We skipped fall in Virginia.
I think Mother Nature has just decided to mess with us – we went from balmy temperatures to awfully chilly mornings in the span of a week, it seems. Add a dash of the Hurricane Sandy fake-out (we were lucky enough to avoid any real impact) and it has been a cray cray season. Never mind the hurricane AND earthquake we had last year. Oh, and a swamp fire for good measure.
Point is – I’m looking forward to a mild and uneventful Virginia summer. It won’t be long before the trees go from beautiful, lush, watercolor masterpieces…to this:
Time to break out the rake!
End of Fall Cupcakes
- 18.25 oz. box of chocolate cake mix
- 1 15 oz. canned pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 16 oz. containers of white or off-white frosting (or make you own!)
- Red, brown, yellow, and green food coloring
- Brown candy melts
- Shortening, for greasing
- Pastry bag, coupler, and a #66 tip
1. Using clip-art I found online, I made the trees first. Print out a piece of paper with several different copies of the same picture. Slip the paper into a sheet protector and wipe it with shortening. Like this:
My trees were pretty big; if you make them smaller, you can definitely fit more onto one sheet of paper.
2. Melt some brown candy melts according to the directions on the package. Place chocolate into a disposable pastry bag and snip off the tip. All you have to do is pipe the candy using the picture as your guide.
Don’t worry about making it smooth – the grooves and bumps make it look more like a tree! You should try to do this step rather quickly, as the candy melts will eventually harden again.
3. Mix the cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, and spices together in a large bowl. Beat with a handheld mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Bake according to the directions for the cake mix. Allow to cool.
4. Tint 16 ounces of frosting leaf green. Frost the cupcakes with green icing – no worries if it isn’t perfect!
Add a tree to the top of each cupcake, pressing down gently.
Use a knife to cover the bottom of the tree with the green icing. If your tree seems a bit unstable, use a toothpick for support, pushing it into the cupcake behind the tree. Just make sure you warn any unsuspecting cupcake eaters!
5. Tint the rest of the icing equal parts red, brown/copper, and yellow. Put your first color into a pastry bag fitted with a #66 tip (small leaf tip). I started with red. Before piping, I put the pastry bag in the fridge for about 5 minutes. This helped the leaves keep their shape.
6. Pipe leaves all around the cupcake, leaving space to add additional colored leaves.
Making leaves is easy – simply apply pressure on the pastry bag, then gently pull away to achieve the leaf “tip.”
7. Repeat with all remaining leaf colors until desired look is achieved.