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