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Hi-hat Christmas Cupcakes


Hello blogosphere! Apologies for my recent lack of posting – this time of year has been just that little too busy on the socialising and cooking front! But thankfully, some of that cooking has been wonderfully festive, so I thought I better blog some of these delicious little treats before Christmas is over.

For the first time ever, this year I tried my hands at making mince pies (I will post these later in the week). Invited to another Christmas function, I offered to bring said mince pies along but was thoroughly rebuffed. Apparently the host and other attendees didn’t like mince pies. Fine. So I had to come up with something else sweet and Christmassy to take along.


My first stop for all things baking is Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess. Honestly, it is probably the cookbook I have used the most over the years and I highly recommend it. Nigella didn’t disappoint and included a recipe for Christmas cupcakes which she even described as a good alternative for those who don’t like mince pies! Win.

The original recipe called for the cupcakes to be topped in fondant, but 1) I didn’t have any fondant on hand and 2) I don’t like fondant. I decided to make an airy, egg white frosting and pipe it high to resemble a Christmas tree. A jaffa lolly on the top completed the Christmas cheer.


These were  a real hit with my mince pie hating friends. They were lightly chocolatey and had a nice spiced flavour that invoked some holiday cheer. I’ll definitely be making these again!

Hi-hat Christmas Cupcakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is from Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess, with a tweak for spelt flour and a little extra chocolate for good measure!
The frosting is a spin on the hi-hat frosting from Martha Stewart, which I used for quantities but with a different technique. Martha’s recipe also called for almond essence, which I did use in the cupcakes pictured, but I think should be omitted. I felt that the almond flavour overpowered the delicate spiced chocolate note of the cupcakes.

For the cupcakes

150g plain flour (or 180g if using spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
pinch of salt
100g soft unsalted butter
160g dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml boiling water
1oog dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee

For the frosting

390g caster sugar
60ml water
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Jaffa candies to decorate

  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice and salt. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add  the eggs one at a time, mix well after each. Beat in one third of the flour mixture, then 1 tablespoon of sour cream, alternating until all the flour and sour cream is incorporated. The mixture will be thick.


  • Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a saucepan with the boiling water and coffee. Heat gently until the chocolate is melted.
  • Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly and then pour into the cake batter.


  • Fold the chocolate mixture gently in, but don’t over mix. The mixture will be very thin. Fill cupcake pans about two thirds full (note I overfilled the ones pictured below):


  • Bake for about 20 minutes, until cooked through. Allow to cool completely before icing.
  • For the frosting, combine the sugar, water, egg whites and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until it reaches 160F/70C on a thermometer.


  • Pour the eggwhite mixture into a stand mixer and beat on high speed. Add the vanilla. Continue beating until the frosting is cooled, thick and glossy. It should comfortably hold its own weight.


  • Pipe the mixture high on to the cooled cupcakes.
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  • Top with a jaffa and enjoy!
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    8 Responses to “Hi-hat Christmas Cupcakes”

    1. J says:

      Wow.. the finished product looks amazing! I was lucky enough to score one of the ‘rejects’. Yumm-o! Merry Xmas Em xx

    2. Sarah says:

      Hey Emily these look adorable! have you checked out Nigella’s Christmas cook book? I’ve been studying it every night when I go to bed..

    3. Hannah says:

      As another mince-pie hater, I desperately wish someone in my family would make these for Christmas for me! Though I can’t help thinking of these as Rudolph cupcakes rather than hi-hats, because of the bright red nose 🙂

    4. Dustin Baier says:

      Nice pictures. They are great looking cupcakes. You should share these over at http://www.dishfolio.com you would be a great addition.

    5. Emily says:

      J: Glad you liked the rejects. Mr M always gets the ugly ones. A pity yours was unfrosted!

      Sarah: No I don’t have Nigella’s Christmas… hmm maybe it would make a good gift for me? *hint to family*

      Hannah: How can you hate mince pies? I love them! Particularly home made ones, fresh and warm from the oven… and yes I agree the jaffa is a little Rudolph-esque, but it’s still festive.. right?

    6. Sarah says:

      you must! it’s really handy for this time of year.. especially if you are a nigella lover

    7. Cherrie says:

      I love the looks of your cupcakes especially the height of the frosting. The jaffa on top gives it the Christmassy feel 🙂

    8. These looks so so good! I’ve always wanted to make hi hat cupcakes. They always look so good.

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