December is a wonderful month for baking. It is a month of indulgence with Christmas baking at the heart of celebration. I love looking at the Christmas editions of cooking magazines. The Christmas Day menus, recipes for leftovers, and of course, all the Christmas cookies and other yummy baking recipes.
This recipe is actually not originally a Christmas recipe. It’s my favourite carrot cake recipe, Canada’s Best Carrot Cake, which Canadian Living published years ago. However, it has stood the test of time and it still is the best carrot cake recipe ever. The secret ingredient is the pineapple, which adds that extra moistness and makes it incredibly delicious. I have converted the recipe to grams, because that’s how I prefer to bake now. Click on the link to the original recipe for the amounts in cups.
I got the idea for the cupcakes when I saw a photo online after googling ‘festive sprinkles’. The original photo used sprinkles for the snow and had coloured sprinkles for the Christmas lights. I decided to use desiccated coconut for my snow and have my trees be dusted with snow instead of decorated with lights.
Decorating them was surprisingly easy and I really like how they turned out. The only specialised bit of kit that you need is a piping bag with a large star tip (e.g. a Wilton 1M or 2D). I always vary the amounts of spice I use in my carrot cake. Sometimes I leave out the ginger, other times I add a bit extra nutmeg. Cinnamon should be the predominant spice with at least 2 full teaspoons. The rest is can be adjusted slightly depending on your tastes.
See below for lots of photos demonstrating how to make these deceptively easy but gorgeous Christmas treats. Any cupcake recipe will do, but carrot cake is one of my favourites.
Snowy Tree Cupcakes
Makes 20 cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 250g plain/all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb of soda (baking soda)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 3 large eggs
- 150g white sugar
- 150g brown sugar
- 175ml vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 500ml grated carrots (approx 4 large carrots)
- 1 small tin of crushed pineapple, drained
- 50g pecans, toasted and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Place 20 cupcake liners into a muffin tray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the two sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla using a wire whisk until smooth.
- Make a well in the centre of the flower mixture. Pour in the sugar/egg mixture and gently fold in until just moistened. Just as with muffins, this process should take between 15-20 “strokes” with the spatula. Stir in the carrots, pineapples and nuts. Divide between the 20 cupcake liners. The cupcake liners should be just over 3/4 full.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Set the timer for 5 minutes before the time and keep a close eye on them! Let the cupcakes cool in the muffin tin for about 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Icing
Makes enough to ice 20 cupcakes
- 150g full fat cream cheese, room temp
- 150g unsalted butter, room temp
- 600g icing sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- (1-2 tsp milk)
- approx 150g desiccated coconut (I didn’t really measure how much I used… just pour some into a bowl!)
- star sprinkles
- green gel food colour
- Sift the icing sugar into a medium sized bowl.
- Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract with an electric whisk on high speed until light and fluffy and the cream cheese and butter is smooth and well combined, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Gradually add in the icing sugar, starting off on low speed. If you beat it too quickly, a messy cloud will cover everything in your kitchen in a fine layer of icing sugar.
- Once all the icing sugar is incorporated, beat on high for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy. If it is too stiff, then add the milk 1 tsp at a time. The icing should be easily spreadable but able to hold it’s shape so that you’ll be able to pipe the trees.
- Divide the icing into two bowls. Leave half the icing white and colour the other half with green gel food colouring.
- 1 large disposable piping bag
- 1 large star piping tip e.g. 1M Wilton
- desiccated coconut
- Star sprinkles
- 20 cupcakes
- 1 bowl of green icing
- 1 bowl of white icing
- offset spatula (or butter knife)
- Spread a heaping tablespoon of icing on each cupcake using the offset spatula (or butter knife).
- Dip the top of the cupcake into the bowl of coconut and until well coated. Repeat for all 20 cupcakes.
- Cut the tip off of the piping bag and fit the large star tip inside. Place the piping bag in a pint class and fold the tops of the bag over the sides. Fill with the green icing.
- Pipe small swirls of green icing in the centre of each cupcake.
- Sprinkle with coconut or with festive sprinkles. I would recommend putting a baking sheet underneath the cupcakes – I didn’t do this and it was quite messy as the coconut fell through the wire rack onto the counter.
- Carefully place a star onto the top of each tree.
- Admire your lovely handiwork!