Kneading + Knives Does Christmas – Sparkling Cranberry Cupcakes

As I don’t have a family of my own (as in a husband and kids), I don’t really have many traditions that are truly mine or that have lasted more than a couple years before dying out.

One of my favourite traditions that I do have is baking with my little friend B – either decorating cupcakes or cookies, for the holidays (and once, a painfully long, from scratch, gingerbread house trio project that I will never do again) as briefly seen in my shortbread post.  The other is an annual baking challenge with my hair stylist, Guy.

Every year, in the time between my birthday and holiday hair appointments, we finalize the theme for this challenge.  The first year was gingerbread.  This year, our fifth, was wine.  Hence the cupcake I adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I adapted her Fresh-Squeezed Mimosa Cupcakes to be a bit more festive and topped it off with some sugared cranberries and festive sprinkles.

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I think they may be the prettiest cupcakes I have ever made…and looking at the pics makes me smile.  And yes, of course they tasted great, too.

I am already thinking of next year – possible themes and if I can get the cupcakes to be as pretty as Guy makes me once our visit has concluded.

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Sparkling Cranberry Cupcakes – adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

yields approximately 15 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/3 cup (80g) full-fat sour cream1
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) champagne (use your favorite)

Champagne Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (180ml) champagne (use your favorite)
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480ml) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • small pinch of salt
  • sugared cranberries for decoration – optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 3 liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the orange zest and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour the cranberry juice and champagne in until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: In a small saucepan, bring the champagne to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until reduced down to 1/4 cup, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. You want it room temperature or cold.
  6. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low at first then increasing to high speed. Once incorporated, add the next cup. Once creamy and combined, beat in 3 Tablespoons of the reduced champagne and the vanilla extract. Taste. Add the remaining reduced champagne if needed– and a pinch of salt if you’d like.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes. Garnish with sugared cranberries or whatever sprinkles you have on hand, if desired.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

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