I don't even remember where I came across this idea, but I instantly fell in love with it. Maybe because I'm a glutton for punishment and nothing I ever make is simple. Something about these random "messy" trees and the cute little leaf sprinkles just made me all warm and fuzzy inside. OK, that's an exaggeration. I just thought these were super cute and wouldn't take too much time to make.
I used a base chocolate cake - and infused the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. I then tinted the buttercream green (I left the infusion white - because there was just something "odd" about biting into a cupcake and seeing green cream).
For the trees, I melted some Mercken's chocolate in a double boiler and transferred it to a squeeze bottle. I freehanded some trees onto parchment paper - and learned after too many times - to leave a longer truck to stick into the cupcakes. As soon as I piped the trees with the chocolate, I used a tweezer to place the leaves where I wanted them. I know, I could have just sprinkled them on the trees, but I'm too anal for that. I found the leaf sprinkles in a variety pack at AC Moore/Michaels -- but found a 12oz bag of them online, so I'm all stocked up now.
I lightly frosted the cupcakes with my off-set spatula and then used a Wilton grass tip to pipe the grass on the cupcakes. Once the trees were hardened (just a few minutes), I very carefully stuck them in the cupcakes towards the back so I could sprinkle some extra leaves towards the front. Click on the picture below to see a larger image.
I loved this design so much that I think I'm going to use them for our place settings for Thanksgiving dinner. You'll notice that I made larger fondant leaves and put names on them. I'll do that for each guest and put their cupcake on their plate at the table.