Tuesday 27 July 2010

Christmas in July Cupcakes

On the weekend I went to my mum’s and fulfilled my promise to my niece Maddy to do some cake decorating with her. Ill health had kept me from helping to make her birthday cake a few weeks back so we did the next best thing and made Christmas in July Cupcakes.

First I had to explain the idea of Christmas in July to my nieces. Many Australians will find themselves in the Northern Hemisphere at Christmas and miss the sun, the barbecues and the beach. I have never had that sort of Christmas and love the idea of celebrating Christmas at a time of year when it is cold enough to need a festive dinner of hog’s head and plum pudding.

Cupcakes might not be traditional Christmas fare but they are perfect for some easy decoration with kids. My mum had made some gluten free cupcakes for us to ice. These are very popular in my family. Other vanilla recipes such as small cakes that I grew up making or these excellent hot milk cupcakes would have also been fine. My preference, however, would be a chocolate cupcake such as these choc honey muffins (if we don’t quibble over differences between cupcakes and muffins).

I was inspired by Cindy to make some Reindeer Cupcakes. Maddy and Quin were in charge of these. They had the bowl of light brown icing, coloured with cocoa, some jaffas for noses, choc chips for eyes, pretzels to break into horns and we found some old tubes of glitter icing for the mouths. The girls had fun with drawing different expressions on the mouths.

I wanted to make sure that Grace didn’t miss out of the cupcakes so I thought we could also do some GF holly cupcakes. I know we could have piped icing on or cut out coloured fondant but I retain a childhood fascination for decorations with lollies (sweets in you are in the UK or candies if you are in Northern America). I had a special trip to source the right lollies at the Yummy Mummy Lolly Shop

Grace and Ella were in charge of the Holly Cupcakes, which took a bit more experimentation. They decided on some light green icing. At the lolly shop I found some green gummy frogs, mint leaves, raspberry jubes, as well as the jaffas. The gummy frogs were best for cutting out holly leaves though I liked the look of the mint leaves too. We also cut the raspberries into smaller berries for the holly. The jaffas were ok as berries but are not gf. Ella was not well but cheered up at the cake decorating.

We stayed overnight at my parents so they could look after Sylvia (with a lot of help from my sister Susie and her girls) while we went to the cinema to see Inception. It was an intense, immense and thought provoking film. More car chases, guns and explosions than I care to see, but lots of intriguing ideas and breathtaking landscapes. It required constant attention to follow a complicated plot so I was glad we went to the earlier session.

The next day we had a birthday dinner for my brother Andy. After the tacos, the table was spread with mum’s chocolate pudding and sponge birthday, Fran’s fruity cupcakes and the Christmas in July cupcakes. I think the girls would have preferred to eat the icing and lollies off the decorated cupcakes. Maddy was disappointed that the pretzels had softened overnight. Sylvia loved poking her finger into the cupcakes and licking it. I just preferred the chocolate pudding and sponge cake.

It was a lovely afternoon with the family. The boys went off to play golf after lunch and the girls sat around cuddling Andy and Erica’s new baby Ashton. I was fascinated by how much the nieces loved Masterchef. We left with a leek, brie and pumpkin tart and a chickpea curry that my mum had made.

I will leave you with my quote of the weekend which comes from Grace when telling me about how much she loved her pancake breakfast on Sunday morning: “If the world was a pancake, I would eat it all.”

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Pudding, Parties and Plate Smashers
This time two years ago:
Stouty Oatmeal Beer Bread
This time three years ago:
Quick and spicy noodles

On the Stereo:
The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha: Bread Love and Dreams


  1. I always associate Christmas in July with sales at gift shops. Cupcake decorating and edible reindeer antlers are much more my style! What a clever idea! And I hope you're feeling all better, Johanna.

  2. Oh my goodness THE HORNS! So cute. What fab idea.

  3. They are SO cute Johanna! And I'm intrigued by the hot milk cupcakes too! You describe them as light and melting which sounds marvellous! :)

  4. Oh my - how wonderful are these!!! I will have to remember to make some at Christmas!!!!

  5. The reindeer cupcakes are so tremendously adorable, Johanna! I wouldn't want to eat them... (What a lie, I already want to pick off the pretzel-antlers and nibble on them)

  6. How fun, Johanna! You always have lots of ideas with cake deco.

  7. What a spread! And you had the best ingredient for Christmas at any time of the year - family. :-)

  8. What cute cupcakes - love the use of pretzels. I can't imagine having Christmas in hot weather - what would you do with all the wollies jumpers as presents? - lol :)

    Bet your niece loved it

  9. Christmas in July sounds so fun! Such cute cupcakes. I love the pretzels for antlers. That tart your mom made looks so good and I love the rectangular tart tin! I've been eyeing those for a while.

  10. These cupcakes are adorable!!!! So cute.

  11. What a fabulous few days!
    The cupcakes are terrific. Now that I see the horns ... why didn't I think of that. It's so right on! Cupcakes are perfect for any day in my book.

  12. Thanks Susan - I have never heard of Christmas in July sales - here it is really about food but who could refuse a few gifts mid year!

    Thanks Shauna - I was impressed by the work of my nieces on the horns - my attempt with the pretzels were pitiful

    Thanks Lorraine - the hot milk cupcakes are unlike other vanilla cupcakes I have had - and you could almost make the mixture as a cake - maybe I should try that too!

    Thanks Lisa - took me two and a half years after I saw Cindy do it but am glad it stuck in my head

    Thanks Hannah - but if you have a bit of pretzel you have to have the whole cupcake - I am sorry but that was the rule for my nieces so it will be a rule for everyone - but rules are made to be broken!

    Thanks Anh - just love having fun with food :-)

    Thanks Cindy - yes always love to be festive with family and my nieces are so much fun to cook with

    Thanks K

    Thanks Katie - woolly jumpers as presents seems so enid blyton and harry potter - we just get t-shirts :-)

    Thanks Ashley - that tin does look professional doesn't it - my mum is much braver with pastry than I am so am happy for her to pass it on to me with tart already in it :-)

    Thanks Cakelaw

    Thanks Tanna - I agree that cupcakes always are perfect - though I prefer icing them than eating them - is that odd?

  13. They look so adorable Johanna. You have very lucky nieces to have you to bake with!!! I can't imagine Christmas in the heat, so can fully understand wanting Christmas in July!

  14. The reindeer are so cute!

  15. Love that quote! And the cupcakes (or were they muffins?) you made are all so adorable, especially those reindeer. We saw Inception a couple of weeks ago and I felt the same way--I like movies that require some thinking while you watch them!


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