DIY Delight: Make Your Holidays Sweeter with Pine Cone Cakes!

Pine Cone Cakes

These pine cone cakes will brighten up your Christmas table with adorable cheer! They are so easy to make and put together and are filled with a centre of rich chocolate cake spiked with Nutella and Baileys while the outer detail is made easy by using cereal. This is such a fun, edible no project!

I first saw these pine cone cakes on Tiktok by Bella Bakes but I'm not sure who invented these pine cone cakes (I did see a youtube clip from 2022 which was the earliest one I could find). The thing that appealed to me so much is that they're so easy to make and that the result is a realistic looking pine cone.

The base of my pine cone cake recipe is chocolate cake which is then crumbled and spiked with Baileys (or rum, Grand Marnier, Chambord or the liqueur of your choice). Nutella is used to moisten the mixture further. I used my favourite vegan chocolate cake recipe because it is easy and super moist (sorry). To shape the cake you need a moist cake mixture so that it holds together. You could even buy a chocolate cake if you don't have the time nor patience. Or you can use a packet of Tim Tams and some cream cheese like I did in these cookie pops.

The pine cone outer is a cinch and done using cereal - in Australia Milo cereal is perfect, in America you can use Premier Protein Chocolate Almond Cereal and in Europe, Asia, the Middle-East and Latin America you can use Chocapic or Koko Krunch cereal.

Tips For Making Pine Cone Cakes

Pine Cone Cakes

1 - These are really easy so I don't have many tips but if you want to split this up across 2 days you can bake the cake the day before and then shape and decorate them on the day.

2 - These are a cinch to make as long as the mixture is soft enough to keep its shape but also to poke the cereal in. I've seen some that look really hard. If you follow this cake recipe the resulting mix will be perfect for shaping.

3 - These are best made on the day that you serve them (so that the cereal stays crisp). Otherwise you can shape the cake cones and freeze them. Then add the cereal before you serve them (the cereal doesn't stay crisp if you freeze it) and dust with icing or powdered sugar.

Pine Cone Cakes

Other than that, that's it! These are the cutest, most fun Christmas project. You could even do these with kids, just use orange or apple juice instead of spiking the cake with liqueur. I am all about easy for Christmas as this year has been hectic. Just a few weeks before I was at big supermarket and I had around $300 worth of items in my cart. My mouth was watering because I had one of their famous barbecue chickens in my trolley and all I could think was that I wanted to grab a drumstick and eat it in the car. I had skipped lunch and my stomach was grumbling. The smell was driving me crazy and I checked out and placed my phone on the credit card reader.


"Oh can I do it again? I think I must have turned off my screen too quickly," I said to the check out woman.


I tried my actual card and by now the queue behind me was not only growing in length but impatience. I knew that there was money in the account but I hadn't brought my second credit card with me. The checkout woman made an announcement that a suspend was needed and told me to come back to her when I had it sorted out.

Pine Cone Cakes

After frantically texting Mr NQN for around 20 minutes while sweating with embarrassment I didn't know what to do. I tried logging into the app of my second account and after burrowing deep into the menu options I activated the card (although it had worked fine previously). Could this possibly work?

I spotted a small lull in the queue and went back to the checkout woman. "Can we try this card through the app?" I asked her sheepishly. "Sure!" she said and we tried again. She pointed out that it wasn't in my phone's wallet. I told her I had tried adding it many times that afternoon but it hadn't worked.

"May I?" she said taking my phone. She tapped at the phone, her long and perfectly manicured nails tapping on my phone. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had tried about half a dozen times that afternoon.

And then before my eyes it worked. It worked!! She had the magic touch! I don't know what the difference was, perhaps it was that the card was activated now. I paid for my groceries and thanked her for her help and infinite patience and went off to eat a chicken drumstick in the car.

So tell me Dear Reader, has that ever happened to you? How are you feeling with Christmas coming up soon?

Pine Cone Cakes

Pine Cone Cakes

Did you make this recipe? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Makes 12

  • 225g/7.9ozs cake flour
  • 300g/10.6ozs brown sugar
  • 45g/1.6ozs cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons bicarb
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs coffee
  • 1/2 cup/125ml/4flozs water
  • 1/2 cup/125ml/4flozs sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil eg canola, grapeseed, rice bran)
  • 45ml/1.6flozs white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 100g/3.5ozs dark chocolate, very finely chopped
  • 180g/6ozs Nutella
  • 3-4 tablespoons Baileys, rum, Grand Marnier, Chambord or liqueur of choice (or use orange juice)
  • 240g/8.5ozs Milo cereal

Step 1 - Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Line the base and sides of a 20x20cm/8inch square or round tin. Whisk the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt together in a large bowl. In a jug whisk the coffee, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and whisk in the wet. Stir in the chocolate.

Pine Cone Cakes

Step 2 -Pour the batter into the tin and rest on the counter for 10 minutes (to allow proteins in flour to relax for a more tender cake). Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool and cover. You can make the cake the day beforehand.

Pine Cone Cakes
Adding the Nutella and liqueur

Pine Cone Cakes
Moist mixture, ready to be shaped

Step 3 -Line 2 trays with parchment. Measure out the Nutella and liqueur. Crumble up the cake with your hands mixing in the Nutella and liqueur combining well. You don't want any dry patches to the crumbled mixture. Measure out 12 lots of cake crumbs (I use a scale to weigh out 12x100g/3.5ozs quantities).

Pine Cone Cakes
Hand placement to shape into pine cones

Pine Cone Cakes

Step 4 -Shape into a cone shape using your hands. The heat from your hands will make this mixture form a cohesive shape. Place the bottom of your palms together (like if you were resting your face on your hands). The bottom should form a V and this is where you can shape the cone's top. Place on the baking tray and repeat with remaining mixture.

Pine Cone Cakes

Step 5 -Wash hands well. Place some of the cereal in a bowl and then place them concave side facing up starting at the base. Do row after row but make sure that you alternative the placement of each piece of cereal. Cup together the cone at the top so that the cereal stands up closer to the body (rather than being spread out). Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Pine Cone Cakes

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