Christmas tree cupcakes
Skill level: Bit of effort
These festive Christmas tree cupcakes combine a rich chocolate sponge, a minty bright green buttercream and a sweet star to make some tasty Christmas cupcakes. The light Swiss meringue buttercream, made with mint flavouring and green food colouring, can be easily piped to resemble a tree then all you have to do is decorate as you wish. Practise your piping skills on a clean surface or plate before piping onto the cakes so you can get the effect right. Always have the same decorations? Personalise the decorations for a nice family twist.
IngredientsFor the cakes:
- 50g self-raising flour
- 50g plain flour
- 175g caster sugar
- 90g good quality cocoa powder
- ¼tsp salt
- 125ml buttermilk
- 125ml warm water
- ½tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½tsps vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1tsp baking powder
For the buttercream:
- 3 egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- Pinch salt
- 300g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
- Green food colour
- Couple of drops of mint extract (optional)
For the stars:
- 75g fondant
- Yellow food colour
- ¼ tsp gum tragacanth (optional)
- Gold food paint
- Gold lustre dust
- 3cm star cutters
You will also need:
- Piping Bag with Wilton 1M nozzle
If your buttercream looks soupy, don’t throw it away, you just need to beat some more.
For the star toppers:
- A day before you make thecupcakes, add ¼tsp of gum tragacanth (if using) and a dot of yellow food colour to the fondant and knead for 5 mins. Wrap in cling film and an air-tight bag and leave overnight.
- The next day, roll the fondant to 1/8 of an inch thick and cut 12x 3cm stars.
- Leave them to dry for a couple of hours. When they are dry, paint them with the edible food paint and leave them to dry for 30 mins before dusting them with gold lustre.
For the cakes:
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Place 12 paper cases into a deep muffin pan.
- Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then add all other ingredients and beat until smooth.
- Add the mixture to the cases and bake for 25 mins. Remove and leave the cakes in the tins for 10 mins before popping on a wire rack to cool.
For the buttercream:
- Add the egg whites, salt and sugar to a large heat proof bowl and heat over a pan of boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. If you have a sugar thermometer the sugar will be dissolved when it gets to between 140–160°F or when it doesn’t feel gritty anymore. Be very careful as melted sugar is extremely hot.
- When the sugar has dissolved, beat with an electric beater until you have stiff peak consistency - it should take about 8 mins. Stand mixers are good for this but not essential. Once you have stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to touch, add in the butter one cube at a time until all the butter has been mixed in. It may look like the buttercream split at one stage, this is normal, keep beating until you hear a slapping sound, this means it’s ready. Add a couple of drops of mint extract and green food colouringuntil you get the desired taste and colour.
- Add a Wilton 1m to a piping bag and add the buttercream to the piping bag. Pipe a swirl on each cupcake, by starting in the centre, working your way out to the paper cases using this as guide to pipe up and around the star, reducing the size of the swirl as you go. Finish by pushing down slightly and pulling up quickly. Add the coloured sprinkles and a star to the top.