Cali Christmas Cactus Cupcakes

The real Christmas Cactus blooms in the midst of the holiday season, and my version – these Cali Christmas Cactus Cupcakes – do too. But instead of flowering with purple or red blooms, my mini Saguaros and cacti are decorated with royal icing and rainbow sprinkles. Stick these cactus cookies in a bed of chocolatey desert sands and you’ll have a festive, unique gift. Want more baking gift ideas? Try these super easy Gingerbread Rice Krispies or my sweet lil’ Rudolph Cake Pops.

Two easy steps: first, cut out and bake the cookies, and second, make the cupcakes. First, let’s talk cacti cookies. Whip up a batch of sugar cookie dough, and roll out. Cut out the cactus shapes. The cactus cookie cutters from the Holiday Lights and Llamas post will work, too.

After the cookies have cooled, prepare a batch of royal icing and color it green. I guess I was feeling the need for brightness because I chose electric green for the cacti, and electric pink for the cactus flowers.  Everyday I pass a cactus painted electrical box on Sunset and Vermont. It pretty much sings, “Eastside livin.”

Flood the cookies and let dry completely. I use a dehydrator to speed up the process. Yes, you read correctly, a dehydrator. Did I mention what a darn nerd I am.

Once the royal icing has dried completely, it’s time to decorate. Use the royal icing to adhere the decorations. Have fun! Give the cacti a colorful string of lights or bright Christmas flowers.

I found a set of 2-inch square, cupcake-sized planters online. For a quick hack, buy a box of  chocolate cake mix. Bake as cupcakes and fit each cupcake into a washed and dried planter. This is a legit planter, so I actually had to put a small piece of parchment paper at the bottom so the cake batter wouldn’t ooze out the water hole! Last, frost with homemade frosting or off-the-shelf frosting. You do you! I love the Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge Frosting. It is honestly super yummy.  Sometimes I add a tablespoon of milk to make it a bit creamier if you like that texture.

Using a dry knife, make an incision in the cupcake for the decorated Cali Cacti Cookies. Don’t be shy here… give it a good little stick in the mud.

I used a variety of sprinkles and jimmies, and the extra royal icing when needed. You really can’t go wrong with decorating these cacti. Let ’em bloom.



Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Christmas Succulent

By TheSweetNerd  

December 1, 2019


1 box of Duncan Hines cake mix

1 jar of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting

Royal Icing

2 pounds confectioners sugar

5 Tablespoons meringue powder

2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 to 3/4 cups warm water

Desired color food coloring

Sugar Cookie

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla


Royal Icing

1Add vanilla flavoring into 1/2 cup water and set aside until step 3.

2In the mixer (paddle attachment), gently mix confectioners sugar and meringue powder on low.

3Add 1/2 cup flavored water and mix on low until it is thick and lumpy.

4Now drizzle the remaining water as needed until it becomes a thick like honey consistency.

5At this point, turn mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or so until icing is thick and fluffy. Stop when it forms a soft peak.

6Add desired colors and use to decorate.

Sugar Cookie


1Dries: Whisk flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2Base: In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Next, add eggs, vanilla and optional flavorings of citrus zest or spices (ie: cardamom).

3Gradually, add dries to base just until incorporated. Chill in refrigerator up to one hour. Roll on lightly floured surface. Cut shapes.

4Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.

5Note: When you cut into a shape, chill in freezer to set. Then, transfer directly to hot oven.


1Bake box cake mix using instructions on box. Place in cute container that looks like a pot. Frost each cake potted plant, and then cut a slit in the cake. Last, insert the decorated sugar cookie.


1 Comment

  • 6 years ago

    What a fun cupcake topper! Such festive decorations.

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