Christmas this year was hosted by the hubby’s parents which we were very excited about. We have hosted Christmas lunch for the previous two years, which was fun don’t get me wrong, but 2013 had its fair share of rough moments which left neither of us feeling very Christmas-y.
That didn’t get us out of a couple of jobs for Christmas lunch which were making the chicken, which the hubby was in charge of, and a cake for dessert to go with my mother-in-law’s Cassata (there is a law that Cassata has to be made each year for our family Christmas or there will be trouble). After changing my mind 500 times about what I was going to make, on Christmas Eve I decided to go with a common theme from this year of cupcake cakes and made a Christmas Tree Cupcake Cake.
You may recall the first cupcake cake was for my Dad’s birthday and I also made one for a 19th birthday. Teaming with the theme (avoid saying that without a Kath and Kim accent), I thought a cupcake cake would be quite quick and easy to put together, so I made the cupcakes the day before Christmas and decorated it Christmas morning. You could certainly do this all in one day but I was happy to spread it out as much as possible.
If you search the interweb for a Christmas Tree Cupcake Cake you will come up with loads of different examples and video tutorials. I decided to draw inspiration from various incarnations to create my little tree.
Using the same vanilla cupcake recipe from the Golf Course Cake, I whipped up a batch of cupcakes and then piped in some of the leftover lemon filling from a lemon tart I made a couple of days before, and then made some basic vanilla buttercream to ice it all with. I placed enough of the buttercream for two cupcakes in a separate bowl and added enough cocoa powder to get a nice rich brown colour (and don’t forget that delicious chocolate flavour). The rest of the buttercream was coloured mint green for the tree body.
I covered a 17″ cake board with some Christmas wrapping paper I had leftover and positioned 12 cupcakes onto the board in the shape of a Christmas tree. The two cupcakes being used for the tree trunk were covered in the chocolate icing before being stuck to the board in a basic flat icing style with a generous amount of the buttercream.
Place the chocolate iced cupcakes back on the board and once happy with the position, stick down all of the cupcakes with a little buttercream on the bottom of each case. You want to get the cupcakes as close to each other as possible so squish them up nice and tight, but not tight enough you end up with odd shaped cupcakes.
Once the cupcakes are secured, you can smooth the icing of the trunk together to fill the gap between each cupcake and to make it appear more rectangular. To make them look more like a tree trunk, I waved the tip of my small offset spatula up and down across both the cupcakes in a continuous line to create the illusion of bark.
There are number of ways that you can pipe the tree and I decided to stick with my much loved rose swirl using a 2D tip instead of the usual 1M tip as it creates a more billowy and delicate rose. You want to make sure that you pipe over the edge of each cupcake so you can cover all of the gaps in between. If you do end up with any gaping holes at the end you can either pipe a little star, or just cover with one of your decorations.
To decorate, I made a star out of some of the leftover gold marshmallow fondant I made for my colouring book cake mixed with a little tylose powder to firm it up. Once cut out using a cookie cutter, I painted it with some gold lustre dust to add some bling. You probably should wait until the star firms up a bit to avoid brush marks, but I decorated this on Christmas morning so there was no way the star was going to set before I needed to dust it so just took extra care.
You can use whatever lollies your heart desires to create a stream of Christmas lights, to imitate baubles or use mini candy canes. If you prefer, you can certainly make your own decorations out of fondant or modelling chocolate. I went with chocolate freckles and choc-orange balls. In my head, the freckles would represent sparkly lights and I was going to pipe a thin line in chocolate to imitate the string of lights but decided I didn’t want to risk stuffing up the cake, so I added the choc-orange balls as the baubles.
The star was not quite firm enough when I placed it on the cake so I had to position a few toothpicks underneath the top three points to keep it propped up.
This did turn out to be a very simple, yet effective, dessert for a rainy Christmas day with the beauty of it being each person can just grab a cupcake and it is the perfect portion control after an epic lunchtime feast. It did take considerable less effort than my last two Christmas desserts being the Bûche de Noël (which my Godmother still raves about) and the Red Velvet White Christmas Cake, but it still screamed Christmas all over.
I would love to hear about your Christmas desserts, what did you make, or just consume, this Christmas?