Cream Tart Tree Cake – shaped like a Christmas tree, this holiday version of the popular cream tart number cake has gingerbread cookies layered with cream cheese frosting and is topped with meringue kisses, chocolate, sprinkles and more gingerbread cookies!
We’re officially kicking off our holiday content! And it only seemed fitting that the most popular cake trend of 2018 make an appearance in our line up. The cream tart number cakes that took over Instagram and Pinterest this year are so pretty to look at and super fun to make. The original version of this cake is a layering of pâte sablée, a French pastry dough that is crisp and cookie-like (aka tart crust) topped with dollops of cream and decorated with a medley of fresh fruit, macarons, flowers, meringue kisses, candy and more.
I wanted to put a festive spin on this layered dessert for the holiday season so I went with gingerbread for the cookie layers and a cream cheese frosting for the filling. On top are meringue kisses in all shapes, sizes and colors, M&M’s, sixlets, sprinkles and more gingerbread cookies for some added height. It all comes together for a playful yet merry dessert perfect for a Christmas party! Follow my lead with the pink and green color combination or keep it classic with red and green. Whatever shades you choose, start with the candy and sprinkles and let them determine the hue for the decorations you make at home.
This type of cake is definitely a “more is more” style! If you’re like me and tend to lean towards a “less is more” philosophy… you’ll really have to challenge yourself to keep adding items to this cake. I stopped several times and then forced myself to go back and add more. Even though I hesitated, I’m really glad that I went for MORE because the end result looked much better. Have fun and let me know if you give this tutorial a try!
CREAM TART TREE CAKE
a tutorial by Carrie Sellman
- Your favorite gingerbread cookie dough (I used this recipe)
- Cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
- Tree Template (download here – save then print)
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Tray
- Mini Cookie Cutters
- Piping Bags
- Piping Tip 1A or Tip 806
- Meringue Kisses
- Green M&Ms
- Pink Sixlets
- Pink and Green Diamond Sprinkles
Prepare gingerbread cookie dough, divide into three portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Print out tree template (download here – save then print) and cut out. Once dough is chilled, roll out one portion of dough to be 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick on a piece of parchment paper.
Dust dough with additional flour so that the tree template does not stick. Place tree template onto dough and cut around it with a sharp knife.
Remove template and remove dough scraps leaving your cutout tree behind. Save scraps for reuse later. Dust excess flour off of tree. Bake tree at 350F for 15 to 18 minutes until edges are golden brown. Let cookie cool on the baking sheet until it is set. Remove the entire sheet of parchment paper and let cookie cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough to make three trees in total.
Roll out excess dough and cut out 7 or more cookies using the mini cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 8-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool. NOTE: I used 4 of these cookies as garnish in my final cake but it’s always good to have extra to allow for changes and/or breakage.
While cookies are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting:
- 12 ounces unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cold
- 4 ounces salted butter, slightly softened but still cold
- 8 ounces cream cheese, block style like Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 6-7 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined.
- Gradually add confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
- Add vanilla and heavy cream and mix until combined. Mix on low several minutes until fluffy and light.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip like an 806. Gather all of your toppings for assembly. I used meringue kisses (in various shapes, sizes and colors), green M&M’s, pink sixlets, pink and green sprinkles.
Lay one cookie flat onto serving board or parchment paper. Pipe dollops of frosting all over the cookie to completely cover it.
Layer a second cookie on top. Then pipe dollops of frosting all over the cookie to completely cover it again.
Repeat with the third layer of cookie and frosting.
Decorate the tree starting with your largest pieces. I started with my gingerbread cookies as anchors, with the star at top, followed by the reindeer and gingerbread men.
Add your remaining toppings working from biggest to smallest. This is where it really starts to get fun! Let your creativity shine and place items as it looks right to your eye. I chose to group smaller items together so that they would form one solid pop of color as a collective group (for example, a small cluster of pink sixlets together and another small cluster of green sprinkles together, etc.) I personally liked this look better than the small items scattered everywhere. But you do what works for you!
I can’t wait to see what you do with this idea! If you make a Cream Tart Tree Cake, be sure to share it with us. Tag @thecakeblog on Instagram or use #thecakeblog. Or if you’re more of a Pinterest person, upload your photo onto our pin. Happy holiday baking everyone!