Cranberry & Vanilla Cupcakes

Cranberry Vanilla Cupcakes, I Love Cooking Christmas recipes, Christmas

Cranberry & Vanilla Cupcakes sponsored by Kenwood

It’s only right to make the most of fresh cranberries when the season is upon us. These cranberry & vanilla cupcakes put them to good use, both inside the soft, buttery vanilla cupcake, and adorned on top like little frosted gems.

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Makes 12 cupcakes

For the sugared cranberries:

  • 100g granulated white sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 60ml water
  • +- 65g fresh cranberries, rinsed

For the cupcakes:

  • 95g self-raising flour
  • 80g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125ml milk, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g fresh cranberries, rinsed & roughly chopped

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 375g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. For the sugared cranberries, stir together sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring as needed, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add the cranberries, tossing well to coat them in the syrup, then cover with saucepan’s lid and leave to sit off the heat for 10 minutes.
  3. After steeping in the syrup, line a large tray with parchment paper then give the cranberries a gentle stir to re-coat in the syrup. Use a slotted spoon or fork to remove the cranberries, allowing excess syrup to drip off, then spread cranberries out on parchment paper. Make sure they don’t touch each other otherwise they will stick together. Tip: You can use the sugar syrup in cordials or cocktails.
  4. Leave cranberries to dry at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
  5. Pour a bit of sugar into a bowl or plate then drop a few cranberries in the sugar and roll them around until they’re completely coated. Tip: They will be very sticky so either use a fork to lift them off the parchment, or just lightly pick them up between 2 fingers and use a spoon to unstick them from your fingers, if needed.
  6. Move sugared cranberries to a tray lined with a clean sheet of parchment paper. (It doesn’t matter if they’re touching once coated in sugar). Repeat until all of the cranberries have been sugared.
  7. Set aside until needed for garnish. This can also be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Tip: We like to pour a thin layer of dry rice in the bottom of a container then place a piece of parchment paper on top, then the cranberries on that. The dry rice will help to absorb moisture.
  8. For the cupcakes, pre-heat oven to 180°C / 160°C fan and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cupcake liners. Tip: Depending on the size of your paper liners, you may find you have leftover batter, so having a 2nd muffin tin could come in handy as you may have enough batter for 1 or 2 extra.
  9. In a small bowl whisk together the flours and salt. Set aside.
  10. In a small jug combine milk with vanilla and set aside.
  11. Place butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well creamed and very pale in colour, 3-5 minutes.
  12. Add one egg then continue to beat for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the second egg. Beat again for 2-3 minutes until mixture is pale and fluffy.
  13. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients then mix until just incorporated, followed by 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Again, mixing until just incorporated.
  14. Mix in half of the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining wet ingredients. Finally, finish with the last of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
  15. Fold in the roughly chopped cranberries.
  16. Spoon the batter evenly between the prepared paper liners so that each is 3/4 full. Tip: A small ice-cream scoop works well.
  17. Bake in pre-heated oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the centre cupcake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
  18. Leave to cool in muffin pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and leave to cool completely on wire rack.
  19. For the vanilla buttercream, place all ingredients in a large bowl and start mixing on low speed with electric mixer until mostly combined, then increase speed and beat until smooth and pale in colour.
  20. To decorate cupcakes, spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large piping nozzle of your choice then pipe frosting swirls onto each cooled cupcake. Alternatively, you can also spread frosting on top with a small spatula or dull knife.
  21. Finally, decorate each cupcake with 2-3 sugared cranberries.
  22. Will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
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