Chocolate & spice Christmas muffins

A plate of Christmas yumminess!
A plate of Christmas yumminess!

Our household is divided between 50% who love dried fruit and 50% who hate. I can just about get dried cranberries passed on to the fussier two but anything else is met with dead fly comments and general eeeewwww sounds.

But Christmas baking has to have the scent of Christmas in and I had never tried mixed spice with chocolate before and it works really well. I made ginger and chocolate squares before which were lovely and on the same lines to have a festive feel without the dead flies, not my use of words there!

These muffins have a lovely warm flavour which works really well with the chocolate. I used two teaspoons of each mixed spice and ginger but if you like it a bit milder then use just one of each.

The dry part of the muffin mix you can weigh out and put in a sealed container ready to go. I had my mix sitting there waiting for me for four day’s! The ganache can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.  This mix is essentially truffle base with the alcohol. Just take it out the fridge 30 mins before you need it so it it is easier to spend. Any left over literally spoon out roll in cocoa powder and voila a truffle! Or if you like me just spoon from the fridge direct to mouth!

So as you can see you can do quite a bit to make the whole cake making quicker in this busy season.

I made mine gluten-free but am giving you the recipe for both. If you want them to last a bit longer *substitute 50g of flour for 50g of ground almonds both ways are tasty but the oil in the almonds keeps the gluten-free ones from going dry too quickly.

The smell of chocolate and spices fresh out the oven
The smell of chocolate and spices fresh out the oven

These muffins need to be baked without muffin cases to decorate as I have. Some are going to have their tops chopped off and turn upside down to make Christmas pudding cakes and some are going to be filled. I used my Pampered Chef stoneware muffin pan for this as you do not need to grease it and they come out perfectly, even with the problem of gluten-free and the chocolate sinking to the bottom! If you have a non-stick pan you trust the don’t grease it, if not just lightly grease with either melted butter or sunflower oil.

I have shown you a few idea’s how to decorate them and I loved them mix and match so people can choose rather than having 12 the same. I am far from a cake decorator but think these looks fab and easily achieved.

I have used my holly cutter which I reviewed here but you can also use washed bay leaves or even washed holly leaves. Using snipped up bits of cranberries looked really nice I thought.

So no more waffle here is what you need for my Chocolate and Spice Christmas muffins:

200g Self raising flour  (I used gluten-free plain flour with a total of 2 teaspoons of baking powder) *See ground almond note

1 teaspoon of baking powder

25g cocoa powder

150g of castor sugar (I used golden as I prefer the taste)

1 egg (2 for gluten-free)

240ml of milk

90ml of sunflower oil

1-2 teaspoons of ground ginger

1-2 teaspoons of mixed spice

100g dark chocolate chopped

For the topping for the mix of variations I made you will need:

For the chocolate ganache you will need:

150ml double cream

150g of dark chocolate chopped quite small for easy melting

Other topping you will need:

120g white chocolate cut into pieces

A small amount dark green sugar paste rolled and cut or shaped into holly leaves or bay or holly leaves.

A few dried cranberries snipped into little pieces.

Chocolate chips

Chocolate coins

Icing sugar

To make the Chocolate and spice Christmas muffins you need to:

Wet and dry ingredients all ready.
Wet and dry ingredients all ready.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and prepare your 12 hole muffin pan if needed.

Put all your dry ingredients except the chocolate into one bowl and mix throughly

Put all the wet ingredients into another bowl and whisk them together until mixed

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in. It may have lumps in this is the nature of muffin mix so don’t worry.

Fold in the dark chopped chocolate and put the muffins mixture into your prepared 12 hole muffin pan

Baked for 20-25 minutes.

Leave to cool completely

Whilst these are baking make you ganache.

Put the cream into a small saucepan and gently heat until simmering

Take off the heat and add your chopped chocolate and stir in quickly until all the chocolate is melted.

Pour into a shallow dish, leave to cool then pop in the fridge to harden off a bit.

All the decorating ingredients ready to go!
All the decorating ingredients ready to go!

Once the cakes are cooled completely and your ganache is in a spreadable form it is time to make these muffins look gorgeous.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted remove from the bowl the pan and allow to cool just for a minute or two.

