ROBIN EGG CUPCAKES

Becoming a mom has made me so much more aware of “activities.” Even though James is still pretty young, this time next year he will be a busy toddler, whining about being bored. So, whether it’s puzzles, or books, or art,  I’ll always have to have something on hand to keep him busy. That or I’ll be the parent who yells, “Only boring people are bored!” So for easter, the idea of dying eggs has never really appealed to me. It’s messy, and you’re left with a bunch of inedible hardboiled eggs, which is not something I need in my life. But these cupcakes? A fun activity and totally edible. Set the kids up with the cupcakes and let them decorate with candy eggs, coconut, sprinkles, whatever. It’s fun, low key, and most importantly, delicious.

 

VANILLA CUPCAKES

For 1 double layer 9-inch cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in center of oven. Grease one cupcake pan and fill with paper wrappers.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter until soft and creamy and gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Evenly scoop the batter into each wrapper, smoothing the tops. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.

Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cupcakes onto a greased rack. Re-invert cupcakes so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before frosting.

BUTTERCREAM

1 1/4 cups sugar

5 large egg whites

pinch of cream of tartar

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (doesn’t need to be rock hard)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beet Juice, for coloring

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage).

Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not over-beat.

With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla, and salt. If frosting curdles, keep beating until smooth.

Take a small amount, like a 1/4 cup, and add some beet juice. Vigorously stir to color it. Use this for your flowers.

To assemble you’ll need:

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 recipe Buttercream

1 tablespoon spirulina (or red cabbage juice, or blue food coloring)

Toasted coconut

Cocoa powder + water

Paint brush

Candy eggs (you can find a bunch of options here)

To assemble, combine the spirulina with a little water to form a paste, and add to the buttercream, stirring to combine.  Smooth the buttercream onto the cupcakes. Combine cocoa powder and water until thin. Dip the paintbrush into the cocoa mixture and flick it quickly over the cupcakes to create speckles. You can also quickly rub your finger against the bristles to create speckles. Add toasted coconut on top and then finish with candy eggs.