Even if you’re not much of a baker the rest of the year, it’s likely that your inner Mary Berry makes an appearance at Christmas time, whether you’re trying to save money on gifts, want a show-stopping dessert for Christmas day or simply want your house to smell like mincemeat, orange, ginger, cinnamon and all things festive.
There’s always someone though who won’t eat mince pies, having somehow spent years thinking they actually contained minced beef and who is now eternally disappointed to find sweetened fruit in their pastry, or someone who can’t stand Christmas pudding, so why not jazz up your festive baking and put a twist on the classics? Your Auntie Jean might hate mince pies, but she can’t possibly think that your mince pie-inspired cupcakes should contain beef, can she?
See what we did there – blending ‘gin’ and ‘mince’ together for a mind-blowing take on the classic festive treat? That’s exactly what we’re encouraging you to do too.
The world appears to have gone gin-mad recently, confirmed by the arrival of Christmas jumpers adorned with ‘Gin-gle bells’ in many high street stores and even Lidl launching its own gin-flavoured posh crisps.
Homemade mincemeat is so much more flavoursome than shop-bought and you can cater it to your – and your Auntie Jean’s – tastes, so leave out the raisins if you hate them, add extra peel if it’s Jean’s favourite and soak everything in your favourite alcohol. I’d Much Rather Bake Than has a recipe for whisky-soaked mincemeat and we propose swapping the whisky for gin to bring this in line with this year’s tipple of the moment.
Fill homemade pastry cases with it, swirl it through no-churn vanilla ice cream for a festive twist, put it in jars and give it as gifts. You could even put a few spoonfuls in your favourite chocolate brownie batter – every self-respecting millennial needs a gin-soaked mince pie brownie to Instagram for Christmas, after all.
A yoghurt-y twist on Christmas cake
Now, we know that Christmas cake die-hards are unlikely to ever agree that the classic bake can be improved with a dollop of natural yoghurt. But for those of us who find traditional Christmas cake a little too old-fashioned, incorporating the classic fruity flavours into a modern yoghurt loaf cake could be the spruce-up the bake needs.
K Beats’ recipe for orange and cranberry yoghurt loaf cake still has that traditional fruity element, but it’s much lighter and fluffier than the stodgier wedges of cake of Christmases past. Drizzle it with white chocolate icing for a sweet finish, or spread it with liberal amounts of rum butter for added festive indulgence.
Chocolate orange Christmas pudding cupcakes
Frankly, we think it’s a travesty that all of these words – some of the best in the world, in our opinion – don’t appear this closely together more often.
Christmas pudding is another festive classic that isn’t always as popular with the younger generation, but by including its traditional flavours into chocolate orange cupcakes a la Handbags and Cupcakes, this is a bake that should suit all ages.
When you sink your teeth into these, you’ll get a hint of dried fruit, a soft cakey texture and melted oozing chunks of chocolate orange. There is literally nothing more you could want from a Christmas dessert.
Bailey's cheesecake brownies
Again, three more words that really should appear together more frequently. Gin might be having a moment, but nothing can rob Bailey’s of its number one festive drink crown.
Katie Cakes has an absolutely gorgeous recipe for Bailey’s cheesecake brownies that are ideal to add to your dessert table if you want to keep the classics there.
These sweet and creamy chocolatey slices will be the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t want Christmas cake or mince pies – remember to up the alcohol content to keep Auntie Jean quiet.
We use ginger in curries, stir fries and Thai recipes all year round, but there is something incredibly Christmassy about it. Gingerbread men are the only type of men that it’s okay to put in a cheesecake – that’s a fact – and we encourage you to crumble a few up to make the festive delight that is this gingerbread cheesecake from She Who Bakes. With a gingery buttery biscuit base and extra crumbled gingerbread on top, it’s ginger heaven.
Christmas sprinkles, edible gold glitter and little candy stars will turn any of these desserts into real festive show-stoppers. And if anyone dares to suggest they’re tacky, uninvite them from Christmas dinner and eat their slice.