For the latest Is My Blog Burning cupcake event I wanted to make something fun and full of chocolate for Easter. I was inspired by Easter Nest cookies in the How to Be a Domestic Goddess cookbook by Nigella Lawson, and had to find a way to make the same nest structure work in cupcake form. Nigella Lawson uses shredded wheat to create the nests for her cookies, but I just couldn’t imagine tainting such rich chocolate cupcakes with wheat. After much consideration I decided to use long sprinkles (a.k.a. Jimmies) to simulate the texture. I mixed them into a rich milk chocolate frosting to create the nest for the little Easter “eggs” (a.k.a. jellybeans) on top. The devil’s food cake base, milk chocolate frosting, sprinkles and jellybeans make this the ultimate Easter cupcake, and will certainly please adults and children alike.
Devil’s Food “Tribute” Cake
Recipe from Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate by Alice Medrich
(Yields 1 Three-layer 9″ cake or 24 cupcakes)
2 cups (7 ounces) sifted (before measuring) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then sift onto a sheet of wax paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and lukewarm water; set aside to cool. In a glass measure, combine the buttermilk, the remaining 1/2 cup water, and the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs briefly to combine the whites and yolks.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. With the mixer on medium, slowly add the eggs, taking about 2 minutes in all. Continue to beat, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is fluffy and velvety.
Stop the mixer and scrape in the cocoa mixture, then beat on medium speed just until combined. Stop the mixer, add one-third of the flour mixture, and beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk mixture, and beat only until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat with half of the remaining flour, then all the remaining buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.
Fill each cupcake about 2/3 full. Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean (a few light crumbs sticking is ok).
Milk Chocolate Icing
Recipe from The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook by Jennifer Appel
(Yields icing for 1 Two-layer 9″ cake. Make a half batch for 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 oz. milk chocolate
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 to 7 cups (or more) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup hot scalded milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine the butter with the milk chocolate and stir over low heat, until melted and completely smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl with half the sugar and half the milk. Beat on the medium speed of an electric mixture until smooth.
Add the remaining sugar and milk, as well as the vanilla, and continue beating until smooth. Add extra sugar if needed and beat until creamy and of desired consistency.
To Make the Easter Egg Cupcakes:
Once the cupcakes are cool, frost the cupcakes with a thin layer of milk chocolate frosting (without sprinkles mixed in).
If frosting 24 cupcakes, transfer approximately 1 1/2 cups of frosting into a separate medium bowl and mix in 8 oz. of chocolate sprinkles until completely covered (use approximately 1 cup of frosting and 4 oz. of sprinkles for 12 cupcakes). Add additional chocolate frosting as necessary until the desired consistency is reached.
Use two spoons to drop heaps of the thick icing onto the cupcakes. Use the back of a spoon to push the frosting out to the edges of the cupcake. Be sure to leave a slight dip in the middle to hold the Easter “Eggs”.
Top with jellybeans, chocolate eggs or any other favorite Easter candy.
Tips, Tricks and Truths:
- I used King Arthur White Jimmies, but would recommend using chocolate sprinkles like the ones from Guittard.
- Alice Medrich’s devil’s food cake is excellent, but if making these cupcakes for kids I would save time and used a boxed cake mix.
- I couldn’t bare to do without dark chocolate, so I used 2/3 milk chocolate and 1/3 dark chocolate in my frosting.
- To make “hot scalded milk” I put the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds.
- You can make 1/2 cup of buttermilk by adding 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to 1/2 cup of whole milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes before using.