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Owl Tree

 Owl Tree
I have been “cooking” since I was 3 years old. Now I cook for my two teenage sons and bake decorated cakes for family and friends. I came up with this for an online contest. It was a hoot! —Tammy Baker, Bowling Green, Kentucky
24 ServingsPrep: 1 hour Bake: 20 min. + cooling

Ingredients

  • 1 package chocolate fudge cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • FROSTING AND DECORATIONS:
  • 1 can (16 ounces) chocolate frosting, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black paste food coloring
  • 12 mini Oreo cookies
  • Brown and yellow milk chocolate M&M's
  • 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line 21 muffin cups and 6 mini-muffin cups
  • with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil, coffee and eggs; beat
  • on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate
  • chips. Fill prepared cups two-thirds full. Bake 18-22 minutes for
  • regular-sized cupcakes and 10-12 minutes for mini-cupcakes or until
  • a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10
  • minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

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Owl Tree (continued)

Directions (continued)

  • Place 1-1/3 cups chocolate frosting in a small bowl. Tint black with
  • food coloring. Cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag or in a
  • corner of a food-safe plastic bag; insert #125 or other large petal
  • or flat pastry tip. Fill bag with black frosting and set aside.
  • Frost mini cupcakes with some of the remaining chocolate frosting.
  • Separate Oreo cookies, leaving cream filling on one side of the
  • cookies. Place filling sides of cookies on frosted cupcakes for
  • eyes, cream side up; attach brown M&M's with chocolate frosting.
  • Trim plain cookies into triangles for ears; place above eyes. Insert
  • #16 or other star pastry tip into another pastry bag. Fill bag with
  • remaining chocolate frosting. Pipe feathers on ears and around eyes.
  • Place yellow M&M's between eyes for beaks.
  • In a large bowl, beat confectioners' sugar, butter, shortening and
  • enough water to reach spreading consistency; frost large cupcakes.
  • Arrange cupcakes side by side on a covered cake board.
  • Pipe black frosting across tops of cupcakes for tree trunk and
  • branches. Place owl cupcakes on branches. Yield: 21 cupcakes and 6
  • mini cupcakes.
Nutritional Facts: 1 cupcake or 2 mini cupcakes equals 389 calories, 21 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 36 mg cholesterol, 261 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein.