Friday, April 20, 2007

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

If you came to my site on Easter (or scrolled down a bit I guess), you were greeted by a picture of the finished army of these cupcakes. This was the first part of the Easter baskets Lorrie and I created. Originally, I hadn't planned on doing these. As Easter approached I assumed I'd be doing cut-outs again in rabbit and egg shapes. I changed my plans when I decided to try to do some things with less sugar but I still wanted a couple things in the basket that still were pure, unadulterated sugared-up treats.

I used a yellow cake recipe for the cupcake base. Lorrie and my uncle can't have chocolate so that's always in the back of my mind and something I plan for. I've used this recipe before for cupcakes and I know it tastes good. Going forward though I think I will look for something else. This recipe tastes good and is easy enough to make but still it is much more dense than I would prefer. I think I can do better.

I spent a lot of time trying to think of how to decorate these. I had the idea to do an Easter basket theme right away but it was trying to figure out the execution of it that took a while. My first thought was the Peeps chicks, but when I saw the packages and the actual size of each chick, I knew there wouldn't be room for anything else. It had to be the bunnies. I liked the malted milk robin eggs over any of the jelly bean options at the store and they stayed in the theme well as the decorated eggs in the basket. The grass was something I didn't expect to find or use. I used green-dyed coconut last year for the grass and wasn't going to give it a second thought this year until I found this new candy grass right next to the Peeps at Target. Made from potato starch and corn starch, the grass really didn't have much flavor but worked as an alternative to the coconut. Plus, I hate coconut so I was really going to try anything else. I think I spent the longest time brainstorming on how to stick all this on the cupcakes. I didn't want strong flavored frostings and some just don't hold well. In the end, I used marshmallow creme as the frosting. This worked really well. A little dab on the bottom of the Peeps bunny held it in place, for the most part. The marshmallow creme as frosting actually worked very well and was rather easy to put on and spread. Much easier than some of the frostings/glazes I've used in the past. Some did dribble down the sides and it did melt slightly in the sun but really, frosting makes a mess too.

Yellow Cake
from page 352 of the The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

Makes 12 cupcakes

12 Tbls. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 oz) sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs plus 2 yolks
2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 oz) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, buttermilk, or yogurt (I used buttermilk)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until the batter is fluffy. This should take at least five minutes. Also, make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature. This is a requirement for making a butter cake.

Add the eggs and yolks one at a time. Beat thoroughly before adding the next. Then slowly fold in a third of the flour, then half of the milk, then another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and then the last of the flour. Only stir until mixed. Overmixing will reduce the volume of air trapped in the butter and sugar.

Pour into your greased or paper-lined cake pans or cupcake pans. Cooking times vary by shape but the cupcakes took about twenty-five to thirty minutes and rotate the pan 180° about twelve minutes in. Cool in the pan for about five minutes for cupcakes and ten minutes for a cake and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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