Welcome to our first installment of DIY Snack Cakes! Over the next month, we are pulling out all the stops and making our favorite snack cakes at home. Sure, it's a little bit more work than buying a box of cosmic brownies or Hostess twinkies at the store, but it's totally worth it. Today we are taking on the holiday classic, Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes. Introduced in 1985, the yellow cake filled with creme and topped with green sprinkles and red icing has always been a classic snack cake to serve during the holidays. Today the Little Debbie brand sells variations of the cake including chocolate, red velvet, and even brownie.
What Ingredients are in Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes?
You shouldn't be surprised that there are a few ingredients to preserve freshness in the batch. The ingredients include:
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Palm and Soybean Oils with TBHQ and Citric Acid to Protect Flavor, Palm and Palm Kernel Oil, Dextrose, Soybean Oil. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Corn Starch, Dried Egg Whites, Green Sugar Crystals (Sugar, Confectioner's Glaze, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Carnauba Wax), Whey (Milk), Salt, Mono- and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Sorbitan Monostearate, Sorbic Acid (to Preserve Freshness), Titanium Dioxide, Polysorbate 60, Red 40 Lake, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Polysorbate 80, Annatto Extract, Turmeric Extract, Soy Flour, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate).
Thankfully we don't have to deal with that many ingredients with our own version!
How to Make DIY Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes
While you can make the cake from scratch, I decided to use a cake mix to make it a little easier and faster. This recipe was inspired by Grace Like Rain Blog. I used fewer eggs, added more powdered sugar and vanilla extract in the filling, and removed the shortening from the almond bark topping.
Making your own Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes gives you so many possibilities. Swap the yellow cake for gingerbread cake, add peppermint in the coating, or add peanut butter to the creme filling. The sky is the limit!
To start, preheat your oven, prepare the cake batter and prepare your baking pans. I highly suggest using parchment paper for this recipe to make removing the cake from the baking pan easier.
Bake the cake until it bounces back and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile prepare the filling by whipping together the marshmallow creme, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
I originally cut out the tree shapes and spread the cream filling on each individually but I realized halfway through I could have spread all the creme on one cake, topped the cake with the other cake, then cut the shapes. It would have made the creme even. But alas, I did not think of it until after I was halfway through the cake. You can use either method!
Once the trees are cut out, place them in the freezer for 2 hours to set up. This will make it easier to dip the cake in the vanilla almond coating.
Melt the almond coating according to the instructions on the bag and dip the trees using a fork to shake off the excess. Immediately sprinkle on the green sugar or sprinkles. Once the almond coating is dry, add the red icing and let set. Serve with a big ol' glass of milk for Santa.
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DIY Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes
- 4 eggs
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup Vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 jar marshmallow creme 7 oz
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 24 oz white almond bark
- green sanding sugar
- 1 red cookie icing pouch
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line bottoms of two half-sheet pans (18x13-inch) with parchment paper. Add a dab of cake batter to bottom of parchment paper if it keeps rolling.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale yellow.
- Add white cake mix, water, and oil. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape, then on medium for 1 minute.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched and is a pale golden. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
- Use a Christmas Tree cookie cutter to cut Christmas Trees from the cakes. Save scraps for cake pops.
- For the filling, beat marshmallow creme, softened butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in 2 cups of powdered sugar until no lumps remain and it is creamy.
- Using an offset spatula, frost half of the cut Christmas trees. Top with the other half and sandwich together. Place the Christmas Trees into the freezer for two hours or more until they are firm.
- In a deep bowl, melt the almond bark according to package directions and dip the Christmas trees using a fork. Sprinkle with sprinkles and pipe on red icing. Let set and serve.