Easter Basket Cupcakes
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
With these Easter Basket Cupcakes, you can transform plain cupcakes into adorable miniature Easter baskets! They’re made with chocolate cupcakes, vanilla buttercream, and all of your favorite Easter candies! A note about the handles: the fondant handles should be made a day in advance, to give them time to harden before assembly. If you don’t have that time, or don’t want to bother with them, you can substitute licorice handles instead, or skip the handles entirely.
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 6 oz butter at room temperature
- 4.75 oz granulated sugar (2/3 cup)
- 5 oz brown sugar (2/3 cup)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz buttermilk (1 cup), at room temperature
- 4 oz sour cream (1/2 cup), at room temperature
- 2 tbsp water
- 7.8 oz all-purpose flour (1¾ cups)
- 3 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (1 cup)
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 9 egg whites
- 14 oz granulated sugar (2 cups)
- 1 lb unsalted butter soft but still cool
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
To Make the Fondant Handles:
Divide the fondant into 12 equal portions. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment and dust it lightly with powdered sugar.
Dust your work surface with powdered sugar, and roll one fondant ball out into a long skinny snake. Fold it in half, so you have two fondant ropes next to each other, and twist them together. Arrange the fondant twist into a horseshoe shape, and set it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fondant until you have 12 basket handles. Let them sit and harden for 24 hours before putting them on the cupcakes.
To Make the Chocolate Cupcakes:
Spray a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Add the butter and both sugars to the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix it in.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and water (or coffee, if using). In a different bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add a quarter of the sifted flour mixture. When the flour streaks have almost all disappeared, add a third of the liquid to the mixing bowl. When that’s incorporated, continue to add the drys and wets in an alternating pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
When the dry ingredients are nearly incorporated, stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and finish mixing the cake by hand. Divide the batter into the jumbo muffin tin and bake at 350 F for 23-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cupcakes completely before using.
To Make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
Beat the whites on medium-high speed until they are a shiny, stiff, voluminous meringue, and are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 15-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again until it has thickened and is smooth and silky. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
The buttercream can be made in advance and kept at room temperature if you’re going to use it the same day, or refrigerated. If it has been chilled, let it sit at room temperature until completely soft, then re-whip it to get the smooth texture back before you use it.
Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan. Take a sharp knife and cut a cone-shaped portion from the center of each cupcake. Fill the hole with a scoop of raspberry jam, coming almost all the way to the top. Cut the bottom off of the cone, and replace the top of the cupcake on top of the jam.
Next, trim around the edges of the cupcakes to remove any overhang and make the sides straight. Place each cupcake on a small plate or cardboard round.
Use a small spatula to spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of all of the cupcakes. It doesn’t have to be pretty or even, it’s just to trap the crumbs in and give you a blank canvas for piping.
Fit a piping bag with a small basketweave tip, and fill it with buttercream. Pipe a basketweave design on the sides of the cupcakes, and pipe a zig-zag around the outer edge of the tops.
Place the coconut and a few drops of green food coloring together in a plastic bag, and rub them together until the coconut turns an even shade of green. Fill the inside of the cupcakes with green coconut, chocolate bunnies, and candy eggs. Finally, insert a fondant handle into the top of each cupcake, pressing down so it’s firmly embedded in the cake.
Calories: 750kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 493mg | Potassium: 252mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 1430IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2.2mg