I have wanted to make these for a while now. Ever since I saw the brightly coloured chocolate drops in the shops a few months back, I knew they would be perfect as christmas lights in these tree cupcakes.
The cupcakes themselves are inspired by a chocolate which I ate at the BBC Good Food Show a couple of months back. The chocolate was flavoured with Scot’s Pine and I thought it was delicious and I thought making chocolate and pine flavour cupcakes would be inventive (pine trees after all), delicious and a doddle.
But there was a snag, nowhere could I get pine flavoured extract for baking with. What to do? Then I discovered pine essential oil in a local health food shop. But it had a huge disclaimer on it saying not to be taken internally.
Did this deter me? Nah! I researched more and found that pinus sylvestris oil as its proper name is, is approved in food. It also states it is not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful. Read more here. But as other sites say it can be an irritant – so I am not recommending you use pine essential oil in these cupcakes.
But as I say, I did, and I was fine. I added only 4 small drops to the mix and it gave a delicate piny flavour that complimented these egg-less chocolate cupcakes well.
The tree part is my marshmallow fluffy frosting dyed with some green food colouring. I piped this on as high as it would go to the cupcakes. I then fridges them to make the mallow a bit firmer, before dotting the chocolate drops into the ‘foliage’! I did make some stars for the tops out of white chocolate, but they were a bit pants as you can see. or you could say they have a child-like simplicity to them! Whatever, I'm sure you could do better than me. Or just buy some edible stars.
125 ml vegetable oil
225 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
35 grams cocoa powder
250 ml milk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon vinegar
Adapted from Cooks.com
Green Food Dye
Coloured Chocolate drops
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake tray. Sift together the flour and bicarb and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the oil, sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder until smooth. Add one third of the flour then mix, one half the milk then mix, repeat with the flour, milk then end with the last third of flour. Lastly add the vinegar and stir through.
Divide the batter between the twelve cases and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. Allow to cool completely.
Make the marshmallow frosting as directed and add green food colouring, as much as you dare. Level the cupcakes by cutting the top off each one until flatter. Then in a piping bag, fitted with a star tip, swirl on the green frosting as high as you can.
Place the cupcakes into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. This lets the marshmallow set. Remove from the fridge and add the chocolate drops as lights and a star on top.
The cupcakes are very chocolaty and even without the egg hold well together. The marshmallow frosting is a nice contrast and fun to eat your way through! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I am not recommending the use of pine (pinus sylvestris) essential oil in these. However if you do, substitute the vanilla extract for only 3 to 4 small drops of the pine oil.
I am entering these into this month’s Alphabakes hosted alternately by Caroline at Caroline Makes and this month by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker. This month’s letter is spookily X! So Xmas trees are perfect!