Mini trees Cupcakes

To make this recipe, I used a box mix (haven’t found a homemade recipe that tastes any better than the box, so why make it so hard) :).  Then I just put the batter into mini cupcake liners placed in a regular cupcake tin, so they probably expanded wider than a normal mini cupcake tin.  That wasn’t intentional, I just didn’t have the right tin.

To decorate mini trees, load frosting in a piping bag and use a star tip.  (Confession- I also didn’t have any piping bags on hand.  So I used a quart Ziploc back and poked a small hole in the corner for the tip to go through.  Worked just fine : ) )  Start on the outside “ring” of the cupcake and work your way in, layering higher until you’ve reached a tree shape.  The secret is in the consistency of your frosting.  Frosting from a can is not stiff enough to layer, so if you’ve attempted shaping with that type of icing before and it eventually “melted” into a pile, that’s why.  Then add sprinkles of your choice and be proud of your mini tree creation!

Decorator Frosting



  • ½ cup solid vegetable shortening (use original, not butter flavored or your icing will be discolored)
  • ½ cup soft butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon of clear vanilla extract (you can use regular vanilla, but your icing will be off-white instead of pure white)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk**



  1. Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Icing will appear dry at this point.
  4. Add milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until you reach the consistency desired (**may require more than two tablespoons).
  5. I like my frosting to be the consistency of softened cream cheese so it flows easily through the piping bag, but isn’t so stiff that your hand gets tired from decorating.

This frosting can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, longer in the freezer.  Rewhip before using. The recipe above works best for decorating and shaped icing.  For icing a cake add 3-4 tablespoons of light corn syrup to thin the frosting for icing a cake.  For a chocolate version of the this icing, follow the above guidelines and then add ¾ cup of cocoa and an additional 1-2 tablespoons of milk.

**Frosting color tip: Make your frosting at least 2 days prior to when you want to decorate.  (Since it can be safely stored for a couple weeks, you can work it in easier.)  For these mini trees I was looking for dark green.  Gel colors work the best as they combine with the oil in the frosting better than the water based kinds.  Mix in the recommended number of drops per box directions and place back in the refrigerator.  When you’re ready to decorate, place the frosting back in your mixer and add another shot of the same recommended amount of color.  Rewhip.  The frosting color will be MUCH darker- perfect for a pine tree look without the bitter taste which often comes from trying to incorporate a lot of color at one time.


from the Kitchen of Laura Cunningham