The tradition of enjoying the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime has been in my family for over 20 years. The Nutcracker Land of Sweets is a magical theme that has me mesmerized. Gingerbread, candy canes, gumdrops and billowy clouds of pink frosting are what dreams are made of. And that’s exactly what these dreamy cupcakes are made of. The cupcake flavor is a subtle spice cake. The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart cake recipe I made last summer. The original cake was paired with blackberry jam, but I knew plum jam would be perfect for these cupcakes. I topped them with a mildly sweet, fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream.
Part of the fun of making these cupcakes began at the store as I collected the sweets to decorate the cupcakes. Another perk of the job is taste testing the candy. I discovered that purple spice drops are licorice flavored and red spice drops are cinnamon. Who knew?
You might also like my Nutcracker Land of Sweets inspired candy bark. It’s a delightful holiday bark I designed that is often imitated. To view it, click here.
- 3/4 cups (3 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour, sifted
- 3/4 cups (3 ounces) cake flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- small pinch ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 1/8 ounces) fine granulated sugar or regular granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup plum jam I used red plum jam
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/3 cups (9 3/8 ounces) fine granulated sugar or regular granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla etract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 drops pink gel food color I used Americolor deep pink
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 serving muffin pan with disposable baking cups. (I used silver foil liners.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add egg, egg white, and vanilla, one at a time, mixing until well combined.
- Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with milk. Mix until combined.
- Divide batter evenly into wells of prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.
- Bake until light golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes.
- Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Gently transfer cupcakes to cooling rack to cool completely.
- Core the center of each cupcake, removing a 3/4-inch deep circle. Fill with jam and replace the circle top.
- Frost cupcakes with pink Swiss meringue buttercream. Decorate with cookies and candies. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water.
- Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
- Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
- Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing the butter to fully incorporate each time before adding more.
- Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla, salt and food color. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Spice Cake