Christmas Date Cupcakes
 
Makes 24
Ingredients
  • Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups chopped pitted dates or whole pitted dates*
  • 2¾ cups water or cold coffee
  • ¼ cup rum or brandy**
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup softened, salted butter (2 sticks, ½ pound)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (Pack it down in the cup when you measure it.)
  • Topping:
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (Use any nuts you like—I prefer walnuts or pecans)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325º, rack in the middle position.
  2. Place the chopped, pitted dates in a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl. Pour the 2¾ cups water or cold coffee on top of the dates in the bowl. Add the ¼ cup rum or brandy, and mix with a spoon. Heat the bowl in the microwave on high for 3 minutes, or until you can see that the liquids begin to boil. Use oven mitts or potholders to take the bowl out of the microwave and set it on a towel on the kitchen counter.
  3. Add the baking soda to the bowl. (Be careful—the baking soda may foam up a bit.) Stir the dates, liquids, and baking soda with a mixing spoon. Leave the bowl on the kitchen counter to cool.
  4. Place the 1 cup softened, salted butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Sprinkle the 2 cups sugar on top of the butter. Turn on the mixer, and beat the butter and sugar on low speed until they are mixed together. Turn the mixer up to medium speed, and beat the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Don’t stop beating until the mixture is a uniform color.
  5. Crack the eggs and add them to the mixer bowl, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition. Add the salt to the bowl and beat that in. Shut off the mixer.
  6. Feel the bowl with the date mixture. When you think the date mixture is not so hot it could cook the eggs, turn the mixer on low speed. Use a rubber spatula to gradually add the date mixture to the ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer. With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour in 1-cup increments, beating after each addition. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula, and resume beating at medium speed. When everything is thoroughly mixed, shut off the mixer again, and let your cupcake batter sit while you prepare your cupcake pans.
  7. You will need 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans to bake these delicious cupcakes. Place 2 cupcake papers in each cup. These cupcakes are moist, and if you use 2 papers, they will be easier for your guests to peel off before they eat the cupcakes. Give the bowl with the cupcake batter a final stir by hand. Use a spoon or a scoop to transfer the batter to the cupcake pan. Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full. You might have some batter left, but this way, you will have room for the topping.
  8. Place the milk chocolate chips in a bowl on the counter. Place the sugar in another bowl on the counter. Place the chopped nuts in a third bowl on the counter. (The reason you’ll use the separate bowls is that you may have some of the topping ingredients left over. If you do, simply put the leftover chips back in their bag, put the sugar back in its package or canister, and put the chopped nuts in a resealable plastic bag to use when you make another cake or cookie that calls for chopped nuts.)
  9. Sprinkle the top of each unbaked cupcake with milk chocolate chips. Sprinkle the milk chocolate chips with sugar. Sprinkle the sugar with chopped nuts.
  10. When all the cupcakes have been topped, use a rubber spatula or your fingers to press the topping ingredients down gently. This will cause the topping to bake onto the cupcake batter and not slide off when your guests take the cupcake papers off their baked cupcakes.
  11. Bake your Christmas Date Cupcakes at 325º for 30 to 40 minutes. Start testing after baking for 30 minutes. A cake tester or a long toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake should come out clean when the cupcakes are done. (If you happen to stick the toothpick in and hit a milk chocolate chip, it’ll come out covered with melted chocolate—just wipe it off and stick it in again to test the actual cupcake batter.)
  12. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack. These cupcakes can be served slightly warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Notes
*You can usually find the chopped, pitted dates in the produce section of your grocery store during the Christmas season. If you can’t find chopped, pitted dates, buy whole pitted dates, sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons flour, and then chop them in a food processor before measuring out the 2 cups you’ll need.
**If you don’t want to use liquor in this recipe, use a total of 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Hannah’s Note: This recipe is simple to make with an electric mixer, but you can also do it by hand with a mixing spoon, if you wish.
Recipe by TeaTime Magazine at https://www.teatimemagazine.com/add-christmas-cupcake-murder-by-joanne-fluke-to-your-holiday-reading-list/