Christmas Cupcakes

This is one of my favourite recipes by one of my favourite bakers: Harry Eastwood. It combines gluten free, low sugar baking with all the goodness of a Christmas Cake and then tops it off with sticky marshmallowy meringue icing. And then to top off the decadence its got a little alcoholic kick!



80g Sultanas or raisins
120g candied peel
4 tbsp brandy
4 medium eggs
100g dark Muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp salt
200g topped, tailed, peeled and very finely grated carrot
very finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
100g white rice flour
50g ground almonds
2 tsp baking poweder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
15 scratches of grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60 glacé cherries, halved
60g pecans, roughly chopped


170g icing sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
white of 1 egg
small pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 160ºC Fan/ 350ºF/ Gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.

Soak the sultanas and candied peel in a bowl with the brandy before you start on the rest of the recipe.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl for 3 full minutes until light coffee coloured and fluffy. Add the grated carrot and lemon zest and whisk until combined.

Fold in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, ginger, mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon, along with the glacé cherries and pecans, with a large metal spoon until they are all mixed together and singing from the same carol sheet.

Spoon the mixture carefully in the cases, making sure that they are roughly even and that the mixture comes four fifths of the way up the sides. Place in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are out of the oven, take them out of the tin and sit them on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Ice them individually and serve, or keep un-iced in a tin until needed. Store for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

For the icing: Place all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water. Stir with a clean metal spoon for 2 minutes exactly to disove the sugar.

When the mixture is warm and the 2 minutes are up, remove the bowl from the heat and beat with a hand-held electric whick. Whisk for 9 minutes until cool. The mixture is ready to use when it’s standing up like snow-covered Swiss peaks.

If piping the icing, simply fill your piping bag in the usual way. Be sure to ice the cakes quickly, as the icing will start to set and alter its flexibility as it sits – it likes to be used when just made.

Tips, Tricks and Variations

The carrot needs to be very finely grated to hold up to the weight of all of the fruit and nuts

When making the icing, timing is very important, as too long over the hot water will cook the egg and whisking for too long will make the icing too stiff to use.

Switch out the Brandy for any tipple of your choice (personally cherry brandy, orange liquour are my favourite) or for Orange or Cranberry juice if you’re going for a non-alcoholic cupcake.

Add flavouring to the icing by switching out a tbsp on water for other liquid like brandy or juice.


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