I never had a Christmas tree growing up, nor a Hannukah bush, so it seems like I’m now making up for lost time. They’re just so much fun to decorate, and provide so much room for creative interpretations, I can barely keep track of all of my ideas for these lovely evergreens. Even when they’re stoically weathering the conditions outside, dusted with a coat of powdery snow, they are an incredibly beautiful symbol of the season. I guess in that case, you might say I had a tree every single year for the holidays; it’s just always been outside!
This miniature forest, however, you’ll definitely want to keep indoors. Composed of chocolate cake, mint frosting, and all the sprinkles you can pile on, it’s far tastier than the traditional pine, and perhaps even more fun to adorn.
The trickiest part of creating these edible trees is locating cone-shaped paper cups, that are NOT lined with wax, but those are easily ordered online if you can’t find them at your local office supply store. Lightly spritz the insides with baking spray, and place them in oven-safe mugs so that they stand pretty much upright.
Whip out your favorite chocolate cake or cupcake recipe, and use that to fill the cones 3/4 of the way to the top. Place the mugs onto a baking sheet to easily pull the cake out of the oven, and also prevent overflow should the batter bubble over the edge. Save part of the batter and use that to fill in an equal number of mini cupcake tins- These will become the stumps later on. Bake the stumps and the trees separately.
Baking time will vary, but bear in mind that it will take longer than your average cupcake, and you’ll need to use a long skewer to test all the way down into the tip of the cone. Be patient and wait until your tester comes out completely clean, otherwise you’ll end up with mushy trees!
Let the cake pieces cool, then trim the uneven edges off both the cones and stumps. Now you’re ready to prepare whichever vanilla frosting you’re most fond of. Add in about a teaspoon of peppermint extract, and a few drops of natural green food coloring. Beat it all until fluffy and smooth, and smear a dollop on top of each stump. Carefully tear the paper cone away from the cake, and stick that on top of the stump. If you’re having some trouble getting it to stand up straight without falling, or plan on having your kids help decorate and will need some reinforcements, stick a thin wooden dowel through the whole thing, and then firmly plant the end of it into a styrofoam block.
Transfer the remaining frosting into a pipping bag fitted with a large star tip, and simply press the tip to the side of the cake, starting at the bottom, give it a little pressure, and pull straight away. Go around the cake, working your way up, until you reach the top. Once the trees are covered with pine needles, it’s time to pull out the sprinkles, dragees, and quins, and just have fun with it!
You could also go the more elegant route and give each tree a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar for that classic snowy look.
There are a number of other similar ideas for tree cake out there, each very creative and cute, so look around, get inspired, and make one of these for each guest at your holiday dinner. They’re both fun to make and eat!