Easter Cupcakes

by Lauren Matthies


Since Easter will be here quickly, I wanted to post my cupcakes from last Easter.  I apologize in advance, the pictures aren't great because they were just taken on my cell phone and I didn't anticipate posting them on a blog.  That being said, I still wanted to share them with you.

I will show you my decoration process and include the recipes that I used to make my cupcakes.  Some of them were just plain vanilla (my cousin-in-law was pregnant at the time and couldn't eat lemon curd) and others are filled with lemon curd (these were so delicious!)

Pictures

Making the cupcakes and lemon curd...

I had never made a recipe requiring me to beat egg whites nor made lemon curd before and both turned out wonderfully.  Trust yourself, you can do it!

Also, here's another example of why it's good to read your recipes in advance.  As you'll see below, the cake recipe calls for egg whites, and the lemon curd recipe calls for egg yolks.  You can save eggs if you read ahead.

The recipe calls for a wooden spoon, which I didn't have at the time, and they turned out just fine.  Don't worry if you don't have all the "right" tools.

Filling the lemon curd cupcakes...

I used an apple corer to take the center out.  Anytime you remove the center of a cupcake, you just have to be careful not to go too deep or you will have a hole straight through your cupcake.  I generally suggest going more shallow than you think you need and then seeing where that leaves you.  Also, it depends upon the purpose behind why you are coring them.  If it is for flavor, like these lemon curd cupcakes, you may want to go a little bigger, if it is just for looks (like my baby "gender" announcement cupcakes, you may want less).  Also, think about the cupcake to filling ratio that you are aiming for.  As you can see, I used a toothpick to help deepen them a little more precisely after using the apple corer.  You can also, try using the bottom of a cake piping tool if you don't have an apple corer.

Making the bunny ear cupcakes...

I used homemade marshmallow creme fondant for these (recipe below).  I always use marshmallow creme rather than marshmallows because my husband and I are both vegetarians and try to avoid gelatin.  You can also use store bought fondant.  Most people probably won't eat the ears anyways.  I cut them out free form using a knife, however, if you have an appropriate cookie cutter for bunny ears they will turn out more uniform.

As you may be able to see in the pictures, my ears are a little thick.  They held up when the fondant was cold, but drooped as the fondant warmed.  To keep them lifted, I inserted toothpicks into the cupcakes behind the ears, and secured the toothpicks to the ears with a little frosting.  Also, the frosting on these cupcakes was a little thicker to give the ears a solid foundation.  If you use toothpicks behind the ears, just make sure you warn people and/or remove them, especially before letting kids dig in.

For the pink portion of the ears, I hand painted them using the same gel food coloring that I used for the bird's nest cupcakes below.

Making the bird's nest cupcakes...

These were the most tedious of all the cupcakes I made.  (Actually this whole Easter project took a while because the recipes were all homemade, it was my first time making lemon curd, and the decorations were time consuming.  I suggest making sure you allot your time and patience appropriately.  You may want to either just make the cupcakes--the rose ones below are a good option--or use box mix cupcakes and do either bunny ears or bird's nest ones).

The bird bodies are made with the marshmallow fondant rolled into balls (again, you want to work with it when it is colder rather than warmer).  The nest is made from toasted coconut.  I don't remember how long I toasted them for (it was trial and error, but I remember them being very easy to burn.  AKA: Keep an eye on the toasted flakes unless you're a coconut toasting pro!)  The beaks are made of tiny pieces of the fondant that I shaped by hand, and the eyes are little bits of dyed frosting.  I attached the beaks with frosting and hand painted everything with a paintbrush and the gel food coloring that you can see in the below picture.

Making the rose topped cupcakes...

These were the easiest of all the cupcakes.  To make these ones, you simply pipe frosting onto the cupcakes using a closed star piping tool.  I may do a more detailed tutorial on this process at some point as I don't have many pictures of these ones (I'm pretty sure I was delirious by this point :)).

Finished product...

Recipes

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 large egg whites
  • Zest of one lemon

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside (sift them together preferably)
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, and then beat in vanilla
  • With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and milk in three alternating additions (1/2 flour mix, then milk, then remainder of flour mix), beat until just combined, and set aside
  • In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy 
  • With mixer going, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 4 minutes).  Be careful not to over beat.
  • Gently fold the the egg white mixture and lemon zest into the rest of the cake mix 1/3 at a time
  • Evenly divide the mix into cupcake tins and bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4ish lemons)
  • 12 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Instructions:

  • Whisk together yolks, zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan
  • Set over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon
  • Cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the wooden spoon, about 5-7 minutes
  • Remove pan from heat and add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated
  • Pour mix through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl
  • Stir frequently until cool
  • Once cool, place plastic wrap directly on the lemon curd surface, seal in an airtight container, and refrigerate until firm and chilled (at least one hour)
  • Store lemon curd refrigerated and use within two days

Marshmallow Fondant 

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz. container of marshmallow fluff
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Stir marshmallow fluff and vanilla together in a large bowl
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix well
  • Knead in powdered sugar until fondant is pliable and not sticky (this can take quite a bit of time)
  • If you want to color your fondant, add food coloring and continue to knead
  • To store, cover in plastic wrap, place in a ziplock bag, and store in the fridge.
  • Your fondant can last several weeks if stored appropriately

Icing

I don't remember what recipe I used for the frosting, however it looks like a typical buttercream.  You can get as creative as you'd like here.  If you are really going for a lemon flavor, I would suggest adding some lemon zest into your buttercream.