Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

You didn't think I would do all this Christmas baking and not do cupcakes, did you? Shame on you if you did! These Christmas tree cupcakes were the first thing I decided to make when I was planning my Christmas baking schedule. If this crazy year of blogging has taught me anything, cutely decorated cupcakes are an easy way to bring a smile to almost anyone's face. I can pretty much bake cupcakes with my eyes closed nowadays, when I'm making them I just go into auto-pilot. Which is good, since it means I have more energy leftover to decorate my cupcakes. In the beginning I would be so stressed from the baking part alone that I would be completely over it by the time it came to decorate them, and would just slop some icing on top.
These little Christmas tree cupcakes are chocolate cakes topped with peppermint icing. Don't be scared by the massive heap of icing on top, these are just mini cupcakes, the same ones that I used to make my ice cream cone cupcakes, so the photos make them look a lot bigger than they actually are. I love using Nigella's choc cake recipe since it is so easy and guarantees a super moist chocolatey cake. The mint buttercream turned out a slightly more lurid green than I expected, but I couldn't bring myself to add any more food colouring to make it darker. It's not too rich though, just a little morsel to decorate a table (and to snack on later!)
I made these mini Christmas tree cupcakes for Asian Gaga. I originally promised to bake her a ton of my chocolate peppermint creams for Christmas, but when I finally came to do it, I got completely sidetracked by this idea for cupcakes. Anyway I think it's more special :) And chocolate & peppermint is always a fabulous combination in my opinion. I know there are some people out there who don't like it, so you could change the icing to pandan flavoured (switching the peppermint essence for pandan essence) and the cake could be changed to coconut flavour (using this recipe).
I loved using the cachous for decorating, don't you think they look just like Christmas tree baubles? They're a little hard on the teeth, so if you prefer you could replace them with the usual colourful sprinkles. I topped each of them with a little white sugar heart, but I wish I could have gotten something star shaped instead!
Christmas Tree Cupcakes
(cake recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake)
100g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
20g Dutch process cocoa powder
85g unsalted butter, softened
75g sour cream
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

125g unsalted butter, softened slightly
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp peppermint essence
Green food colouring
Silver/Multi-colour cachour and/or other sprinkles for decorating
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, cocoa, butter, egg, vanilla and sour cream into a food processor and pulse until all the ingredients come together and you have a smooth, thick batter. Spoon the batter into a lined mini muffin tray (about 3/4 full) and bake for about 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake springs back slightly under your finger when you press it gently. Remove from the tray and cool completely on a wire rack.
When cakes are cool, beat butter at high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar into bowl, add peppermint essence and green food colouring. Add the green colouring as you fold everything together using a spatula, so that you can adjust the shade of green. I think I ended up adding about 1/4 tsp of colouring. Add more icing sugar if you think the icing is not stiff enough.
Pipe icing in a spiral to make it look like the tops of Christmas trees (hopefully with slightly more skill than me...mine were a bit wonky).
Decorate the 'trees' with your cachous and sugar sprinkles, or whatever you want! Leave out to set for about 30 mins, and then serve dusted with icing sugar or store in an airtight container.
Makes about 24 little Christmas tree cupcakes.
I brought some of these into work today, though they got a bit bashed up on the train trip here. Don't ask me why, but we have a stash of those plastic googly eyes at work, so I couldn't resist giving one of my trees a little bit of extra personality. Don't worry I didn't let anyone accidently eat the eyes!
Hello Mr. Tree!
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  1. LOL at the last picture! THE EYES!!! Love the brightness of the green :)

  2. Omg these are the most adorable cupcakes I've ever seen! Beautiful piping work too. If it was me, my trees would be lopsided lol!

  3. Cute cupcakes! Love Mr googly eyes hehe

  4. So cute and delicious, too! Making the cakes in a mini size is such a good idea.

  5. oh these are so inspired! i might have to borrow this idea for christmas :)

    they remind me of soft-serve cones, and yes, very neat piping indeed!

