Easter nest cupcakes

I love this time of year! It’s warm enough to go outside without a jacket, there’s more sunshine, flowers are starting to bloom, and then there’s Easter. The sight of colorful eggs, chocolates and hot cross buns instantly brings back fond childhood memories. Thoughts of Easter egg hunts and eating chocolate all bring a smile to my face. It seems that the simple things in life are the ones that can make us the happiest.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted something that was easy to make. After all, the holidays are a time to spend with family – not fussing over an intricate dessert. So why not make cupcakes? They’re whimsical and are undeniably Easter. Best of all they combine all the best elements of Easter – color, cake and chocolate eggs. Need I say more? The cupcake is fluffy and light with a nice vanilla flavoring. The icing is creamy, rich and buttery without being cloying sweet. Make extra because you might end up eating some right out of the bowl! For the decorations, you can use whatever you have on hand, Cadbury Mini Eggs (my personal and easy to find), jelly beans, Jordan almonds or just plain ole’ sprinkles. In addition to creating the illusion of a bird’s nest, the sprinkle of toasted coconut gives the cupcake additional texture.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Easter Nest Cupcakes
(Yield: 30 cupcakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 90 pieces of Mini Eggs (optional)
Swiss meringue buttercream recipe to follow

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Spread coconut flakes on a lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 7-10 minutes or until flakes begin to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Place paper or foil liners in a muffin pan and set aside.
  • In a bowl with a spout or a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk and vanilla and set aside.
  • Combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and use an electric mixer to combine.
  • Add the cubed butter a couple of pieces at a time, mixing until just coated with flour.
  • Add the wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition. Mix until ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to overbeat.
  • Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes for approximately 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing. Repeat with process with the remaining batter.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or your favourite flavoring (optional)

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and egg whites and the bowl on top of water bath. Continually whisk the sugar and egg white mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature of the mixture is at least 130F. When it’s ready, the mixture will feel hot but smooth to the touch.
  • Using a hand or stand mixer on medium to high speed, whip the meringue until it has doubled in volume and has cooled. This will take approximately 10 minutes. The frosting should have cooled completely before continuing.
  • Switch to a paddle attachment and slowly add in the cubes of butter. The mixture may appear to curdle but continue mixing and it will smooth out.
  • Once the butter has been incorporated add in the vanilla extract or any other flavorings/extracts. Continue to mix for another 5 minutes to ensure the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • If you’re storing the frosting in the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature and remix briefly before using.

To assemble:

  • Frost the cooled cupcakes using a piping bag or an offset spatula.
  • Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes around the edge of the cupcakes and place three chocolate eggs in the center of the cupcakes.

The cupcakes will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Do let the cupcakes come to room temperature before serving, the frosting has a nicer consistency that way.

Recipe notes: The recipe called for whole milk but I only had skim. I don’t think it affected the taste or texture (at least according to my
testers). My cupcakes were done at 18 minutes. There is a tablespoon of baking powder in this recipe so the cupcakes will rise. I suggest not filling the muffin cups more than 2/3 full. Double the butter cream recipe if you want extra or have a heavy hand. The buttercream does take a bit of time to make – it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish. If you’re baking your cupcakes while making your frosting, you’ll want to budget your time accordingly.

(Cupcake recipe source: Martha Stewart)
(Swiss Meringue Butter cream recipe: Adapted from Dufflet Pastries)

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2 thoughts on “Easter nest cupcakes

  1. The meringue buttercream is to die for — it isn’t too rich and it isn’t cloyingly sweet like many icings. And coconut in my opinion is itself divine.

    Perhaps it’s just aesthetic, but I like to slice off the tops of my cupcakes so I can decorate on a flat surface. And it gives me an opportunity to eat the extra pieces I cut off. Cupcakes have got to be my favourite thing because there’s no obligation to share …

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