Christmas Cakes: Cinnamon Spiced Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

With only one week to go until Christmas Day, I'm already dreaming of all the delicious food I'm going to be making (and eating) over the festive holidays. So much so that today, I whipped up a batch of these lovely cinnamon spiced cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to fill my home with a bit of Christmas Spirit.

This year, I've taken on the responsibility of cooking Christmas dinner for 20 at my boyfriend's family home. It will be the first time that I've actually cooked Christmas dinner (or cooked for that many people at once) and I'm rather looking forward to it.

The kitchen has become one of my favourite places over the last few years so I can't wait to spend the final days of 2016 cooking up a storm with a gin and tonic in hand. Armed with a fridge full of tasty, traditional Christmas foods, I can't wait to get my fabulously tacky Christmas apron on and put on a spiffingly-good spread!

What I'm most looking forward to is doing Christmas dinner my way (inspired by my wonderful mother, of course). Homemade soup, fresh bread, cold starters, a hearty main featuring every single seasonal vegetable at its best, followed by a selection of desserts; my tastebuds are tingling at the thought!

But before I spill all of my Christmas dinner secrets, I'll leave you with the recipe for my cinnamon spiced cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Delicious, moist, fragrant and sprinkled with traditional Christmas spices, these cupcakes are the perfect festive treat to bake and share with your loved ones and to really get you in the mood for Christmas.

Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

Ingredients (makes 16 cupcakes)
200g of plain wholemeal flour
200g of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
160g of unsalted butter
160ml of soya milk
Orange zest

For the icing:
300g of icing sugar
50g of unsalted butter
125g of cream cheese
Walnuts to decorate

1.  Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 / 170 degrees C.
2. Sift all of the dry ingredients (wholemeal flour, dark brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt) into a bowl and combine
3. Add the cubed butter and mix until the mixture resembles sand.
4. Add the eggs, one by one and mix in the maple syrup.
5. Add the soya milk, vanilla extract and zest and beat together until the batter is smooth.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Cool completely before frosting.
8. To make the cream cheese frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together using an electric whisk until completely mixed.
9. Add the cream cheese and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
10. Pipe the icing onto each cupcake and garnish with chopped walnuts.
12. Share with family and friends and enjoy the taste of Christmas!

Up, Close And Personal: SmoothSkin Gold IPL Trial Week 7

 If the human body makes you squeamish, look away now...
Because this is about to get personal.

7 weeks ago, I started my permanent hair removal trial on my legs, underarms and bikini area with the SmoothSkin Gold IPL device. If you missed out on my introductory blog, you can read it here. I've already mentioned in great detail how self-conscious I am of my body hair; we just don't get on and we never will so quite frankly, I'd much rather it didn't exist at all. That's the ultimate goal, anyway and that's why I'm dabbling with the SmoothSkin device.

With an open mind, an overly hairy disposition and a sprinkle of optimism, I started on a journey that has the potential to reduce my hair growth but to what extent is unknown. The SmoothSkin Gold IPL device claims to be one of the most powerful home-use ILP devices on the market and can treat unwanted hairs within minutes but of course, every hair is different.

So before using the SmoothSkin Gold IPL device, I documented the hair growth on my legs, underarms and bikini area with the knowledge that I would want to track my progress pre-IPL and throughout the trial. I visually monitored my progress week by week until I started seeing results that would translate on camera, which happened to be at Week 7 - just over half way through the suggested 12 week treatment programme.

Yet looking at the photographs - even as I'm about to press 'Publish', I'm not sure I have the courage to post them on my blog. Although it's one of the most natural things in the world, body hair makes me squeamish. No, let me rephrase that. My body hair makes me squeamish. It's made me so self-conscious for so many years that I'm programmed to feel disgusted by it.

It's not about anybody else. I would never judge somebody for being hairy because I understand the pain it can cause. It's about me and my relationship with my own body hair. But to recognise the results of the IPL treatment, you need some sort of photographic evidence, otherwise the effort is futile. The fact of the matter is that if this series of hair-related posts helps only one person to feel better about their own body hair or to find a hair reduction solution that's suitable for them, then it's worth the embarrassment of a few photos.

So without further ado, here are my results to date:

Week 0                                                                          Week 7

Week 0                                                              Week 7

First of all, it's worth relaying that the treatment process is quick, really easy and almost pain-free. The only requirement before you start a treatment session is to shave and then to zap away in a stamping motion for maximum precision. In terms of time, I can zap my whole bikini area and my underarms in less than 10 minutes and the device also has a 'gentle mode' button which reduces the energy released to benefit those who have sensitive skin.

Moving swiftly back to my results so far, I found that the treatment worked so quickly on my legs that I'm only having to zap them every two weeks. The hairs have also become so fair that my camera couldn't detect them so please excuse my lack of evidence. The treatment on my underarms is also showing good progress so far. As you can see, there are patches of hair that are noticeably thinner and it's also possible to see areas where the hair is not growing back at all.

However, the hair on my bikini area is a lot more coarse than anywhere else on my body and it's taking longer to disable the hair follicles. There is still progress and hair growth is reduced but my hair in this area is so strong (I also have more than one hair per follicle), which means more cycles to destroy and more time needed to destroy them.

So far, I'm happy with the treatment process and my results and I'm confident that I'll see a greater reduction in hair growth as I approach Week 12. 

To be continued...
© Rosie Romance

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