Santa’s reindeer work incredibly hard. Really, it can’t be easy leading a sleigh through freezing cold, AND stinking hot weather all in one night. Through rain or shine or hail, sleet or snow. They have to slow down time and be incredibly efficient, friendly to children and full of holiday cheer.
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and OF COURSE Rudolph; if anyone deserves a treat at this time of year, it’s this lot.
But Reindeer aren’t big fans of the usual Christmas suspects – they’re allergic to chocolate, peppermint makes them sneeze, and they just plain don’t like fruit cake (can you blame them?).
What do Reindeer love? Carrots.
And while the team do enjoy a plain, raw carrot, if you happen to have one on hand, I can tell you from experience that they REALLY love a carrot muffin.
Something sweet with lovely warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and vanilla. Add some crunch from walnuts and plenty of delicious carrot and you’ve got a Reindeer friend for life. They definitely won’t forget to visit your house!
The beauty of these Reindeer cakes is that they come together very easily, which is especially useful if you’ve been focusing on those cookies for Santa. It also means that these are perfectly suitable for anyone aged about 5 and up to attempt, with minimal grown-up supervision.
Brown and white sugar get simply stirred together in a bowl, along with spices and some eggs. Flour, salt and baking powder get stirred in very lazily, followed finally by a glorious orange mountain of shredded carrot and a handful of crunchy walnuts.
Did you know that Reindeer love Walnuts? They crush the shells under their hooves, and then snuffle up the delicious nuts from among the rubble. But sometimes the ground is so icy that their tongues get stuck – so they’re very grateful if they can get them any other way.
The sticky batter, with the all-important walnuts, gets spooned into twelve muffin papers. That’s one for each reindeer and three leftover to share (or to give to Donner, he’s a bit greedy).
After around 20 minutes in a hot oven, the Santa’s Reindeer Cakes will be light, cooked through and deliciously tender. If you want to make a test-batch before Christmas Eve, you should know that these are delicious warm and spread with a little salted butter. Perfect for taking to a coffee or brunch gathering at this time of year.
I hope you try these – I know it would make the Sleigh-team very happy. Tell me, what do you leave out for Santa traditionally? And did you ever leave anything for the Reindeer? Two weeks left to Christmas!
- 2 small carrots (150g or 6oz by weight)
- ⅓ cup (75g) white sugar
- ⅓ cup (75g) dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp each of nutmeg and cardamom
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- ½ cup (125ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- Peel and grate the carrots and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a muffin tin with papers.
- Place the sugars, spices and oil into a mixing bowl and stir together. Add the eggs and stir until combined.
- Fold through the flour, salt and baking powder, and then finally add the carrots and walnuts and stir until everything is incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases, and then bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown and springing back when lightly touched. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes, and then dust with sugar and serve. These are lovely with a little salted butter.