Happy (almost) winter everyone! This snowy season happens to be my second favorite – ranking in juuust under autumn! So to celebrate the chilly change in weather, I’ve put together these delicious and charming chocolate brandy snow globe cupcakes.
Comprised of a warm brandy chocolate cake, and topped with luscious eggnog German buttercream, you can’t eat just one!
German buttercream has pastry cream at its base. Then, it is whipped up with some butter to create a light, not-too-sweet frosting. It has a really butter-forward flavor, perfect for enhancing the delectable eggnog spice. If you shudder at the thought of tooth-numbingly sweet American-style buttercream – this is the recipe for you!
Then, we add adorable little fondant decorations; you can customize this step for time- or skill-constraints! Plus, I’ll share the simple method I used (a combination of a few different concepts I found online) to craft gelatin into clear, snow globe domes.
These charming chocolate brandy snow globe cupcakes are the perfect winter treat you might just crave all year long.
So, let’s get started!
Gather Your Ingredients
To create your chocolate brandy snow globe cupcakes, you’ll need some common kitchen items, as well as a few unique tools.
I’ve linked all of the tools below for easy shopping, in case you are missing a few items! I may make a commission based on resulting sales, at no additional charge to you. Full disclosure available below.
- Whisk & spatula
- Mixing bowls
- Hand-held or stand mixer
- Measuring cup with pour spout
- Cupcake tins (2)
- Cupcake liners
- Medium-sized saucepan
- Fine-mesh sieve
- Plastic wrap
- 11 sheets of platinum-grade (high-bloom) gelatin – I would not recommend using powdered gelatin, as it does not dry as clear
- Small balloons – I tried regular, but found that water-balloons are a great size for the domes
- Non-stick cooking spray or oil
- Wooden skewers
- Clear tape
- Styrofoam block
- White fondant
- Food coloring gels
- Fondant tools
- Silver luster-dust spray
Chocolate Brandy Snow Globe Cupcakes Recipe & Tutorial
Before getting started baking and decorating, first peruse my tips and notes! Then, fully read through the recipe to better understand the decorating process! After that, you’ll be in the best position to create your lovely chocolate brandy snow globe cupcakes!
First things first: German buttercream must be refrigerated, but the fondant decorations and gelatin domes cannot. So make sure to assemble the cupcakes as close as possible to serving time. You can prep the individual ingredients ahead of time, storing each separately per its requirements.
Too, keep in mind that, while the fondant and gelatin are completely edible, they typically aren’t the most pleasing to eat. For that reason, I only decorated about three of my cupcakes with fondant snowmen and the snow globe domes.
For the rest, I added a small fondant snowflake. That way, I didn’t waste a lot of materials, but still presented a beautiful, show-stopping platter of cupcakes. Thus, this recipe only makes about 6 snowglobe domes. If you’d like to make more, simply scale the recipe.
Based on time and skill level, you can omit the fondant snowmen if you please. I didn’t include a tutorial today, but you can check out my video in this post for an introduction to working with fondant. If you would like to see an in-depth video tutorial covering all things fondant, please leave me a comment below!
With those items covered, I believe we are ready to get to baking! Feel free to print out this recipe to use in your kitchen, or save it to Pinterest with one of the “pinnable” images below!
Chocolate Brandy Snow Globe Cupcakes & Eggnog German Buttercream
Chocolate Brandy Cupcakes
- 1½ cups flour
- ¾ cups cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- ⅔ cup coffee
- ⅓ cup brandy
Eggnog German Buttercream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup eggnog
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp brandy
- 3 large egg yolks
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 4 sticks softened butter
- 4 tbsp powdered sugar
- 11 sheets platinum-grade, high-bloom gelatin
- 8 cups ice water
- 1 can non-stick cooking spray
- ½ lb fondant
- 1 bottle edible spray luster dust
Chocolate Brandy Cupcakes
- Line your cupcake tins with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat together the softened butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix again.
- Add the milk, coffee, and brandy to a cup with a pour spout.
- In three additions, alternate adding the dry and wet mixtures to the beaten ingredients, stirring in between, starting with the flour.
- Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners, filling a little more than two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Let cool fully to room temperature before decorating. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored covered, at room temperature, for a few days.
