The smell of gingerbread and cinnamon wafting from the kitchen is usually the first hint that the Singita team is gearing up for Christmas. Behind the scenes, recipes are being tested, decorations are being dusted off and carols are being hummed in preparation for the 25th of December. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some ideas for festive food that brings together the charm of a traditional Christmas and the magic of the African bush.
First up is this recipe for indulgent chocolate cupcakes decorated with a string of candy “fairy lights”. It’s a simple but effective idea that would be an enchanting addition to any Christmas table, and the method is easy enough that you can easily rope in the kids for a fun afternoon of cupcake decorating. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the cupcakes:
3 tablespoons coconut or sunflower oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup full fat sour cream
½ cup hot coffee OR hot water
For the vanilla buttercream:
1 cup butter, softened
4½ to 5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla essence
5 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1 black icing pen
2 packets of colourful candy e.g. M&Ms
To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners. Lightly spray the liners with non-stick spray (optional but it does help them peel right off).
2. Melt the oil, butter and chocolate together in the microwave, heating in 30 second increments and stirring between increments each time. You can also melt the oil, butter, and chocolate over very low heat on the stovetop, but we find the microwave to be much easier. Whisk mixture until completely smooth and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.
5. Add the cooled oil/butter/chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
6. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream. Repeat this process until everything is added, and be sure to mix until JUST combined – then quickly stir in the hot coffee/water. It’s important not to over mix, here! Just stir until evenly combined.
7. Divide the batter among the 12 liners in your prepared pan. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Note: Cupcakes stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To make the frosting:
1. In a medium bowl combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, cream/milk and salt and beat for 5 to 7 minutes until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar as needed for thicker frosting.
2. Add cream/milk, a little at a time, to thin the consistency of the frosting.
1. Using a large round tip on a piping bag, pipe buttercream in a swirl onto the cupcakes.
2. Draw a black line around the surface of the frosting with the black icing pen.
3. Stick M&Ms into the side of the cupcakes at regular intervals along the black line.
Looking for more festive baking inspiration? Here’s a recipe for a Hazelnut & Coffee Christmas Cake from Singita Kruger National Park. Here’s a handy baking conversion table if you need it.