Giving the odd couples on Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special a run for their money is this recipe’s unlikely pairing: fruit cakes and Polo mints.
These mini mincemeat-laced sponges are marzipaned and iced to rival the classiest of tree decorations. But will they hang? The real question is whether anything this tasty will even make it onto the tree...
For the fairy cakes:
140g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
175g unsalted butter, soft, diced
175g muscavado sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
60g ground almonds
To ice and decorate:
4 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, to dust
1 tbsp sherry or cooled, boiled water
750g white sugarpaste
Packet of Polo mints
60g bag white royal icing, no.1 nozzle
30-50g red sugarpaste
60g bag red royal icing, no.1 nozzle
You will need:
24 red paper cases
6.5cm round cutter
7cm round cutter
Selection of tiny cutters
Lengths of 5mm-wide ribbon
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/ 350F. Line two fairy cake tins with paper cases. Sift first 5 ingredients into a bowl; add butter, sugar, eggs and nuts. Beat with an electric whisk. Fold in mincemeat. Divide batter between cases and bake for 15–18 mins, or until springy. Leave cakes tins for 2 mins, then cool on a rack.
2. Warm the jam slightly, push it through a sieve, then brush it lightly over each cake.
3. Roll marzipan out to 4–5mm thick on a worktop dusted with icing sugar. Using the smaller cutter, stamp out discs of marzipan to top each cake. Brush lightly with sherry or water. Use larger cutter to create white sugarpaste discs (the same size as the top of the cases) and smooth over the cake edges. Press a mint into each to make a ring, attaching with royal icing if needed. Leave overnight.
4. To decorate, roll out to 2–3mm thick on a board dusted with icing sugar. To make buttons, cut out tiny rounds, indent the edge with a smaller cutter and make two holes with a cocktail stick. Attach all the sugarpaste decorations with royal icing. Pipe details with the white and red royal icing. Thread the mints with ribbon.
Tip: Sugarpaste decorations can be made in advance and stored in a box (not in an airtight container or the fridge).
RECIPE AND IMAGE TAKEN FROM SEASONAL BAKING BY FIONA CAIRNS (WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON, £25). PHOTOGRAPHY DAN JONES