Thursday, 8 December 2011

Reindeer Cupcakes

Who feels Christmassy?? Actually, let me put that another way. Who's been listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album on repeat?

I have! I have! I have!

And in keeping with last year (I made chestnut cupcakes), this year I've got reindeer cupcakes.

Kinda blowing my own trumpet here a bit, but aren't they cute? Maybe I'll ask for a reindeer for Christmas...

I stuck on the pretzel antlers with melted chocolate, and for them to set I had to rest them against whatever I could find. Yes, that does include that jar of chilli sauce you can see on the right. 

I found a recipe for this form BBC Food, but I adapted it slightly to add Baileys and a bit less milk because otherwise it would become to muffiny and not cupcakey enough. It's also incredibly sweet so I'm going to cut the amount of sugar in the recipe. Hey, it's good for you! They rose really well though, so much that I could cut a cheeky slice off to 'test it'. Ahem. 

I also made an icing from icing sugar and cocoa powder (ran out of real chocolate to melt) and added flour to the icing I had left and baked more cookies! I don't have any photos though because they came out lumpy and ugly and obviously you always have to eat the evidence in these kind of situations.

To photograph the cakes, I don't have a real photo box or anything and can't afford £400 to spend on buying real equipment and flashes, so I used some help from mother nature and a bed sheet to set up a photoshoot in the conservatory (the red tinsel didn't make the final cut unfortunately):

I think the photos came out ok... really, I don't understand why Topshop won't just use a really big bed sheet and do all of their photo shoots outside. I bet they'll save a ton of money.

On other news... anyone else out there reading this and got a graduate job application open in another tab? I totally know how you feel.

Today (well, the day I was writing this bit) I kind of realised a realisation. It was after about the billionth email from some bank/finance campus recruiting people saying that they thought I 'worked hard to get to this stage' (but obviously not hard enough to get an offer), I thought, I'm too tired to stress over what happens now. I've given it my best (you don't stay up till 3am on that essay just to go to that banking networking event two train journeys away if you don't really, really, REALLY want it), and it's come to the point where I have to take my phone in the shower with me in case I miss a call back for another interview. I jump every time I get an email. I flinch every time my phone vibrates. I can practically recite my competencies backwards. In Finnish.

Well, I will if that's what it takes.

This is how I feel sometimes. Like a big brown pile of... ahem, mush.

It's really hard this year. For those of you that are graduating too you probably know what I mean. But, and now I'm going to sound like a cheesy rom com, that doesn't mean we give up! We're students, we're good at protesting and holding up signs (and swinging from flags too, evidently)... and not stopping until we get what we want. Do you remember when I used to write 'Lesson learned today' at the end of my blog posts? I've learned a huge lesson today. Hang in there. Don't give up. Someday, someone, somewhere will believe that I can add value and that's the day when I'll change the 'About Me' box to the right of this page to say 'a 20 year old studentex-student now working'.

And this goes out to anyone reading this who is in my position, whether you are a student or not: Who knows what will come your way now? Jump at any opportunity you have, but this might even be a blessing in disguise :) 

but er, p.s., I also just wanted to get out there: I'm a student! I'm cheap labour! I will work until 3 am to write that stock pitch AND run half a mile to get you double espresso nonfat vanilla latte! What more could you want???

p.p.s I'm very lucky in that I've had a lot of help with how to go about trying to get a job... a big big big thank you and sorry for being such a massive pain! You know who you are!


I'm really sorry if you can here for a recipe on Reindeer Cupcakes and Christmas cheer, I'll stop and let you listen to Michael Buble's Christmas album. I hope this makes up for my rant!

Reindeer Cupcakes
Adapted form BBC Food
Makes 12 rather large cupcakes

125g/4½oz butter, softened
150g/6oz caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
200g/7oz self raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml/3½fl oz milk
100g/3½oz dark 70% cocoa solids chocolate, melted
3 tbsp Irish cream liqueur

For the chocolate icing
75g/3oz butter, softened
120g/4oz icing sugar
75g/3oz cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp milk

To decorate
giant chocolate buttons
mini pretzels
glace cherries
white chocolate and milk chocolate drops

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Fold in the milk, melted chocolate and Irish cream liqueur, if using.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until well risen and lightly firm to the touch. Remove the cakes from the tin and set aside to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar, cocoa powder and one tablespoon of the milk and beat until creamy. Beat in more milk if necessary to loosen the icing. To decorate the cupcakes, spread the icing over the top of the cupcakes.

Press a chocolate button onto the cake as a nose, then stick glace cherry (cut to size) on top of the chocolate button. For the eyes, melt some white chocolate (30 second bursts in the microwave) and droop them on. Stick a milk chocolate drop on top for the pupils. Stick on the pretzels as the ears, using milk chocolate as glue. Leave to harden.


