Easter has always been a big deal in my family ever since I was a kid. Year after year my mamma has made it a grand event and to this day, she still hides eggs for my sisters and I to find, complete with Easter baskets that I’m pretty sure would put the Easter bunny himself to shame. The three of us are well over our twenties, yet during that moment, when we’re pushing and shoving each other to find plastic eggs filled with money, lottery scratchers and candy, we’re instantly transformed into kids again. I’ve come to learn that you’re never too old to get a basket filled with fake brightly colored grass, and stuffed with lots of goodies. As a kid I took it for granted, I think. Now as an adult, I’ve come to look forward to them even more so, and if she were to ever stop, I’m convinced that that’s the year the world ends. It would signify the beginning of the end. Luckily she has no plans of ever stopping, and I definitely don’t have any plans of ever losing that excitement.
Since Easter is right around the corner, I thought now was a good a time as any to share a fun and festive dessert. I mean, you walk into any party or dinner with these on Sunday, and you’re sure to put smile on everyone’s face. That’s what the holidays are all about. You’d win best dessert of the year award (maybe let’s not exaggerate, but maybe you might). So let’s dust off those muffin tins and make cupcakes cool again, just for a day. If you’re in need of any more Easter recipes for your Sunday brunch or dinner, I’d like to remind you of last year’s Easter Brunch menu on the site. There’s a whole menu of items for you to choose from. An appetizer, a main dish, side salad, dessert and cocktail. You’ll definitely find something that calls out to you, along with a few table setting ideas. Remember that holidays aren’t meant to be stressful at all, and the least amount of work you do, the better. So plan ahead of time and make things the day before or take as much help from the store as you can! Have a game plan so that on the day of, you’re as cool as a cucumber and actually enjoy yourself. These Easter Bunny Cupcakes are most definitely part of that enjoying yourself part. You need them in your life.
Let’s start by creaming together the butter, sugar, and strawberry jell-o until creamy and fluffy.
**Note: I know that adding strawberry gelatin might sound a little weird, and you might be skeptical. That’s okay, I was too. The truth is that you’re not going to get that rich strawberry taste and flavor (or deep pink color) without it. Fresh strawberries alone, won’t do it.**
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and then add the vanilla and strawberry purée.
**Note: Thaw the frozen strawberries and then add about 1/4 cup (with their juice) to a blender and blend until smooth. Add about 2 tablespoons worth to the batter and then stir. This will just enrich the strawberry batter.**
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. Make sure to start and end with the dry ingredients. Divide the batter among a 12 cupcake tin, lined with paper liners.
**Tip: Use a medium ice cream scoop to portion out the batter and make sure the cupcakes are all the same size.**
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes, invert the cupcakes onto a wire rack to let cool completely.
Once completely cool, make the vanilla buttercream. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high until fluffy and stiff, about 6 minutes.
Set aside and make the ears for the bunny cupcakes. Roll out the gum paste to about 1/4-inch thick and then cut into ear shapes. Brush one side with water and then dunk into pink sugar sprinkles. Place on a baking sheet to set. Make 24 ears since we need two per cupcake.
**Tip: If you can’t find gum paste, you can use mini marshmallows that are cut in half (lengthwise) and then dip into the sprinkles.**
Because my cupcakes are a little flatter on top, we need a big mound of frosting. Use a medium ice cream scoop to place a scoop of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Then using a small offset spatula, smooth out the frosting as best you can to create a smooth dome.
**Tip: If you don’t have a small offset spatula, feel free to use the smooth side of a butter knife.**
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave and then transfer to a small piping bag. I just create one with a triangular piece of parchment paper and then I snip off the tip. Pipe out a mouth onto each cupcake and then place a small pink ball sprinkle for a nose and then pipe out two eyes.
**Tip: You can also use a plastic sandwich bag with the end snipped off for a piping bag.**
If you don’t have time to make the cake batter from scratch, then feel free to use a boxed cake mix instead. Use any flavored cake you like. It doesn’t need to be strawberry in particular. I just like strawberry because the color and flavor screams Easter and spring to me.
You can find the pink ball sprinkles for the nose in most craft stores that have a cake section, or online. Feel free to use colored icing or any other candy that you think might work for a nose!
You can bake the cupcakes one or two days in advance and then wrap them well in plastic wrap. Then you can just decorate them the morning you plan on serving them. It’ll save you a bit of time when making these cupcakes, as there are a bit of steps involved. But believe me, if I can make them, you definitely can.
Make these this week in preparation for all of your Easter festivities. Or just make them for yourself so that you can enjoy a bunny cupcake because we all deserve a cute cupcake critter every once in a while. They make great gifts for a host or hostess, as they’re sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Happy Easter, friends!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ cup teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup strawberry flavored gelatin
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons frozen strawberry purée (thawed strawberries blended)
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon heavy cream
- 2 ounces gum paste
- 2 tablespoons pink sugar sprinkles
- ½ cup chocolate chips, melted
- 2 tablespoons pink ball sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and strawberry gelatin until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and strawberry purée and mix until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk in batches, mixing just until combined after each addition. Make sure to start and end with the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake tin.
- Bake until puffed and when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and cream and beat on high until stiff. Using a medium ice cream scoop, add a scoop of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Smooth out into a dome with a small offset spatula.
- To create the ears, roll out the gum paste to about ¼-inch thick and then cut into 24 small bunny ear shapes. Brush each with a tiny bit of water and then dunk into the pink sugar sprinkles, placing them sprinkle side up onto a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Pour the melted chocolate into a small piping bag or plastic sandwich bag (with the end snipped off) and then pipe out a mouth onto each cupcake. Place a pink ball sprinkle at the tip, for a nose, and then create two eyes on each. Add two ears on the top and then serve. Any leftovers can be placed in the fridge for up to 3 days.