Heather McKinley of Mechanic Falls, Maine shared this minty twist on typical cupcakes, then our Test Kitchen arranged them in a tree shape for a pretty presentation. The star on the top of the tree and cute packages tucked beneath are a snap to make with colorful candies.
- 1 package devil's food cake mix (regular size)
- 1-1/2 cups mint chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2-2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 4 to 5 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 teaspoon baking cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon green paste food coloring
- Candy-coated milk chocolate miniature kisses
- 2 chocolate stars
- 12 Starburst candies
- Prepare cake batter mix according to package directions for cupcakes; fold in chips. Fill foil-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
- Bake at 350° for 18-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
- For frosting, in a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and extracts until blended. Transfer 2 tablespoons to a small bowl; stir in cocoa. Stir green food coloring into remaining frosting.
- Frost 21 cupcakes with green frosting; arrange in a pyramid to form a tree. Decorate all but the top cupcake with miniature kisses for lights. Frost two cupcakes with chocolate frosting and place at base of tree for trunk; top each with a chocolate star. Save remaining cupcake for another use.
- With a rolling pin, roll two yellow Starburst candies flat; cut with 2-in. and 1-1/2-in. star-shaped cookie cutters. Press smaller star onto larger star; place on cupcake at top of tree.
- For presents, roll five Starburst candies into 3-in. x 3/4-in. rectangles; cut each rectangle into four 3-in.-long strips. Place two strips widthwise on one whole Starburst candy; press together at base to attach.
- For bow, form two strips into figure eights; press together in center and press onto wrapped candy. Repeat with remaining strips and remaining four whole Starburst candies. Place presents beneath cupcake tree. Yield: 23 servings.
Originally published as Cupcake Christmas Tree in Simple & Delicious November/December 2006, p52
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