  1. is that chilli sauce Lao Gan Ma? xD

    Chin up with the job hunt, it'll come.

  2. very creative.. nicely decorated. i want to try some .

  3. amazing cupcakes Xinmei will pray that you get the job of your dreams but seriously you should open a bakery!

  4. Love the reindeer cupcakes...:)!! I need to find out where to find those mini pretzels ;).

  5. How creative and they're gorgeous!

  6. These are too cute I've been thinking of making some myself! I love the red nose!

  7. Aww look at those cute antlers! And using pretzels is such a clever idea-much better than piping chocolate antlers (which might break!). And good luck with the work :)

  8. "All I want for Christmas is...." a job! And these cute reindeers ;-). Funnily enough, I was also listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album this afternoon just before your comment came through (kinda creepy)!

    You know, I remember being in your exact situation 20 years ago when jobs were still plentiful, and feeling like a failure because I worked so hard only to be still jobless 8 months after graduation. On hindsight, I should've enjoyed my freedom more and stress less because once I started working, I never stopped...until now! As you can see, my life turned out okay and happily, I'm not the shit I thought I was at 21.

    You'll make it big, I know you will. For the moment, Top Shop might be looking for a photo-stylist? :)

  9. Yay - someone else loving The Buble!

    Your cupcakes are awesome - best use of pretzels. Ever!

  10. Oh my, these are just adorable! Thanks so much for your comment on YummyMummyKitchen so I could find your blog. Will be following from now on :)

  11. So cute! and it is not too complicated as well! :)

  12. These are really cute! I bet they were delicious too with the Irish cream in them:)

  13. i have, i have! i love michael buble.
    these cupcakes are freakin' adorable.
    ugghh i'm so sorry... i don't graduate until next december and i'm already feeling the stress; i can't even imagine how you're feeling. :(
    sending prayers.. the right one will come along!!

  14. Beautiful seasonal cupcakes, loving the pretzel antlers too.

  15. I LOVE that album! I think I've listened to it at least 50 times since I got it! Cold December Night is my favorite... try to relax - the right job will come along in time!

  16. Xinmei, what a lovely decoration. Loved these reindeer cupcakes. Your instructions make it easy to make these yummy trats!!

  17. How cute! Loved these reindeer cupcakes...perfect for the Christmas season! Bookmarked.

  18. This is a cute idea! Your top shot looks awesome! If you didn't show us how you took that picture, I wouldn't have guessed that's how you take the picture... ;-)

  19. Oh how adorable are these!! Love the creativity, well everything on here is extremely creative. Thanks for sharing, they almost look too cute to eat lol =]

  20. Those cupcakes are so cute! Hang in there with the job hunting- something will come along when the time is right. :)

  21. Great idea to use pretzels as the horns...look delicious! Thanks for showing how to take that nice photo too:) and best of luck in your job hunting, I can understand how you felt!

  22. Hi Xinmei, wow... your cupcake is so cutie cutie... got extra to spare me 2 pieces?
    Have a nice day.

  23. Too cute!!i made reindeer cupcakes on monday too :) and snowmen and trees too, i love festive baking!

  24. These cupcakes are adorable, and I think the photos came out well!

  25. Oh Xinmei, these cupcakes are so cute, the kids (and kids wanna be) will love this. Thank you so this lovely idea.
    Hope you are having wonderful week :-)

  26. Blow your trumpet all you want, these are just simply AMAZING, I tell you!:) *Salutes* you for being able to do all these and still study/complete your assignments;) That's what I call spirit, blogging-spirit!:D

  27. harıka olmuslar canım,çok şirin,sevgıler...

  28. Your cupcakes are super cute! White bedsheet? Now why didn't I think of that?? :)
    Don't worry XM, your dream job would come soon enough! Enjoy your Christmas holidays!

  29. I LOVE these cupcakes- so cute and Christmassy! Please don't feel too despondent on the job front-you're doing everything right, its just a matter of time! And in case these employers are foolish not to be jumping over themselves to employ you!

  30. These cupcakes are so cute. I love it! Have a wonderful week, Xinmei.

  31. These are so super cute! Love the photography and styling - topshop can definitely get some tips from you :) Good luck with the job hunt! Have a great Christmas and New Year!

  32. These cupcakes are just too cute!

  33. these look absolutely nice and cute:)

    Thanks foir stopping by, the leaves in the post are mint and yes I used a lot of basil too, I love them!

  34. These are so cute! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas :)

  35. Thank you for dropping by, your visit and comments are very much appreciated.
    These cute reindeer cup cakes look really nice.


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