Since 2 years, a friend and I organise a x-mas baking competition for the R&D department at work. If one signed up, one had to bring 20 little cookies or muffins and could try sweet creations every day for 20 days during x-mas time. It is always a great success and everyone loves it. Since the organisers are excluded from winning, I could not win anything with my creations, but I got a lot of positive feedback! So I decided to show my x-mas trees here, maybe I have a chance to win something in the sweet tooth contest instead :). Hope you like it!
-----------If you like my Instructable, please vote for me in the sweet tooth contest, thank you!------------
Step 1: What You Need...
The muffin consists basically of two parts:
- The pot with the chocolate muffin soil
- The lemon cookie x-mas tree with sugar decorations
For this muffin-cookie art piece you will need a lot of time (approx. 5-8 hours, depending on how many baking trays and ovens you have access to). Apart from time you also need some tools and many different ingredients:
Tools / Non Food:
- Tiny terracotta pots (approx. 4 cm / 1.5 inch diameter)
- Strong scissors
- Tree shaped cookie cutter
- Mini baking case
For the "Soil" (for approx. 20 Chocolate Muffins):
- 300g all purpose flour
- 80g cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder (or 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. baking soda)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 250g white sugar
- 100g melted butter
- 200 ml milk
- 50g "quark" (similar to cream cheese, but less fat, and much more sour taste, if you can't get that, replace the milk with 250ml buttermilk)
- 2 large eggs
- 150g dark (swiss) chocolate (70-80%), chopped
For the "Tree" (for approx. 60-80 Lemon Cookies):
- 200g all purpose flour
- 120g white sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- pinch of salt
- 1 organic lemon (grinded peel)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 100g melted butter
- 50g plain yoghurt
- 20g "quark" (same as above, leave it out, in case you can't find it)
- green food dye (a lot!)
For the Decoration on the Trees:
- Colorful Sprinkles (I took gold and silver, which looks quite festive I think)
- 70g powdered sugar (icing)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice (icing)
- a few droplets green food dye (icing)
- 20g "quark" (icing)
20g plain yoghurt (icing)
Step 2: The Soil for the Tree
As for any tree planting, the preparation of the soil is essential. Therefore, make sure the soil for your tree is optimally adjusted for the needs of a decorated x-mas tree.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (392 F)
- Prepare the terracotta pots with muffin cases
- Chop the chocolate coarsely (a bit finer than on the picture above)
- Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in one bowl and set aside.
- Then, mix sugar, butter, milk, quark and eggs in another (large) bowl.
- Now add dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
- Add chocolate pieces and stir in.
- Fill the chocolate mass into the muffin cases (it's quite sticky, I took a tea spoon to fill them)
- Bake for 12 minutes (test if cake tester comes out clean)
- Set the pots aside and let them cool down.
Step 3: Prepare the Tree Choppers
To chop the best trees in the forest, you need the best tools. Since I was not sure what tree size would look best, I took two sizes of cookie cutters. In order to get the tree trunk as long as possible, I opened the the cookie cutters at the end with scissors and bent the edges downwards. This way, your tree can easily root in its new pot.
Step 4: The Trees
- Mix butter, sugar, salt, lemon juice, yoghurt and quark
- Now add flour and almonds and green food dye (as much as you like, until you think the colour is perfect)
- Knead dough until its smooth
- Form a sphere out of it and let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- ... wait...
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320 F)
- Roll out cold dough to 0.5 cm (0.2 inch) (it's best to roll it out between two cellophane foils, so the dough does not stick to the rolling pin.
- Cut trees and extent trunk so it can be easily planted into the soil. If your cutting takes a bit longer, it's best to take only half or even less of the dough out of the fridge at once. This is helpful because it becomes more difficult to cut the trees when the dough is warmer.
- Put trees on a baking tray (I filled 3 trays) and bake for 10-15 minutes.
- Let the trees cool down (in the mean time you can make the icing for the trees, see next step).
Step 5: Prepare the Icing and Decorate the Trees
- Mix powdered sugar with 20g Yoghurt and 20g quark
- Add lemon juice
- Add a few drops of green food dye
- Depending on the thickness of the icing, add water or powdered sugar until its perfect.
- Take a baking brush and spread the icing on one side of the trees
- Sprinkle the gold and silver x-mas balls over the trees
- Let dry for about 1-2 hours
- ... wait...
- spread icing onto the other side of the trees
Sprinkle the gold and silver x-mas balls over the other side of the trees
Step 6: Plant Tree Into Soil
Once you're done with all of the cookie and muffin baking and decorating, you can finally assemble the artwork.
For this, it's easiest, if you cut a little hole into the soil, so you don't need too much force to put the treeing it. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of that. However, it's very simple, just take a knife and cut a rectangular hole into the chocolate soil.
Once the trees were all planted, I spread a little more of the icing onto the edges of the trees, so I could also put a few x-mas balls there.
Shortly before serving, I added a little powdered sugar over all the trees, so it looks as if it just started to snow.
I hope you like the x-mas trees! If you like, I would be more than happy if you voted for my instructable in the sweet tooth contest!