mince pies for breakfast is? I think I can get away with it for a couple more days yet.
Next up is New Year.
Can I tell you a secret? Well, it’s not really a secret. If anyone asks, I gladly tell them. I do not like New Year’s Eve. I don’t. Sorry. Actually, I’m not sorry.
I adore Christmas. The month-long build up. The sparkly lights. The deliciously festive spiced food.
But once it is over, there, staring you in the face like a ominious thunder-cloud, is New Year’s Eve. Ugh.
I don’t have a problem with the beginning of a new year. January and February typically (hopefully) bring snow with them. And there are not many things I like more than snow.
The issue I have with New Year’s Eve is the whole ‘expectation’ thing, as in other people’s expectations. Why do people think that in order to have had a ‘good’ New Year’s Eve you must have a) gone out b) paid three times as much as you would at any other time of year to do so and c) get so drunk you can’t remember what happened.
Sorry people, but that is not my idea of a good time.
I was thinking about what would be my perfect New Year’s Eve and I came to the conclusion that it would be this:
A picturesque log cabin somewhere on a mountain, surrounded by snow. A glass of mulled wine (or two) or maybe a ‘dark & stormy’ cocktail, the sound of a crackling log fire and falling snow, and someone lovely to snuggle up next to (who doesn’t mind if I fall asleep before it gets to midnight). That’s it. That’s all I want New Year’s Eve to be. Quiet and peaceful.
A girl can dream.
For those of you who are either hosting or going to a party, why not consider these little cupcakes?
I can’t believe that this blog is nearly a year old and I haven’t done a cupcake recipe. Shameful. It shall now be rectified.
These cupcakes, in a nod to the cocktail that inspired them, contain a small amount of alcohol. However, it can easily be omitted and they won’t lose any of the flavour. They are quick and easy to put together (minus a little soaking of the cranberries, but if you forget don’t worry, a quick 10 minute soak will be okay) but will have maximum impact. If you are really pushed for time then you can skip the sugar syrup stage, although I do think it is worth doing as it imparts a little extra flavour and moisture.
Note – mine are particularly orange because of the oil I used. If you use normal rapeseed oil, yours will not be quite so vibrant.
For the frosting:
- 100g full-fat cream cheese
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g icing (confectioners) sugar
- Finely grated zest of an orange
- Sprinkles to decorate – optional
For the cakes:
- 50g dried cranberries
- Cointreau liqueur, for soaking (or orange juice if you prefer)
- 70ml Carotino oil (or any rapeseed oil of your choice)
- 100g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of an orange
- 2 eggs
- 100g gluten-free self-raising flour
For the syrup:
- 40ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 40g caster sugar
- Couple of teaspoons of the reserved soaking liqueur (optional)
- Place the dried cranberries in a bowl and pour on enough Cointreau to just cover them. Leave to soak overnight.
- To make the frosting – using either a stand mixer, or by hand, combine all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl. Chill until needed.
- To make the cakes – pre-heat the oven to 175 celsius / 150 fan / 350 fahrenheit. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
- In a bowl combine the oil, sugar and egg. Add the flour and orange zest and mix until combined. The mixture will be quite runny.
- Using a small ice-cream scoop, or a teaspoon, divide the batter between the paper cases, filling them approximately half way.
- Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid, and divide evenly between the cupcakes.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and just firm to the touch.
- While the cupcakes are baking, make the syrup. Place the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add as much or as little of the reserved soaking liquid from the cranberries as you wish. Set aside.
- When the cupcakes are baked, leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then using a pastry brush, soak the tops of the cupcakes with the syrup while they are still warm. You may not need all of the syrup. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely.
- Take the frosting out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before you want to use it and allow it come up to more or less room temperature. You will not be able to pipe it straight from the fridge as it will be too cold, however you don’t want it too soft either.
- Prepare a piping bag with a large star nozzle and fill with the frosting. Pipe a rosette on top of each cupcake and decorate with your chosen sprinkles – if desired.
- Place in a cool place until needed.
Adapted from Peggy Porschen, Boutique Baking.