Cut the muffins in half to fill or cut the tops of and flip over to make Christmas pudding cakes.
Cut the muffins in half to fill or cut the tops of and flip over to make Christmas pudding cakes.

 

Whilst that is cooling, slice the muffins in half that you want filled, take any peaked tops off to make a flat top to turn them around to make them look like Christmas puddings and leave alone the ones you just want to top. The choice is yours.

Christmas pudding, simple but effective decoration.
Christmas pudding, simple but effective decoration.

For the Christmas puddings, once you have taken off the top of the cake to allow it to sit flat turn it over and pour melted white chocolate over the bottom which is now the top! Decorate with your holly of your choice and the snipped cranberries.

Filled with ganache and white chocolate then a snowy sprinkle of icing sugar.
Filled with ganache and white chocolate then a snowy sprinkle of icing sugar.

Spread the chocolate ganche in the middle of the cakes, sandwich together and then top with more ganche if you wish. I put holy decorations on some and added chocolate coins to other.

Filled & topped with ganache and holly decoration.
Filled & topped with ganache and holly decoration.

Some I filled and just sprinkle with icing sugar for that very simple and pretty snowy effect. Pour white chocolate on other and sprinkle with chocolate drops. I had a bit of white chocolate left so a few got ganache and then white chocolate as a filling.

Melted Chocolate & chocolate chips.
Melted Chocolate & chocolate chips.

Really it is up to you but this give you some really simple idea’s how to transform the look of these simple and tasty muffins.

If you want them all topped and filled with ganache just double the mixture, like wise for all white chocolate double the amount. Or of course they are tasty enough just to be offered with a sprinkling of snowy icing sugar.

A snowy sprinkle ad a sprig of holly
A snowy sprinkle ad a sprig of holly

I thought they looked great and were so easy to do. They are going to look great on a Christmas party or afternoon tea-table and the warm chocolate flavours of the muffins are perfect for a Winter treat.

You may also like my Drunken Tiffin Squares which make great Christmas presents too or how about a Rocky Road Christmas pudding

I am linking up to Vicki’s Honest Mum #TastyTuesday foodie linky. Where today you will find lots of delicious recipes including Vicki’ Lamb Kleftiko which looks gorgeous.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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10 comments on “Chocolate & spice Christmas muffins

  1. Alison
    December 2, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Those look really festive, loving the Christmas pudding look. Bet they were lovely

    • Ali
      December 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Thank you 🙂 they tasted really good, the spices and chocolate worked really well and have to say I was really pleased with how they turned out!

  2. Dannii @ hungry healthy happy
    December 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I used to be one of those people that hated dried fruit, but now I love it. I actually had my first mince pie in 10 years the other day. Yum!

    • Ali
      December 2, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      It is so strange how some people love it and some people hate it, it is a bit like Marmite I guess. Glad you found a love for it, you could chuck some dry fruit in this recipe too! x

  3. Donna
    December 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I think I love you! I’ve always hated dried fruit and feel like I miss out on so many of the christmas flavours because of it, I’ve searched for a recipe for years and this one seems to have hit the nail on the head Will be trying these out! x

    • Ali
      December 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Oh it is nice to be loved! I hope you love them as much as we do! So glad you found the recipe! x

  4. Sarah (@tamingtwins)
    December 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

    These look so gorgeous. Anything with festive spices AND ganache is a total win in my book. That pan looks really interesting too. Is it worth investing?

    • Ali
      December 6, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Thank you Sarah! They were really lovely and I shall be making more. I do indeed rate the Pampered Chef muffin pan. It is great for gluten-free stuff I find the rise is much better and also they make the most amazing Yorkshire pudding with no oil and the pan goes in cold so no faffing about. This pan I have reviewed but in the past has bought from Pampered Chef parties, which are great fun! So investment wise the stoneware I invested in the rectangle pan has had so much use, I love the fact you don’t need oil and they are what you said investment pieces for the kitchen that will pay you back loads of times over. Hope that helps x

  5. Honest Mum
    December 7, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    So stunning, perfect for a Christmas party with mulled wine, love the mixed spice in the mix too! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays x

    • Ali
      December 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you Vicki, and yes would be perfect with mulled wine indeed! x

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