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Christmas Tree Cupcakes


Serve this snowy dessert this holiday season. Cupcakes are shaped like trees, covered with snowy frosting, and sprinkled with sanding sugar. Save some sugar to create beds of "snow" for serving. If you like, you can also make mini gingerbread stars to decorate the tops of the trees.

  • Yield: Makes 1 dozen

Photography: Mike Krautter

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2007


  • 12 sugar cones (2 to 2 1/2 inches wide and 4 to 5 inches long)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Frosting for Christmas Tree Cupcakes
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Invert two 9 1/2-by-3-inch disposable round foil baking pans. Using a craft knife or a paring knife, cut six X shapes in bottom of each, spacing them evenly, to make 1 1/2-inch openings. Fit a waffle cone snugly into each opening, standing the cones upright. Line each cone with parchment paper, and then place a dried bean or a hazelnut in bottom to prevent batter from leaking. Place pans and cones on parchment-lined baking sheets. Line a 12-cup mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

  2. Whisk together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl. With a mixer on low speed, gradually add egg mixture to flour mixture, beating until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and beat for 3 minutes. Carefully pour batter into cones, filling each two-thirds full. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup (these will be the tree bases).

  3. Bake until a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes for cupcakes and 35 minutes for cones. Let cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from cones and parchment. Let cool completely on the rack.

  4. If necessary, use a serrated knife to trim top of each cupcake to create a flat surface. Place a dab of frosting on top of each cupcake, and position a cone cake on top. Place frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip (such as Ateco #19) and pipe frosting decoratively all over tree. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Top each tree with a mini gingerbread star, if desired. Trees can be refrigerated, uncovered, for up to 6 hours before serving.

Cook's Notes

There will be leftover batter. To bake, line standard muffin tins with paper liners and bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes, until a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days before assembling.

Reviews Add a comment

  • coetzeedane7gm
    11 DEC, 2015
    This is so cute!! Just want to know if I could use plain wafer cones instead of the sugar cones?
  • SarahAlberts
    24 DEC, 2008
    no the frosting means teaspoons. If it is runny then add more sugar. Remember you can always add but you cant take away.
  • SarahAlberts
    24 DEC, 2008
    no the frosting means teaspoons. If it is runny then add more sugar. Remember you can always add but you cant take away.
  • crazysham
    15 DEC, 2008
    That frosting recipe has to mean CUPS of icing sugar not TEASPOONS?? Otherwise it would be way too runny, no?
  • Rorie_D_Lion
    1 OCT, 2008
    One "tree" CAN be a big portion for one person to be able to eat. Make the cupcakes as normal (even a box mix kind works), place the EMPTY cone on top, and then decorate that. SO many people are watching what they eat. This takes off several calories and suger to help maintain a healthy diet =] I LUV sugar cones! =D
  • imwithdino
    3 SEP, 2008
    I made these last Christmas - except they didn't look quite like the picture! It was difficult to keep them standing upright in the oven on the inverted foil pan. And the frosting recipe produced a very soft frosting, so it was really difficult to pipe pretty stars. It got pretty messy! It's SUCH a cute idea, though, and I resolve to try again this year!
  • marybeth0506
    12 DEC, 2007
  • Aashley1018
    11 DEC, 2007
    i went to a nearby homegoods store and bought a cupcake carrying case consists of a cupcake pan and a lid that attaches by snapping onto the sides of the pan but the lid is tall and leaves enough room for the trees to stand in the pan without being damaged. im pretty sure i also saw the same type of thing at a michaels craft store. hope this helps!
  • marybeth0506
    10 DEC, 2007
    I am wanting to make these for a small family christmas party. Any suggestions on what I could carry them in without messing up the frosting?