Cake Challenge: End of Fall Cupcakes

by Jennifer on November 9, 2012

in Cupcakes, Fall Desserts, Winter Desserts

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.

I made these cupcakes as part of a cake challenge with other awesome bloggers. I’m totally digging these fabulous creations! Please go and check them out! 


Leave a Comment

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen @ Trilogy Edibles November 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

These are super cute. Rowan thought they were pretty awesome too, high praise from a 4 year old :) I’m so glad we are partying together!


2 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 8:06 am

I’m always looking to break into the 2-5 year old demographic :) So glad they were a hit!


3 SweetThingsTO November 9, 2012 at 9:14 am

Love those chocolate trees – they are perfect! Great idea!


4 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thanks so much, Juanita! I was really pleased with how they came out – you literally cannot mess them up! :)


5 TRISHA November 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

I seriously thought this picture came from a MAGAZINE!!!!! You are completely now my hero. Your work is just perfection – it just looks so…..SHARP all the time. I aspire to that. I have always wanted to make a cupcake topper like this. Your tree has such character – it looks like it has age and wisdom. NEAT.
Glad to be included with amazing gals.


6 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Oh, Trish, you made my day! This is the sweetest comment ever :) Thank you, thank you!


7 Melissa {thebakedequation} November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

Love these! How you do transfers is just brilliant! Thank you so much for doing this with us Jennifer!


8 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 10:07 am

Aww, thanks so much, Melissa – for the comment and the invitation! It was so fun to see what everyone else made and I found several new blogs to follow! :)


9 Kathia November 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Your cupcakes turned out adorable. I love the trees, I have been meaning to do the transfers using chocolate but I never get to do it. It seems pretty easy right?
Thank you so much for being part of this project.


10 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

Thanks for inviting me, Kathia! I used cocoa candy melts and it was sooo easy – really! I was honestly surprised at how great the trees looked with very little effort :) The only tricky part is working a little quickly, since the candy melts will harden on you. It wouldn’t be a tragedy, you would just have to heat them up again, but I’m impatient and don’t like to stop in the middle of a project :)


11 Kathia November 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

ohh I can’t find you in Twitter. What is your @??


12 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

It’s noyomoco :) What’s yours, so I can follow you too?


13 Pamela Smerker November 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

These are absolutely adorable! Love how you created the trees, brilliant!


14 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:35 am

Thank so much, Pamela! I LOVED your petal cake, especially that beautiful swirly top! :)


15 Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies November 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

How cute! I love the fall leaves around the tree, too. We’re having our own crazy weather here in Utah… 65 yesterday, snowing today. It’s par for the course here.


16 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

Thank you, Jen! Gotta love that crazy weather :) Winters are pretty calm in Virginia, with very little snow (which makes me a sad panda). But, my parents just moved to an area in Maryland that gets snow every year, so I’m super excited to visit during the winter season! :)


17 Amy November 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

I’m just gonna say it. These are so God damned cute, I can’t stand it! What a fabulous idea!


18 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:41 am

Thank you, Amy! I’m quite amused that these cute, sweet cupcakes are on the same blog page as my candy apple razor blade cupcakes…two very different types of sweets! :)


19 Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings November 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

These are too cute!!!!!


20 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thanks, Elizabeth! Hope the fall travel season is treating you well! :)


21 Carrie's Creations November 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

These are stunning!! The bare trees are perfection, the little colorful leaves are so cute!! Such a cute idea. :)


22 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thank you, thank you, Carrie! I was really happy with how they came out :)


23 Mike @ Semi Sweet November 9, 2012 at 11:34 am

Awesome cupcakes!! LOVE THESE!! They look so fantastic and yummy! Well done, Jennifer.

All the trees in Seattle look like this now… bare branches with tons of leaves on the ground. I can’t believe Fall is ending and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Time needs to slow down.


24 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

Thanks, Mike! They are a little more cute than my usual fare, but I kind of love them :)

We still have leaves for now, but holy cow, it feels so cold! Maybe I’m just not used to it yet!


