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Gorgeous Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes

For a formal holiday meal like Easter dinner I plan for two desserts: one for the adults and one for the kids. For the adults, I make a pretty frothy pie, like lemon meringue, or something boozy like Grand Marnier-soaked sponge cake. For the children, I make these gorgeous Easter egg nest cupcakes. They are dense and rich and decorated with the prettiest topping — a nest full of chocolate eggs!

The cupcake recipe is one of my absolute standbys. In fact, it is featured in my upcoming cookbook. Sometimes I make it even more intense by adding chocolate chips. However, for Easter, I skip the chips and add the chocolate eggs to the top instead.

The nest on top is made with two very simple ingredients: chow mein noodles and chocolate. You'll see below that I make these ahead of time because it is important that they harden in order to sit properly on top of the cupcakes. I use crunchy-shelled chocolate eggs on top because they are my personal favorite. However, you can use whatever small egg-shaped candies you would like.

To serve these with fanfare, set a whole cake stand of them in the center of the children's table. They'll love reaching up after the meal and selecting one for their plates. And don't be surprised if you see an adult try and sneak a cupcake, too!

RECIPE: Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the Nests:

  • 1 12-cup mini-muffin tin or similarly sized ramekins to serve as molds
  • 1 ½ cups chow mein noodles
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 36 candy eggs of your choice (I use Cadbury eggs)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup freshly brewed coffee
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ pound confectioners' sugar

Directions for the Nests:

1. Make the nests in advance so they have time to harden: In a large microwave-proof bowl melt the chocolate. Heat in the microwave in high power in 30-second bursts until it can be stirred smooth.

2. Stir in the chow mein noodles carefully so they don't break, folding them in until they are completely coated with the chocolate.

3. Spray the inside bottom and sides of the mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Divide the mixture up evenly amongst the muffin tins.

4. Dampen the back of a spoon and make an indent in the center of each chow mein mound to serve as a small well for the eggs. The dampness of the spoon will prevent the spoon from sticking; it won't harm the chocolate.

5. Place the tin in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

Directions for the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a regular-size 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger separate bowl, whisk together the coffee, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring as you go, until the flour is no longer visible.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each one about three-quarters full. Bake the cupcakes for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester comes out clean.

Directions for the Frosting:

1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter at high speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

2. Then beat in the melted chocolate, vanilla and milk until completely incorporated.

3. With a mixer on medium speed, carefully add the confectioners' sugar bit by bit until the frosting is light, fluffy and spreadable. If it gets to thin add a little extra sugar one tablespoon at a time until it stiffens up enough.

To Assemble:

1. Frost the top of each cupcake generously with the chocolate frosting.

2. Then, carefully pop a chocolate nest out of a mini-muffin cup and place it on top of the cake.

3. Fill the nest with the candy eggs of your choice. Serve.

Images and Recipe via The Naptime Chef

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