Making Christmas tree cakes using the cone cups from water coolers in offices all across America are a decorative and delicious way to gear up for the holiday season. Unlike holiday cookies, these cakes are 3-D, standing tall just like the evergreens that they represent. Like the cookies, they can be decorated with anything small, sweet and edible from sprinkles to colored sugar to white and milk chocolate bark drizzles, making it a particularly good recipe to allow smaller children to help with.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
The cone cups that your cakes will be poured into won't stand up on their own in the oven. For this reason, you need to prepare a tin roasting pan, the sort that are disposable and are widely available around the holidays. Cut circles, or even triangles, into the pan, leaving enough clearance above for each of the cone cups to fit easily. Flip the pan over once the holes have been cut and place a cone cup in each hole.
In one mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix the liquid ingredients: eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.
Make a well in the dry ingredient mixture. Add the liquid ingredients and blend thoroughly. Add the hot water.
Spray a light coating of cooking spray into each of the cone cups. Divide the batter amongst the cone cups.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Allow to sit until completely cooled. Invert the cakes and remove the cone cups.
Decorate each Christmas tree cake as desired. Stick heavier decorations on using melted chocolate bark as "glue."