It's spring! Free your imagination and create sweet treats to surprise and delight the people you love best. Making bright and sunny cupcakes, a cake shaped like a carrot or a fancy Easter egg cookie is a great way to celebrate the new season. Even the youngest child can lend a hand--and get the giggles--when baby chick, lamb, duckling and piglet cupcakes have all kinds of hippety, hoppety adventures. Bees buzz, butterflies hover and is that Peter Rabbit hiding a basket of colorful eggs (with a surprise inside) in the carrot patch?
Welcome spring and make your family smile this Easter with fun and easy recipes using your favorite chocolates and colorful jellybeans. Be sure to stock up on seasonal pastel and other candies while they're available. Besides helping to fill Easter baskets, you'll want them to dress up desserts for all kinds of spring gatherings, from showers and graduations to garden parties.
For more spring and Easter recipes, decorating, gift ideas and activities for family fun, visit brightideas.com.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 9- by 13-inch pan with wax paper. In medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat together eggs and both sugars until well blended. Slowly add oil, milk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture to bowl, a third at a time, and beat until smooth. Fold in shredded carrots. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Cut cake once across 9-inch width to create a 9- by 10-inch piece and a 9- by 3-inch section (refer to diagram/template at www.brightideas.com/easter/pop_1631.shtml)
a. For 9- by 10-inch piece: Place small dot of frosting in center of top and bottom 9-inch edges. Then, place dot on left and right edges, 1 inch down from top edge. Carefully make 4 cuts through cake, from dot on top edge to dots on left and right, then from dots on left and right to dot on bottom edge. Discard 2 small triangles of cake resulting beside top dot.
b. For 9- by 3-inch piece: Carefully cut diagonally from top left corner to bottom right. Notch out short sides of resulting triangles to create "carrot tops" (2 stems/leaves). Discard notched-out pieces.
Roughly chop Minis for Easter, place in microwave-safe container and add heavy cream. Microwave 60 seconds. Remove and stir mixture until blended. To melt on stove, place ingredients in top half of double boiler. Place over medium high heat and slowly melt, stirring occasionally. Arrange 4-sided piece of cake (9-by 10-inch piece) on serving platter. Cover top surface with melted chocolate mixture. Gently flip 2 large triangles and arrange side-by-side on chocolate surface, aligning edges with 4-sided cake layer below. Arrange 2 "carrot tops" from the 9-by 3-inch piece on serving platter above 2-layer "carrot" (see photo). Refrigerate 15 minutes. Meanwhile, tint 1 cup vanilla frosting green and 2 cups orange. Remove cake from refrigerator and spread with very thin layer of green frosting on "stems and leaves" and orange frosting on carrot. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes. Frost cake with another layer of orange and green icing. Decorate with yellow, orange and green jellybeans. Makes 12 servings.
Surprise-Inside Egg Treats
1 bag Snickers Minis for Easter
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and oats; set aside. In second bowl, cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add flour-oat mixture, thoroughly mixing into batter. Divide batter in half, wrap in plastic, and chill 1 hour. To make each cookie, scoop off generous tablespoon of dough. Flatten slightly, and place an unwrapped Mini for Easter in center of each piece of dough, wrapping dough completely around. Shape cookie in palm of your hand, molding to resemble an oval. Transfer cookies to cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown (about 15 to 17 minutes). Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Divide frosting into quarters, and tint each a pastel color. Spoon frostings into resealable plastic bags. Cut 1 tiny, pinprick snip from corner of each bag for thin drizzle. Heat each bag 5 seconds in microwave until frosting softens slightly. Then, drizzle frosting on top of cookies in decorative pattern. Makes 28 eggs.
1 bag Snickers Minis for Easter
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 3 (12-cup) mini cupcake pans with paper liners. Roughly chop 2 cups Minis for Easter. Prepare cake mix according to package directions and fold chopped candy bars into the batter. Divide batter evenly between prepared cupcake pans. Bake 15 to 18 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Meanwhile, spoon 1/4 cup white frosting into resealable bag. Tint 1/4 cup vanilla frosting yellow and spoon into resealable bag. Tint remaining frosting green and use to cover cupcakes. Use photograph as decorating guide for cupcakes: Butterflies: Arrange 4 Peanut or Almond Chocolate Candies for Easter, as photo shows. Pipe white frosting body in center and use licorice for antennae. Bees: Place 1 Smooth Milk Chocolate Egg in center for body with 4 M&M'S for wings. Pipe zigzag line with yellow frosting over chocolate egg and use licorice for antennae. Makes 36 flyers.
8 boxes Snickers Eggs 3-Pack
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12-cup jumbo cupcake pan with paper liners. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Divide batter evenly into prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Fit one resealable bag with star tip. Divide frosting into 5 cups. Tint 4 cups: 1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 pink. Spoon green frosting into bag fitted with star tip. Spoon remaining colors into other resealable plastic bags. Snip 1 corner from each bag. Pipe frostings on top of all cupcakes and spread smooth. Sandwich 2 unwrapped chocolate eggs together with dab of vanilla frosting, creating complete egg. Make 1 complete egg for each cupcake and place on top. Use photograph as guide to decorate animals. Bunny: Dot entire egg with pink frosting. Cut marshmallow in half and flatten slightly. Sprinkle pink decorator sugar on sticky area of marshmallow. Arrange on top of egg as ears. Add 2 blue M&M'S for eyes, 1 red M&M for nose and 2 pink M&M'S for feet. Piggie: Dot entire egg with pink frosting. Arrange 2 blue M&M'S for eyes, 2 pink M&M'S for ears, 1 pink M&M for snout, 1 pink M&M for tail and 4 pink M&M'S for feet. Chickie: Dot entire egg with yellow frosting. Arrange 3 red M&M'S for comb, 2 dark M&M'S for eyes, 1 orange M&M for beak and 4 orange M&M'S for feet. Lamby: Dot entire lamb with white frosting. Arrange 1 Dove Chocolate Egg for face with 2 M&M minis for eyes. Arrange 4 M&M'S for feet. Place 2 mini marshmallow for ears. Makes 12 buddies.