25 Sue {munchkin munchies} November 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Jennifer, Your cupcakes are perfectly stunning! I love the stark, dark trees with the bright fall leaves! It really captures the feeling of fall, my favorite season:)


26 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Thank you so much, Sue! Your cocoa mug cake is beyond adorable (and totally fall-related – cocoa should be enjoyed all the time…candy canes too!) I love it :)


27 Patricia @ ButterYum November 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Your cupcakes are wonderful – the trees and leaves totally make them! I did that chocolate technique for shamrocks one time, but they didn’t look anywhere near as nice as your trees do. I’m in Virginia too and I’d say our area had a stunning fall – lots of color that lasted for a long time. It’s a big state, but it’s funny how different it can be from one town to another. It’ nice to meet you and I have fun participating in this challenge with you. Take care, Patricia


28 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Thanks so much, Patricia! It is so great to meet another VA blogger. I’m in Hampton Roads and we have some pretty trees, but nothing like the Western part of the state – so gorgeous! :)


29 Patricia @ ButterYum November 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm

And I’m in the northwestern part of the state. All of VA is beautiful – we love living here.


30 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

So true!


31 Debbie November 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Very cute! Love the trees and the colorful leaves. An idea to help the tree stick into the cupcake… When piping the tree try adding a couple strong prongs downward that can stick into the cupcake. No toothpick to watch for and better yet, you can eat it.

Also another tip, but I haven’t tried it. At my local cake store they’ve been doing candy demos. She made a huge chocolate tree that stood up next to a candy house. She had added corn syrup to the chocolate, trickling it in a little at a time with a squeeze bottle. As she mixed in the syrup it thickened the chocolate without setting it. What was cool was that it made it easier to pipe, similar to frosting thickness. I think she used a #18 tip to give it a rough bark look. For cupcakes a smaller tip would probably be better.


32 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Hi Debbie! Thanks for the tip – my chocolate trees weren’t quite sturdy enough to push into the cake, so toothpicks worked for me in this case! :)

I’ve never heard about adding corn syrup to candy melts – I’ll definitely be trying that in the future! Thanks!


33 Hani November 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I love your tree cupcakes, they are wonderful.
Such wonderful collection of Fall inspired treats.


34 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thank you, Hani – I’m so glad you like them :)


35 Sarah November 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Would you mind sharing where you found the tree template? I would love to make these for our family dinner. Thanks so much!


36 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Hi Sarah! I did a Google image search for “bare tree,” I think…let me see if I can find it again :)

Here it is! It looks like it is actually the shape of a paper punch: I had to make it much bigger, but as you can see, it turned out fine :)


37 Sarah November 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Thanks so much!


38 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

No problem!


39 Chineka November 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Theses are so cute and I love how you piped modeling chocolate to make the tree. What a great technique you used.

Chineka – Savor the Baking


40 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Thanks so much, Chineka!


41 Karma November 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Ooohhh what a nice cupcakes! And thanks for the idea! Nice chocolate
Tree toppers! Nice to meet you!


42 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

So glad you like them! :)


43 Kara@butterheartssugar November 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Wow these look amazing! I love the bright colours and the tree transfers are so so clever. Its been fun partying with you.


44 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Thanks so much, Kara!


45 Karly November 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Seriously. My most favorite cupcakes ever. So pretty!


46 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

What!? No way – really? I’m sooo glad you like them, Karly! You made my day :)


47 Karly November 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

Oh my gosh, yes way. The colors are just perfection. :)


48 Michelle @ MakeMeCake.Me November 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

These are really great cupcakes Jennifer and they look super do-able! Love the colors and the beautiful eye-catching tree!!


49 Jennifer November 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Thanks so much, Michelle! They really are so easy – I was honestly surprised at how nice they turned out! Sometimes an idea in my head doesn’t quite turn out as I had hoped ;)


50 The Partiologist November 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Oh my goodness, these are soo cute – the trees look fantastic and I love the 3-D effect! Terrific!!


51 Jennifer November 10, 2012 at 7:30 am

Thanks so much, Kim!


52 November 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

I love your pictures and I would love for you to join and share your pictures with us at


53 Melissa {Simply Sweets by Honeybee} November 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Sorry I’m so late leaving a comment. Time has escaped me. I love your trees! They are perfect. You are one of my favorite bloggers!


54 Jennifer November 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Aww – you are too sweet, Melissa!! Thank you so much for the awesome comment :)


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