These mini cupcakes were so fun to make! The idea came from a blog that made them as regular sized cupcakes, then decorated them. I changed them to minis and made them with a carrot cake box mix. I topped them with my own cream cheese frosting and we decorated them. I’d already made so many chocolate treats for the holidays I wanted new flavors. We were more than pleased with the results!
I was baking with my cousin Shirley last week. I’d told her about these cute cupcakes that looked like they had strings of Christmas lights on them. By the time we got to the point of adding the m & ms for the lights, she was laughing. “They’re so cute!” Shirley said over and over. I think the cupcakes were the most fun thing we made this year!
The recipe had used a chocolate cake mix. We’d made way too many chocolate cookies and bars and candies already, so settled on a carrot cake. I mixed the cake mix according to directions then found small paper cups that had holiday themes. I placed them in the mini cupcake pans and scooped the cake batter into the cups. I left about 1/2″ of space at the top.
Next I wondered how long to bake the mini cupcakes. I guessed at 10 minutes, and slid the first pan into the oven that I’d preheated to 350°F. At 10 minutes they were still a bit wet looking on top so I gave them 2 more minutes. The toothpick tested clean so they were done. I set the pan onto a rack to cool and slid the next pan into the oven.
I had no idea how many mini cupcakes the box of cake batter would make, but the answer was about 68. Your number might vary either direction depending on how you fill the cups. I baked two batches with my pan that held 24, then a third batch with a pan of 12 and a pan that held 8.
While the cupcakes cooled I mixed up a batch of my favorite cream cheese frosting. It’s a huge batch and in hindsight I realize I should have cut it in half. I didn’t even use half of the frosting. But I did a search and discovered many sites were sure you could freeze cream cheese frosting so I’m good. I divided and froze it in two containers for future use.
I frosted the cupcakes with a layer of cream cheese frosting. Yes, I frosted 68 small cupcakes and it was as tedious as it sounds. But I hasten to say, it was worth it in cuteness. They were adorable, even before adding the final decorations.
I used the two tubes of gel icing to draw lines on the tops of the frosted mini cupcakes. It doesn’t look so very professional at first, but once you get the lights on, they will be adorable. My cousin Shirley set the mini m & ms vertically into the green strings and they totally looked like strands of lights! The blog suggested black lines but everyone knows most tree lights are green to hide in the tree’s branches!
A quick mention of the mini m & ms.. I had a tough time finding them in the stores! I finally got lucky and found small round cylinders of the mini candies in the candy rack at the checkout counter of a grocery store! I picked up 3 tubes, but could have used 4 or 5. Same as the green piping gel, I’d bought 2 tubes but could have used 3. I was guessing.
It wasn’t a huge problem, I had a few mini cupcakes we added the remainder of the m & ms to when we ran out of the green to make lines. Then when we ran out of m & ms we used green sprinkles. The world did not end, we simply improvised. We had so many of the cupcakes we decided we’d save the rogue ones for ourselves for later. I also sent some home with Shirley.
As I said earlier, these were fun to make and I’m sure everyone will be as crazy about them at Christmas time as we were when we made them. Total cuteness! And did I mention how delicious they were? You can’t go wrong with carrot cake and cream cheese. Unless you want to go with other flavors, which is definitely up to you. Or you could even make regular sized cupcakes if you’d like. We have a dessert buffet and want everyone to try several treats so keeping the cupcakes small is best for us.
Christmas Lights Mini Cupcakes
Mini carrot cake cupcakes frosted with cream cheese frosting and decorated with mini m & m light strings.
- 1 box cake mix of your choice (I used carrot cake)
- 65-70 mini cupcake liners
- frosting of choice (I made cream cheese frosting and used about 2 cups. you could halve the recipe)
- 3 small tubes of green gel frosting for cake decorating (I used Betty Crocker)
- 4-5 small 1 oz tubes of mini m & ms (or a bag with at least 5 ounces if you can find them)
Frost the tops of the cupcakes smoothly with the frosting.
Use the tubes of gel to draw green lines randomly over the tops of the frosting.
Stick m & ms vertically into the side of the cupcakes, along the green lines.
Store in covered containers, in the refrigerator if using a cream cheese frosting.
Adapted from Baked Bree