I regularly make these Christmas Reindeer cupcakes for my sister Brett's birthday which falls a few days before Christmas. They're a cute idea for the Christmas table...you could whip up a batch today. Just make sure you have a packet of traditionally-shaped pretzels on hand.
- caster sugar - 1 1/2 cups (300g)
- vegetable oil - 1 1/2 cups (375ml)
- eggs - 2 free-range or organic, at room temperature
- vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- bright red food colouring - 2 teaspoons (or more, if you like a really bright red colour)
- plain flour - 2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
- cocoa - 3 tablespoons
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
- buttermilk - 1 cup (250ml)
- white vinegar - 2 teaspoons
- bi-carbonate of soda - 3/4 teaspoon
- Philadelphia cream cheese - 375, softened
- unsalted butter - 125g, softened
- vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- icing sugar - 4 cups, sifted (or more if required)
- pretzels - traditional shape, approx 24
- white chocolate - approx 125g, melted
- assorted red and green Christmas decorations - such as glace cherries, silver cachous, red sugar, Santas etc
Preheat oven to 180degC. Line 24 medium size muffin tins with paper cups.
Beat together the sugar and oil on high speed until combined. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and food colouring. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and add in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat well to combine after each addition. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and bi-carbonate of soda until it foams. Add to the mixture and beat well to combine.
Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Spread with frosting when cool.
For the reindeer antlers: dip the top of each pretzel into melted white chocolate, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and leave to set in the fridge.
Frosting: beat the softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until well combined. Beat in the icing sugar until you achieve the consistency you like. Pipe or spread frosting onto tops of cooled cupcakes. If you would like the frosting to be firmer, add more icing sugar or stir through some melted white chocolate before spreading or piping.
Decorate each one with a pretzel, add eyes and nose for reindeers - or decorate as you wish.