Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream

Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream – Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a delicately flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas!

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Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream - Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a lightly flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas! | thehecticcook.com

I love Christmas. Like, LOVE Christmas. I am one of those folk who starts getting excited in October; who changes their playlist to their ‘Christmas playlist’ in November (everyone has a Christmas playlist right?); and has the tree up punctually on the 1st of December. The Husband thinks I’m hilarious – he tries to be all Bah Humbug but I’m sure he secretly likes it. And since having kids, Christmas has just gotten even better. They’re at an age where they still all fervently believe in the big man. We have an elf (oh yes, we’ve joined the legions of parents panically moving a little felt toy around the house every night), we’ve watched Christmas movies (this is totally indulgent for me to be honest), they’ve made Christmas cards (in Alice’s case, about 10 each for her teacher and TA because they didn’t have any – I hope they’re feeling special),  and they are so excited I’m just waiting for one of them to pop.

There are certain foods that go hand-in-hand with Christmas for me. I always start making sausage rolls around this time. We currently have a freezer full, ready to bake whenever the need arises (pretty much every lunchtime in the Husband’s case). If you haven’t already, do check out my sausage roll recipe here (and team them with my Quick & Simple Lentil Soup).

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

I started making these cupcakes years ago, it was another Delicious magazine recipe. They’re a lovely alternative to mince pies, lighter too, whilst still getting that mincemeat hit. If you’re not a fan of mince pies, but like dried fruit and the gentle spices of mincemeat, these cupcakes could be your perfect option. They’re really simple to make, and you can decorate them however you’d like, they don’t have to be fancy.

Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream - Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a lightly flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas! | thehecticcook.com

I’m not a fan of brandy, or anything alcoholic near my sugar fix to be honest. Chocolate and liqueur? Bleugh. Boozey trifle?  Wrong-diddley-wrong. Your taking two perfectly good things and completely spoiling them. In my humble opinion. However. When I first made these cupcakes I was making them as a gift, so figured I’d shove in the brandy as per the recipe since they weren’t for me (I’m a totally selfish cook by the way). I did have a little old taste test though. And by jove, these are better with the brandy buttercream. I promise. It’s only a subtle flavour, but it lends itself exceptionally well to the mince pie cakes.

Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream - Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a lightly flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas! | thehecticcook.com

If you have to take a sweet bite anywhere this Christmas, you can’t go far wrong with these cupcakes. I actually made them for my kids’ teachers and TAs. Four teachers and three TAs, I made a box for each class which is possibly a bit cheap, but at this time of year any saving is a bonus!

Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream - Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a lightly flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas! | thehecticcook.com

Happy Christmas!

Ingredients
Cupcake:

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
250g mincemeat
210g self-raising flour
25g cornflour

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (fan 160C/gas 4), and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases (Christmas theme optional – but preferable).
  2. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl, and cream together using an electric mixer until pale (if you don’t have an electric mixer, you need one to make good cakes – that or mega biceps as you’ll be hand mixing for ages…).
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each time. Fold in the mincemeat and stir until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and cornflour (being sure to sprinkle the baking powder and cornflour evenly over the flour to avoid clumps – this negates the need to sift). Fold in.
  5. Fill each cupcake case about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-23 minutes until risen and golden.
  6. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely.
Buttercream:

250g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
approx. 2 tbsp brandy

  1. Add the butter and icing sugar to the bowl of a mixer, then beat until you have beautifully pale and light buttercream. The trick is to beat this for a while. You are not going to over-beat it. Buttercream takes at least 5 minutes on a high speed. If not longer. Just keep going, scraping down the sides every so often. (note: if you don’t have a mixer, you can do this with a handheld electric mixer, it will take a while though, and you won’t quite get the light and fluffy buttercream)
  2.  Beat the brandy into the buttercream, taste, and add more as required. It should be a subtle taste, but it really sets off the mince pie cupcakes.
  3. Top your cupcakes with the buttercream.

Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream - Gorgeously light and fluffy mince pie flavoured sponge topped with a lightly flavoured brandy buttercream. The perfect cupcake for Christmas! | thehecticcook.com

 

Homemade Sausage Rolls

Homemade Sausage Rolls – You haven’t had a sausage roll until you’ve had a homemade sausage roll!

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

I always make sausage rolls at Christmas. I don’t know if it’s just me, but to me sausage rolls mean Christmas. We tend to have them on the big day itself, either as a light lunch or a late supper, depending on when we have the main event (this has changed over the years from early afternoon to dinner time – I like it later as it gives me the whole day to prep/eat/drink – I once drank a whole bottle of prosecco whilst making Christmas dinner….but I digress). You get some lovely shop-bought sausage rolls, but if you’ve never made your own, you’re honestly missing out. These are really tasty, and really simple.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

Let’s talk pastry. I usually buy the shop stuff. It’s good; it’s easy; it’s convenient. Nine times out of ten, I’ll use a nice block of shop-bought puff pastry. However. During a rather enthusiastic baking spell a few years back, I decided to make my own. How hard could it be? The answer is actually not hard at all. Don’t go believing the theatrics of GBBO. Making puff pastry is not particularly hard. It does take a bit of time, but most of that is to chill the pastry. So I’ve written a separate post here about making puff pastry. However, if you can’t be bothered with that just use a block from the shop.

Ingredients (makes about 24)

500g block of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
plain flour for dusting

Filling:

400-500g sausagemeat
50g breadcrumbs
sage, about 6 leaves chopped or 1 heaped tsp of dried
1 small apple, grated
seasoning
2 tbsp ketchup/caramelised onion chutney/condiment of choice (optional)

Notes:

  • Quantity of sausage meat is not exact because different shops sell it in different sized packs, so use whatever you have between those quantities (mine was 400g on this occasion).
  • The last ingredient is totally your call. Sometimes I like some extra flavour to my sausage rolls, sometimes I just like to leave them traditional. You could even split the filling and add extra flavour to one portion whilst leaving a portion plain. The choice is yours (on this occasion I added 2 tbsp of ketchup – saves having to dunk them once they’re made). 

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (fan) / 425°F / Gas 7.

2. In a large bowl mix the filling ingredients together with your hands. Season well.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

3. Take your pastry out of the fridge. Cut it in half, and roll the first half out on a lightly floured surface to about a 42x10cm rectangle.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

4. Take half of your filling and squeeze it out into a long log shape, placing it in the middle of your pastry strip.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

5. Brush both long edges with the beaten egg, then fold one side over, followed by the second side, and seal well.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

6. Turn the long roll over so the sealed edge is underneath, and place on a tray. Repeat the process for the second roll, then place the tray in the fridge for about 10 minutes to chill.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

7. Take out of the fridge and cut each into about 12 pieces (or whatever size you like for your sausage rolls). Space out on your baking tray (I tend to spray my tray with cooking oil before placing the sausage rolls on it to prevent them sticking) and brush each roll with the beaten egg.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

8. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

If you can resist eating about 5 of these straight out of the oven then you’re a better person than me!

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

Freezing

You can also make these to freeze, which is really handy at this time of year:

After cutting them up and brushing with the egg (step 7), place them on a tray, slightly spaced apart, then place them in the freezer for about an hour. No need to cover. Once they’re frozen take them out and pop them in a freezer bag, seal and place the bag back in the freezer until you need them. When you want to cook them, place them on a tray and pop in the oven (same temps) for 30-35 minutes until golden and cooked through. No need to egg wash as you’ve already done this. Easy!

Homemade Sausage Rolls - You haven't had a sausage roll until you've had a homemade sausage roll! | thehecticcook.com

If you’ve got a Christmas party this year that you need to take a nibble to, make some of these, and I promise they will go down well.

Happy cooking!