Bring this festive Christmas Tree Pull Apart Cupcake Cake to your next holiday party and just wait for the look on your friends faces when they see your creation! With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be making this Christmas Cake in no time.
This is my first time attempting a cupcake cake. Have you ever heard of it? You’re basically using cupcakes to make a larger shaped cake, often with a unique shape or design. It’s frosted and decorated and then your friends can grab a cupcake when they’re ready to eat it.
This was my first time make a pull apart cupcake cake, and I decided to make this Christmas Tree Cake as an excuse to use some of my fun sprinkles I’ve been stashing away.
I am pretty darn proud of how this turned out! I just LOVE this style of cupcake decorating that’s been sweeping Instagram by storm. It’s a similar technique to what I used for my Unicorn Cupcakes.
I always thought these cakes seemed more difficult than they actually are. You can totally make this cake, and I will share with you all my helpful tips and things I learned along the way.
You can make this with vanilla cupcakes or chocolate cupcakes for the Christmas tree. Don’t worry about making these from scratch either, using a boxed mix is just as easy. Just make sure you have at least 24 cupcakes.
If you make my vanilla cupcakes, the recipe makes anywhere rom 24-28 cupcakes. I used a couple of the extra cupcakes to make the presents under the tree. I also think it would be super cute to use the extra batter to make mini cupcakes for the presents.
Then you’ll need a batch of my vanilla frosting. This recipe is excellent for decorating cupcakes. My secrets for making buttercream involve starting with COLD butter which allows you to more closely control the consistency of your frosting.
For this recipe, you want a really light and fluffy whipped frosting. This means you’ll want to whip the frosting for several minutes at various stages but most importantly, prior to adding any powdered sugar. It’s helpful if you review the tips for my vanilla frosting prior to starting.
Let me walk you through the various steps and helpful tips you’ll need to make this cupcake cake.
How to lay out the Christmas Tree Cupcake Cake
You’ll need at least 24 cupcakes for this tree. For the trunk, you can use 1 or 2 cupcakes. For the top of the tree or the “star” you need to least one. You can also get creative and make your star out of something else like a cookie or look for a cute candle.
- You’ll need 21 cupcakes for the tree portion laid out in a line with 6 across the bottom, then 5 on the next layer, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
- I found it easier to lay out the cupcakes prior to decorating, but you might find it easier to count them first and then lay then out after you’ve added the initial first layer of frosting.
- After you’ve added the first, bottom layer of frosting, you’ll definitely want to lay them out in the shape of the tree to add the decorative frosting on top, that way you can see it all come together.
If you need to transport this cake, you’ll need a board at least 16-inches by 18-inches wide and most cake boards are not made this large. I suggest cutting a large piece of cardboard (maybe even a double layer) and covering it with aluminum foil.
How to frost this Christmas Tree Cake
Once you have the cupcakes laid out, it’s time to start decorating! Initially I was worried about the gaps between the cupcakes, but I think it actually works just fine, but you can also use the smaller tips to fill in some of the gaps. I go into more detail below and all the products I used are linked at the bottom of this post.
- If you are going to use some white frosting for the two toned frosting, plan ahead and set some aside prior to dying all the green frosting.
- The green frosting can soften as you use it due to handling, so I recommend preparing two separate large piping bags of frosting in an effort to prevent this and also make it easier to handle.
- Then I prepare a separate, smaller bag fitted with the piping tips. I drop the larger, filled bags in the smaller one. In this way, you can easier change out the piping tips as you go. For more tips on using piping bags, see separate blog post
- Place a small dollop of frosting on each cupcake and spread evenly with an angled spatula. This does help cover the edges of the cupcakes. You don’t need a very thick layer, I’d say about a teaspoon of frosting on each one, and try to spread it out to the edges (as pictured above)
- First use a 1M piping tip to make the large roses. You may want to come back in halfway through and add some smaller ones in the gaps
- Then I used a large French star tip (size 866) to make large dollops of frosting and large swirls. This is a great tip to consider combining a bag of white and green frosting to add a little dimension with a two toned frosting. For my cake, I used the smaller piping tips, but in hindsight, a larger tip would be better.
- Next I grabbed some of my smaller tips, size 21 and and size 199 to fill in the gaps making smaller rosettes. For these, use a small piping bags fitted with a coupler so you can easier change out the piping tips as you go.
- To frost the trunk: I mixed a little melted chocolate into the vanilla frosting to give it the brown color. Once you frost the cupcakes, use a fork or toothpick to give them a “rough” look like a tree trunk. Don’t melt the chocolate until you’re ready to use, because once you add it to the frosting, it turns more into a “fudge” and can be more difficult to spread.
- To frost the star: I set aside some white frosting to frost the top of the cupcake with and then dipped it in a gold sprinkles, then I added some gold dragée triangles to make the star.
- Then you can decorate this tree to your hearts content. I used some festive sprinkles from Sweetapolita, but you can also purchase sugar decorations from Wilton or other suppliers. This is definitely the most fun part and a great way to get the kids involved!
