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3 must-try Christmas recipes

While we don’t have snow, eggnog or Christmas jumpers, there’s no reason we can’t enjoy a New York-inspired festive feast down under. Be inspired by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup’s New York Christmas Baking this season – from Christmas cupcakes to cheesecake, here are three delectable baking recipes to try.

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes


130g (4½ oz) plain flour
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
60g (2¼ oz) butter, at room temperature
130g (4½ oz) raw sugar
1 egg
120ml (4 fl oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
1½ tbsp red food colouring (or beetroot powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the cream:120ml (4 fl oz) milk
20g (¾ oz) plain flour
100g (3½ oz) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla sugar
60g (2¼ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar

Also:Paper baking cups
Star-shaped sprinkles


  1. For the cream, pour the milk into a saucepan and whisk in the flour and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then simmer until thickened to a custard consistency. Remove from the heat, cover the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and leave to cool completely.
  2. Beat the butter, vanilla sugar and icing sugar until creamy, for about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the custard until the mixture is fluffy. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line 12 holes of a muffin tray with paper baking cups. Combine the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. Beat the butter in a separate bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes, then gradually add the sugar. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute. Combine the buttermilk with the food colouring and vanilla extract. Mix the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately into the butter mixture in two batches, stirring constantly. Combine the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a small bowl and fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the baking cups and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Transfer the cream into a piping bag with a wide nozzle. Pipe the topping onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with the star-shaped sprinkles.

Eggnog Cheesecake

Makes one 23cm (9 inch) cake


160g (5½ oz) shortbread biscuits
80g (2¾ oz) butter, melted
2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:

900g (2lb) cream cheese, at room temperature
250g (9 oz) creme fraiche, at room temperature
25g (1 oz) butter, softened
200g (7 oz) raw sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
1½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp cognac
4 eggs
2 egg yolks


200ml (7 fl oz) single (pure) cream
1 tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar, to taste
A little freshly grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon
25g (1 oz) white chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line the outside of a 23cm (9 inch) spring-form cake tin with two layers of foil to prevent any batter from escaping. Finely crush the biscuits and combine with the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Press firmly onto the base of the tin and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. For the filling, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until fluffy, then stir in the creme fraiche and butter. Add the sugar, cornflour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in the rum and cognac. Finally, add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Pour the mixture over the base and place the spring-form tin inside a roasting tin. Add enough boiling water to come 2.5cm (1 inch) up the side of the spring-form tin.
  3. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes, then reduce the oven to 160°C (320°F) and continue baking for another 25 minutes. The cheesecake should not be fully set yet. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside to cool for 1 hour, keeping the oven door slightly ajar. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, take off the foil and set in its tin to cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight, before removing the cheesecake from the tin.
  4. Whip the cream until stiff, sweeten with icing sugar and spread on top of the cheesecake. Dust with nutmeg and cinnamon and grate the white chocolate over the top.

Chocolate Fruit Cake

Makes one 23cm (9 inch) cake


100g (3½ oz) each dried apricots, dates, figs, prunes and raisins
140g (5 oz) dried cherries
1 vanilla bean
100ml (3½ fl oz) bourbon or rum
100ml (3½ fl oz) hot water
160g (5½ oz) plain flour
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
120g (4¼ oz) each pistachios, pecans and almonds, finely chopped
100g (3½ oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
75g (2½ oz) dried cranberries, chopped
100g (3½ oz) butter, at room temperature
100g (3½ oz) dark brown sugar
2 eggs

For the topping:

Blanched almonds
Mixed dried fruit to taste
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apricot jam

Also:Butter for the tin


  1. Coarsely chop the apricots, dates, figs and prunes and transfer the chopped fruit to a heatproof bowl together with the raisins and cherries. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla bean to the dried fruit and set the seeds aside. Warm the bourbon and add to the fruit together with the hot water. Marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Drain the fruit, reserving the liquid. Discard the vanilla bean.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Butter a 23cm (9 inch) spring-form cake tin and line with baking paper.
  3. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in the nuts, chocolate and cranberries. Beat the butter and sugar in another bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir in the vanilla seeds. Use a wooden spoon to fold in first the soaked dried fruit and then the nut, fruit and flour mixture. Transfer the batter to the prepared tin, level the top and garnish with almonds.
  4. Bake the cake for 60–75 minutes. Cover with baking paper after about half the baking time. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Coarsely chop the extra mixed dried fruit and sprinkle on top of the cake. Heat about 200ml (7 fl oz) of the reserved soaking liquid over low heat and stir in the sugar and jam. Drizzle the cake with the glaze before serving.
NewYork Christmas baking by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup

Images and Text from New York Christmas Baking by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup. Murdoch Books, RRP $35.00.

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