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Make Chef Duff Goldman’s Cupcake Christmas Tree Recipe

Try this delicious dessert from his cookbook Super Good Baking for Kids!
Posted on Dec 14, 2020 | 11:00am
Chef Duff Goldman visited The Talk to share his festive recipe for a Cupcake Christmas Tree.

Find the recipe and more in his new cookbook Super Good Baking For Kids, now available.

Makes: One 2-foot tree with 24 mini cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 45 minutes for constructing the tree
Baking Time: 12 to 15 minutes

Sometimes you just don't know what to do with a bunch of cupcakes. You stick 'em on a platter; people eat them; you wash the platter. I like the cupcake Christmas tree for serving because it's fun to build, but it's even more fun to take apart.


2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup (59 grams) hot brewed coffee
1/4 cup (46 grams) lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (23 grams) cocoa powder
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup (54 grams) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (60 grams) buttermilk
1 teaspoon (5 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (75 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks or 339 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (14 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt
4 cups (500 grams) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon (14 grams) whole milk, plus more as needed
Food coloring (optional)

Nonpareils or sprinkle
Peppermint candies
Anything else you want

24 mini-cupcake liners (pick something cool, like shiny ones!)
Mini-cupcake pan
Large bowl
Small muffin scoop
Wire rack
Stand mixer
Rubber spatula
Small bowls
Piping bags
Various piping tips

2-foot Styrofoam cone wrapped in plastic (with at least a 4-inch-wide base)
Wrapping paper of your choice
Transparent wrapping tape
24 or more 4-inch double-sided toothpicks

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2) Line a 24-cup mini-cupcake pan with liners.

3) In a large bowl, carefully combine the chocolate chips and hot coffee.

4) Let the chocolate melt, then stir in the brown sugar and cocoa powder.

5) Then whisk in the egg, egg yolk, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.

6) Next whisk in the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and baking powder.

7) Using a small muffin scoop, scoop the batter into all the mini-cupcake liners till 2/3 full.

Duff's Tip: To me, it's easier if you fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe the cups slowly.

8) Bake the cupcakes for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.

9) Carefully remove the pan from the oven and let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, turn them out of the pan, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

10) In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment at medium speed, beat the butter, vanilla, and salt until it is light and fluffy.

11) On low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar. After all the powdered sugar has been added, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time till the buttercream reaches a pipeable consistency.

12) Mix on medium-high for a few seconds. At this point, if you want to make different colors of buttercream, separate the buttercream into small bowls and add the food coloring you want.

13) Using a rubber spatula, put your buttercream in a few different pastry bags, depending on how many different colors you have, fitted with different tips.

14) Pipe frosting onto each cupcake in a fun pattern.

15) Decorate each cupcake with the candies and sprinkles you chose.
Note: Remember, one of these cupcakes will be the one on top of your cupcake Christmas tree - so plan ahead!

16) Use a glue gun (following the safety tips below) to affix the wrapping paper of your choice to the Styrofoam cone (don't remove the cone's plastic wrapping).

17) Stick 24 toothpicks about 1 inch into the foam in a random order but with enough space between them for all the cupcakes to fit. (Make sure to put one on top!)

18) Pipe on a buttercream garland to decorate the tree. And finally, stick on all the cupcakes! A delicious Christmas tree!

19) And don't forget to finish by adding your "star" - a final cupcake on the top!

DO: Make sure you always have an adult around before you use hot glue.
DO: Allow your gun to warm up before you try to use it.
DO: Put a glue stick into the gun before you turn it on.
DO: Use the stand for the gun.
DON'T: Let glue touch anything you want people to eat.
DON'T: Plug in the gun and then get your paper ready. Do your mise en place first.
DON'T: Lay it on its side. Use the stand.
DON'T: Touch the tip of the glue gun. It's hot and hot glue is super sticky, like lava.