Eggnog German Buttercream
- Pour ¾ of the milk and ¾ of the eggnog into a medium saucepan, with the vanilla, nutmeg, and brandy. Heat until it comes to a simmer.
- In the meantime, whisk the remaining eggnog and milk in a mixing bowl, along with the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
- Temper the mixture by slowly streaming the simmering liquid into the egg/sugar bowl, whisking vigorously to avoid curdling.
- Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place it over high heat, whisking the entire time until it thickens.
- Once the mixture has thickened, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a shallow bowl or dish. Cover the surface of the pastry cream directly with plastic wrap, and let it cool to room temperature. Then, remove the plastic wrap and whisk it again by hand to re-fluff.
- With a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Then, with the mixer running, add the pastry cream to the butter tablespoon by tablespoon. At the end, add the powdered sugar. Mix for a few minutes more, until combined and fluffy. Pipe or spread onto your cooled cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Place the water and some ice in a large bowl. One by one, add the gelatin sheets to the water and submerge. Let them sit in the water for about ten minutes. This is a common process called "blooming" the gelatin, which is necessary with sheets and powder, alike.
- Then, remove the sheets, ringing out the water, placing them into a small, clean saucepan, along with 4 tbsp of the remaining ice water.
- Warm the gelatin over low, swirling the pan around to heat it evenly. Remove from the stove when most of the gelatin has melted. Don't let it bubble or boil. Cool slightly, until the viscosity is a bit thicker, but don't allow the gelatin to harden.
- In the meantime, inflate six water balloons (with air) and tie them to skewers. Then, prop them up in your styrofoam block. I like to keep my styrofoam block wrapped in the plastic in which it is delivered. That way, I can easily wipe off drips or spills, allowing me to use it again. Spray a paper towel with your non-stick cooking oil, and gently wipe each balloon. Make sure to only lightly coat each balloon, not allowing the latex to get shiny or oily. (I made this mistake at first, and the gelatin wouldn't stay on the balloon - at all. Balance is key.)
- Tilt your pan, and dip each balloon in the gelatin, rolling it around to evenly coat all of the sides. Let any excess drip off, and then place back into the styrofoam block. If, at any time, your gelatin becomes too hard to work with, gently reheat it to soften. Let the balloons dry for about 5 minutes. Then, repeat the process, adding a second coat of gelatin to the balloons.
- Allow the balloons to dry in front of a fan (ceiling is fine) until the gelatin has fully hardened. This took me about 12 hours, but can vary depending upon the amount of airflow and humidity level.
- Then, place a small piece of tape on the exposed latex part of the balloon, and pierce through the tape to slowly deflate the balloon. This helps prevent your balloon from popping suddenly. The air may rush out quickly, and appear to collapse your dome - but don't worry! This is okay! The gelatin is actually quite flexible and pops back into place. Let the balloon slowly detach itself from the edges of the gelatin. If you need, gently pull to remove sections that stick. Use your fingers to smooth the dome back into shape. Then, trim the rough edges of the gelatin with scissors before placing it on your decorated cupcake.
- Use the silver luster dust spray to mist the outside of the domes and your fondant pieces to add a sparkly finishing touch. Store the domes at room temperature - separate from the cupcakes - until time to serve.
Voila! With that, you have beautiful, show-stopping, and delicious snow globe cupcakes. I promise you – you’ll be craving this treat once you get a bite!
Just Don’t Shake These Chocolate Brandy Snow Globe Cupcakes…
Realistic as they look, you’ll have to refrain from shaking these snow globe cupcakes. Instead, the sparkly luster dust spray provides a beautiful, light shimmer – reminiscent of your favorite childhood snow globe.
If you liked these cute cupcakes, be sure to find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch! Don’t forget to tag me in any photos you post of your culinary creations – I love to see what you’re up to in the kitchen.
Feel free to enter your email below to receive a quick notification of my next blog post like this one. I have a few fun winter bakes coming up, and I’m certain you don’t want to miss them!
Take care guys! Until next time…
Addicted to Pinterest, like me? Pin the image below to save this recipe for later or show it to your friends. After all, sharing is caring. 😉