Chocolate Rudolph Cupcakes

16 Dec 2017

Something that I do before planning any of my seasonal bakes is browse through Pinterest. I like to generate some ideas and maybe take inspiration from what others have been baking, so while I do try to come up with my own ideas, most of them have come from something I've seen. Well, ladies and gents, these are cupcakes that I made up completely on my own!

While my Christmas bakes so far have been Christmassy, they haven't featured anything properly Christmas-related. I'd toyed with the idea of doing something Santa-esque, or using snowmen as inspiration, but I just kept going back to reindeers. They're a part of Christmas for kids and all the best Christmas items have a reindeer on, so I went with it. But of course, I didn't want to feature any old reindeer - it had to be the legend himself, Rudolph.
I had the vision for these cupcakes very early on. I knew that I wanted to have chocolate cupcakes in brown cases with chocolate icing, to represent reindeer fur, of course. I also knew that I wanted to make my own antlers from melted white chocolate. This was super simple to do - just draw your antler shapes on to a piece of greaseproof paper, flip it over, then trace with your melted chocolate in a freezer bag with the corner snipped off. But I also had to get the red nose in there, otherwise this would just be a bog-standard reindeer. Now, I could've just stuck a red Smartie in between the antlers and called it a day, but that's not enough effort for me. Instead, I took inspiration from my Billionaire's Shortbread Hot Chocolate cupcakes and made a well in each, then I filled each with red white chocolate ganache! So when you cut into or bite one of these cakes, Rudolph's face is revealed.

Colouring chocolate is notoriously difficult to do. I talked a little bit about mixing alcohol with chocolate in my Boozy Baileys brownies post, and it's the sort of the same issue for colouring. Water-based colours will make the chocolate seize up into a gritty mess as the water causes the fat in the chocolate to cool too quickly, so definitely do not use regular pouring colours. I read online that the best thing to use was powdered colours, but I didn't have any to hand, so I decided I was going to attempt to use gel colour. Ganache is made from double cream and melted chocolate, so the way I went about getting the red colour was by using the gel to colour the cream first. I made sure to beat the cream and colour together thoroughly without thickening it until it was a light shade of red, then I poured it into the chocolate and heated it up. It worked perfectly well and the colour actually deepened as the mixture was heated, so I was thrilled!
For the cupcakes, you will need:
170g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
Half teaspoon salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
120ml milk

For the ganache, you will need:
200ml double cream
600g white chocolate
Red gel food colouring (I used Sugarflair's Christmas Red)

For the icing, you will need:
250g unsalted butter, softened
50g cocoa powder
300-400g icing sugar
100g white chocolate

  1. Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan and line a cupcake tin with 12 cases.
  2. In a medium bowl, sieve together the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set to one side.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the unsalted butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat the mixture until well combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom to get everything mixed in!
  4. Gradually add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and beat gently after each addition until the mixture becomes thick. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Overmixing is not your friend!
  5. Spoon the cake batter into the cases, filling them until they're around two thirds full and bake for around 20-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Whilst they're cooling, make your ganache. Colour your double cream with your gel colouring, making sure to mix thoroughly to incorporate all of the colour. Break your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and pour the coloured cream on top. Heat this in the microwave on 30 second increments, being sure to mix in between. Once the chocolate has fully melted, allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes before popping it into the fridge.
  7. To make the buttercream, beat your butter in a large bowl to soften it further. Add in the cocoa powder and icing sugar, 100g at a time, beating between each addition until you reach your desired consistency. If the mixture becomes a bit too thick, add in a splash of milk.
  8. For the antlers, take a piece of greaseproof paper and draw antler shapes on to it. I drew more than I needed, just in case any of them broke when I was removing them. Then flip the paper over and lay it on a baking sheet. Melt your white chocolate in the microwave or over a pan over barely simmering water, then pour it into a freezer bag. Snip the corner off with a pair of scissors, and trace around your antler shapes with the chocolate. Once finished, pop the sheet into the fridge to set.
  9. Once your ganache has fully cooled, take it out of the fridge and use a hand mixer to whip it up into a spreadable consistency. Use a knife or the large end of a piping tip to remove the centres of your cakes, and fill each of them with the ganache.
  10. Pop your buttercream into a piping bag with your favourite nozzle attached and add a swirl to the top of each cupcakes, being sure to cover the ganache.
  11. Remove your chilled antlers from the fridge and gently lift them from the greaseproof paper. Stick two into the buttercream on opposite sides.
While these little guys take a bit of effort and washing up, they really are worth it. Not only are they super delicious and chocolatey, but look how freaking cute they are! They're definitely my favourite bake of the season so far, and I definitely recommend you give them a go. They're absolutely ideal for a kids party.

Whould you like to comment?

  1. I've seen so many baking recipes but this one tops all of them, I'm so in love! You are such a talented baker :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

    1. Gosh, Yasmina! Thank you so much, that means a lot xx