- If you have extra cupcakes, you can make the presents. Frost the top of the cupcake with white frosting and dip in sanding sugar. Then prepare a couple tablespoons of frosting with red coloring, and use a small open round tip (size 5 or smaller) to pipe the ribbon on the cake. Top with a large sugar pearl.
Tips for dying the green frosting
I have covered in great detail lots of tips for how to color buttercream, however certain colors also require a little fine tuning and green is one of those color.
First of all, be sure that you use a gel type food color not the typically food coloring you find at the grocery store- those are liquid based and can make your frosting too thin. Gel colors are much thicker and more concentrated, and therefore you can get bright and vibrant colors without thinning your frosting.
I used Ameri Color “Leaf Green”. Straight out of the bottle, this color is great, but it looks more like Easter grass than a Christmas tree. So, I added a touch of yellow and a touch of black to make the color darker. I mean tiny- don’t go overboard here. Use a toothpick to add the black instead of dropping it into the bowl.
Ameri color sells lots of individual colors you can buy, or you can also buy more generic colors from Wilton. Both can be purchased on Amazon or in craft stores such as Michales or JoAnns.
Helpful Tools used to make this cupcake cake
- Angled spatula
- Size 1M piping tip
- Size 866 large French tip
- Size 21 piping tip
- Size 199 piping tip
- Large and small piping bags
- Americolor Leaf Green gel coloring
- Sweetapolita sprinkles to decorate
- Gold sprinkles for the star
While I tried to cover as much of the details as possible, there’s always times when questions comes up. Feel free to leave me a comment below so I can respond. I hope you’ll love making this festive Christmas cake as much I did!
More Christmas Desserts you might like:
- Christmas Cookie Dessert Charcuterie board
- Cutout Cookies
- Santa & Elves Donuts
- Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
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With this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll be making this Christmas Cake in no time. Bring this festive Christmas Tree Pull Apart Cupcake Cake to your next holiday party and just wait for the look on your friends faces when they see your creation!
For the frosting
- 1 1/2 cup (339 g) unsalted butter, cold
- 6 cups (780g) powdered sugar
- 2 ½ (12 ml) tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the decoration
- 1 ounce chocolate, melted
- Green gel food coloring
- Sprinkles and decorations
- Prepare a batch of at least 24 cupcakes and cool completely.
- For the frosting: Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally, beating until the butter is very fluffy.
- Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated into the butter then add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Beat for about 60 seconds.
- Next, add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.
- Add the last 1 cup powdered sugar along with the heavy whipping cream. Beat on low until the ingredients start to mix together. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting.
- For the chocolate frosting Separate out ¼ cup of the finished frosting. Set aside. Once ready to use, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring occasionally until completely smooth. Stir the melted chocolate into the small cup of frosting. Use immediately for the tree trunks, and then use a fork or toothpick to give them a rough look
- Separate out another ¼-½ cup of frosting if you’d like to have another color of frosting for your cake, such as the white for the star on top, the extra present cupcakes or if you’d like a two toned frosting (note you may want to set aside more than 1/2 a cup for this depending on your design intent)
- Dye the rest of your remaining frosting green, fill two large piping bags 2/3 full.
- Prepare a couple of piping bags: at least 1 or 2 small piping bags fitted with couplers and one small bag without a coupler for the larger piping tips so that you can easily switch them out.
- Set up your cupcakes in the shape of a tree. For all the cupcakes you’ll be frosting with green frosting, place a small dollop of frosting (appx 1 teaspoon) on each cupcake and spread evenly with an angled spatula.
- First use a 1M piping tip to make the large roses. You may want to come back in halfway through and add some smaller ones
- Then use a large French star tip (size 866) to make large dollops of frosting and large swirls.
- Finally, use the smaller piping tips, size 21 and and size 199 to fill in the gaps making rosettes.
- For the star on top, use your white frosting to frost the cupcake and dip in gold sprinkles.
- Decorate the tree with sprinkles.
- In order to be able to transfer this, you’ll need a board at least 16-inch by 18-inches. It’s hard to find a board of that size but you can make one using a thick piece (single or double layer) of cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil.
- For the green frosting, I used Leaf Green Americolor, a touch of yellow and a tiny touch of black to make it darker.
- The green frosting can soften as you use it due to handling, so I recommend preparing two bags of frosting in an effort to prevent this and also make it easier to use, then I used a separate bag fitted with just the piping tips. I drop the larger, filled bags in the smaller one. For more tips on using piping bags, see separate blog post
- Prepare the chocolate frosting once you’re ready to frost the trunks, the chocolate frosting turns more firm and “fudgier” when the chocolate was added. If it gets too firm, microwave for 3-5 seconds at a time until spreadable
- All products used and step by step photos shown in the blog post
- Category: Cupcakes
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
- Calories: 400
- Sugar: 46.9g
- Sodium: 118.6mg
- Fat: 17.9g
- Saturated Fat: 11.8g
- Carbohydrates: 58.3g
- Fiber: 0.4g
- Protein: 3.1g
Keywords: Cupcake Cake, Christmas Cake, Pull Apart Cupcake Cake