  6. OMG - they are soooo cute! You have inspired me to try and make these!! :)

  7. You know there's just too many faces on cupcakes that are possible now that you've slapped eyes on the tree!

  8. Yay! They're awesome!!! I love cachous too, even though they remind me of the time when I was 3 and I dropped a jar of them on the ground, they smashed, and I got a smack and ran off crying to my cot. I just wanted some shiny balls, wahh!

    Googley eyes, tee hee!

  9. They're gorgeous Steph! Hehe yes we shouldn't have assumed that there weren't going to be any cupcakes. What we should have assumed though is that they'd be very cute :)

  10. Steph!! I've been waiting for these as soon as you posted the picture on twitter! I like the idea of giving your readers a choice between peppermint and pandan... I definitely would love to try the pandan flavour!

  11. These look amazing! I'm guessing you can't put clingwrap over them for storage. Not that they'd be around for long!

  12. Hee hee sooo cute ^^! esp Mr. Tree... but I would still eat him haha mmmm

  13. These are so cute! I'm thinking of making these and your mini gingerbread houses for christmas now!

  14. omg, this is such a cool looking cupcake. So appropriate for this festive season.

    I bet that there would be a way to make edible eyes. Think of all the food items that would be made better if they had bobbily eyes staring back at you :)

  15. They are so cute.. Nice piping. I dont have very steady hands and I always get my piping wrong. What a perfect Christmas treat.

  16. so cute and good work with the piping :)

  17. Oh! You have the cutest ideas when it comes to cupcakes - I love these!

  18. Holy cow that is a vibrant shade of green! So very Christmassy and adorable! Lucky Asian Gaga to have such a talented baker friend!

  19. These are so cute Steph! great job, they really get you into the Christmas spirit.

  20. What a great idea! Simple and affective, totally cool. Merry Christmas!!!

  21. Hahaha love the piping skills Steph!!! Oohh and that last one with the crazy eyes... are the eyes edible??

  22. oh they look so cute, but I cant help but think they would look even cutier with a jelly bean angel ontop! Merry christmas and great job!!

  23. Ellie - Hehehe I couldn't resist! Yes the green was a little disturbing but I didn't want to make it any darker, I already used so much green!

    Karen - Hahaha was very clumsy piping work actually, a lot of mine were wonky!

    missklicious - hehehe mr googly eyes had a happy but short life :)

    Belle - Thank you dear! I love mini cakes, they're just the perfect bite sized treat!

    Helen - Ooh yes, borrow away! I hope they turn out well for you :D Ooh soft serve cones...there's an idea ;)

    Joy - Thank you! Ooh let me know how they turn out!

    mademoiselle délicieuse - I only wish the eyes were the edible kind!

    Conor - Hhaaha awww!! Who could blame you for wanting the shiny silver balls??

    Lorraine - Haha aww thanks :D

    Trissa - Yeah I wish I had time to try the pandan flavour as well! Thank you!! :D

    HeNeedsFood - Yeah unfortunately they are a little delicate to store. However if you want you can add more icing sugar to the buttercream to make it stiffer and less likely to smush.

    FFichiban - Hahaha well i don't know how well those plastic eyes would digest :S

    Jacq - Yayayay I was so happy when you did the gingerbread houses :) I hope you do these too!

    Simon - Hehe thanks! Oh I'm sure it's easy to do edible eyes, but I certainly don't have the energy to try! I agree it would be so awesome though! Macarons with eyes!

    A cupcake or two - Thank you!! Haha I'm terrible at piping too, but this isn't too hard since you just need to do a spiral!

    betty - Aww thanks so much!

    shez - :D Thanks dude!

    Forager - Heh yeah I went a little nuts with the food colouring. Thanks :D

    Anita - Thanks so much! They went down well :)

    The Ninja - :D :D :D

    Brenda - Hehe yes exactly! Very simple :) Merry Christmas to you too!

    Trish - Haha I can only hope to make them look slightly close to how good yours look! haha no they're plastic

    Maria - Ooh a jelly bean would be great! Wish I had bought more decorations for them :( Thanks, Merry Christmas to you too!

  24. Hey what piping nozzle did you use to frost these cute mini's?

  25. JoJo - Umm not 100% sure but it was something like a 0.5cm star tip


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