I love Christmas. Like LOVE Christmas. And I’m definitely a “more is more” kind of girl when it comes to Christmas decorations. My tree often goes up mid-November and has, once, delighted my home and heart with its twinkly lights until February. Only once though… I usually force myself to do away with the magic and sparkle a bit earlier. Albeit reluctantly, I must add. I’ve been looking forward to this Christmas for another reason – to try these gorgeous little Meringue Santa Hats. My sister-in-law found the recipe a few months ago while clearing out old magazines. Around the time I was making these, I had to bake a chocolate cake and some chocolate cupcakes for my sister to spoil her work colleagues with, and so it happened that these cute little Christmas tree Cupcakes came to be. I’m including the recipe for them too, in case you fancy trying them as well!
MERINGUE SANTA HATS
YOU WILL NEED:
Equipment: An electric mixer with a whisk attachment, two piping bags – one with a large star nozzle (I use disposable ones)
- 4 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup caster sugar
- Red gel food colour
- 200g white cooking chocolate, broken up in to blocks
- 1½ cups finely shredded coconut
Heat oven to 105°C and line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.
- Beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the cream of tartar, then increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting 4 to 5 seconds between additions
- Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating until the meringue forms stiff glossy peaks
- Transfer 1 cup of the white meringue mixture to a small piping bag with a small round tip and set aside (I simply snipped the tip off a disposable bag at approximately 5mm wide.)
- With the mixer running, add the food colour to the remaining meringue and tint to desired colour.
- Transfer the red mixture to a piping bag with a large star tip. Pipe Santa hats onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1cm apart.
- Using the reserved plain meringue, top each peak with a blob (for the cotton ball).
- Bake the meringues until no longer tacky but still soft, 60 to 65 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely on the sheet.
- Once cool, melt the white chocolate in the microwave.
- Dip the cotton ball in white chocolate, then cover in coconut.
- Immediately after, dip the bottom ½cm of each Santa hat into the melted chocolate. Scrape off any excess, then coat in the coconut as well. Transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheets and allow to set.
CHOCOLATE CAKE / CUPCAKES
As mentioned in the Chocolate Almond Cake recipe, I have a good, flop-free chocolate sponge cake which I often make. It works as a tray bake or a layer cake or, when made up 1½ times as I did in this instance (quantities in brackets), it makes 12 cupcakes as well as a good sized layer cake.
YOU WILL NEED:
Equipment: An electric mixer, two 20cm cake tins (I like using loose base ones), a cupcake tin and cupcake cases, an ice cream scoop for measuring cupcake mixture into cases, a piping bag
Ingredients for the cake:
- 3 cups cake flour (4½ cups)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder (6 tsp)
- 2 cups sugar (3 cups)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (1½ tsp)
- 80 ml cocoa (120ml)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups boiled water (3 cups)
- 1 cup oil (1½ cups)
- 50ml vinegar (75ml)
- 10ml vanilla (15ml)
Ingredients for the frosting:
- 400g very soft butter
- 800g icing sugar
- 80ml cocoa powder
- Green gel colour
For the cake:
Preheat your oven to 180ºC and prepare baking tins (spray generously with Spray & Cook, line bottoms with baking paper and place cupcake cases in the cupcake tray).
- Sift and mix all the dry ingredients together.
- In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
- Scoop a level spoonful of mixture into each cupcake case and bake for 12-15 minutes.
- While cupcakes are baking, divide the remaining mixture between the 2 cake tins.
- Once cupcakes are done, bake the large cakes for 30-35 min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For the frosting:
- Combine the butter and icing sugar.
- Scoop out approximately 1 cup of frosting and colour green with the gel colour. Set aside.
- Add cocoa powder to remaining frosting and mix well.
- Once cakes are completely cooled, layer the cake rounds – separating them with chocolate frosting. Frost the top and sides of cakes as desired.
- Scoop the green frosting into the piping bag and pipe a little cone-shaped Christmas tree onto each cupcake.
- Decorate your tree as desired – I used a little star sprinkle for the top of each tree and 100’s and 1000’s as baubles.