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Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes

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Brighten up your holiday table with these easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes made with a fluffy chocolate cupcake and vanilla buttercream. Kids will love decorating these!

This post is sponsored by Walkers Shortbread. All opinions are my own.

A chocolate cupcake decorated with green frosting, sprinkles and a star cookie top

Easy Christmas Cupcakes

I love showing up to a party with dessert, and let me tell you, your friends and family will be so impressed when you show up with these Christmas Tree Cupcakes. I’ll let you in on a secret, these are actually really easy to make! 

It starts with a chocolate cupcake; I used my favorite recipe, but you could certainly use a cake mix if you wanted to. Then I made a batch of my easy vanilla buttercream and dyed it green. Decorating these isn’t hard at all when you have Walkers Shortbread Mini Stars and sprinkles. Aren’t these so cute?

One of my favorite holiday hacks is grabbing something from the  Walkers Holiday Collection (you can also find it on Amazon, Target, CVS and Walgreens). Not only do these shortbread cookies make great gifts and stocking stuffers, but they are also the perfect size for decorating cupcakes or adding to your cookie platters. This year I chose the Mini Festive Stars and last year I used the Gingerbread Men Shortbread to make these gingerbread cupcakes.

A bags of Walkers Shortbread stars, opened and poured out onto the table

Walkers Shortbread is made with the finest ingredients (sourced locally in Scotland) and they’re still made using the original recipe. You’ll never find genetically modified ingredients, preservatives or artificial color or flavors in these shortbread cookies.

Ingredients and Tools

overhead view of of tools and ingredients for Christmas Tree cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

  • Granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Large eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Sour cream– this can be substituted with plain or Greek yogurt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cocoa powder– I love Hershey’s special dark for these cupcakes but any natural cocoa powder will work 
  • Baking powder & baking soda
  • Salt
  • Brewed coffee- you can substitute this with milk

For the Frosting

  • Unsalted butter– this should be cold, straight from the refrigerator
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Heavy whipping cream (or milk)
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Leaf Green gel coloring

To Decorate

  • Walkers Shortbread Mini Festive Stars
  • Sprinkles
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Large piping bag
  • Ateco 846 piping tip
A Christmas tree cupcake, unwrapped with a bite removed

How to Make Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes

This is my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe topped with vanilla buttercream. This recipe comes together rather quickly, so it’s a great option for the holidays when it’s already busy. 

Make the Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven & prepare the pan 
  • Combine wet ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Then add the sour cream and mix until combined.
  • Alternate adding the dry ingredients and coffee: In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and sift together. Then alternate adding half the dry ingredients with half of the coffee at a time mixing just until the flour starts to incorporate. Finish mixing by hand with a spatula and be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. 
  • Fill the pan: For evenly baked cupcakes, using a large cookie scoop, filling each liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake and Frost

Make the Frosting

This recipe starts with cold butter, straight from the refrigerator. Cutting the butter into cubes will help the mixer to break it down easier. 

Whip the butter: Once it is cut up, whip for several minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. The butter should be light, fluffy and whipped. 

Add the powdered sugar & liquid ingredients. Usually, each time I add powdered sugar, I also add some of the liquid to help keep the consistency. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time and mix on low speed until incorporated. Then increase the speed to medium-high for a minute or two before adding additional powdered sugar. 

Add the coloring: After all your ingredients have been added, add the gel color, beat the frosting for an additional minute or two to get that final light and fluffy texture. 

Decorate

Fill a piping bag: Fit a large piping bag with a piping tip size 846 open star tip, and fill the bag 2/3 full of frosting. 

Frost the cupcakes: Pipe a small dollop of frosting in the middle of the cupcake, and then starting in the back, start piping from the outside edge, working your way up to the center at the top. 

Add decorations: Top with a Walkers Shortbread Mini Festive Star and garnish with sprinkles. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

My Best Tips for Coloring Frosting

For the best green color: I recommend using gel colors (Americolor, Chef Master or Wilton). I use a leaf green color, which is nice and bright, but then I add just a touch of black to deepen it. Use a toothpick when adding the black, because if you add too much the frosting will get too dark. 

Don’t use food coloring: Traditional food coloring is thin and watery. It takes a lot of food coloring to achieve the right color, and this will make your frosting too thin.

Can I Prepare These Ahead of Time?

The holidays can be a very busy time. Here are a few ways you can help alleviate the stress by preparing these in advance. 

Cupcakes: These can be made up to two days in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. An airtight container will lock in the moisture and prevent them from drying out. 

Frosting: The frosting can be made up to 7 days in advance. If you plan to use the frosting within 24 hours, then it can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Allow the frosting to come to room temperature prior to using. 

Whether you are storing the frosting overnight or for a few days, you’ll want to re-whip the frosting in the mixer prior to using it. 

Storing Finished Cupcakes

These can be made up to two days in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. If you are making them ahead of time, I recommend adding the Walkers Shortbread Mini Stars the day you are serving in order to maintain the freshness and crispness of the cookie. 

Can I Freeze These?

It’s not my preference, but frosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 30 days in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then transfer to the counter to serve at room temperature. Add sprinkles and decorations once the frosting has reached room temperature. 

Unwrapped Chocolate Cupcake with Green frosting decorated to look like a Christmas tree
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A close up of a chocolate cupcake decorated to look like a Christmas tree

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Description

Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes made with a fluffy chocolate cupcake and vanilla buttercream.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) sour cream
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cup (355 ml) brewed coffee

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, cold.
  • 7 cups (911 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  •  2-3 tablespoons (30ml) heavy whipping cream (or milk)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Gel colors for dying frosting
  • 1 bag Walkers Shortbread Mini Festive Stars
  • Sprinkles
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color.
  3. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Then add half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed while pouring in the remaining coffee and beating until all of the ingredients are well combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

For the Frosting

  1. Cut butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter looks light in color.
  2. Alternate adding 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Ensure the powdered sugar is well combined, then whip for 1-2 minutes before adding more powdered sugar. Repeat until all ingredients are added.
  3. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting. Add a couple of drops of gel colors and beat into the frosting

To Decorate

  1. Fit a large piping bag with a piping tip size 846 open star tip, and fill the bag 2/3 full of frosting. 
  2. Pipe a small dollop of frosting in the middle of the cupcake, and then starting in the back, tart piping from the outside edge, working your way up to the center at the top.
  3. Top with a Walkers Shortbread Mini Festive Star and garnish with sprinkles. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Nutrition Information:
1 Cupcake
425
47 g
141.1 mg
21.8 g
57.5 g
0.8 g
2.6 g
67 mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Easy Christmas Dessert, Chocolate Cupcakes, Christmas Cupcakes

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