Bring the brandy up to the boil on the hob then remove and add the cranberries. Cover with a lid and leave for one hour.
Meanwhile, put the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl – flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and butter (treat butter as ‘dry’ for our purposes). Mix until you have an even sandy consistency.
Measure out the milk in a jug, add the egg and vanilla and whisk well. Drizzle into the flour whilst mixing, until you have a smooth batter/mixture. Add the chocolate chips and drained cranberries and mix in briefly without bashing into pieces, reserving the brandy for later. Spoon evenly into 12 cupcake cases and bake at 170°C for 20 minutes until they bounce back when touched. Cool on a wire rack. At this point you can store in a tightly-sealed container for up to four days and decorate later.
In the meantime make the icing by mixing all the ingredients together for several minutes until light and fluffy. Pour in 10-20ml of your cooking brandy into the icing depending on the consistency – you should aim for something that holds its shape without being too stiff. Pipe the icing on top of the cakes using a reusable piping bag and large star nozzle.
To decorate, roll out a small amount of white fondant and cut with a circular cutter about 5cm in diameter. Place with on top of your icing allowing folds to appear like a table cloth around the sides. Roll out some dark green fondant, and either cut out three holly leaves if you have a cutter or mould three leaves if you do not. Place these on your fondant with a dab of a damp paintbrush. Roll three red berries from your red fondant and stick on top with the damp paintbrush to finish.
Inactive prep. time: 1 hour.