Easter Cupcakes

These cute little vanilla cupcakes are decorated using a 234 tip to pipe buttercream grass with Cadbury’s Mini Eggs.  They are a good alternative to the more traditional Easter chocolate nest cakes made with cornflakes or Rice Krispies.

Easter cupcakes

Ingredients:
180g Butter at room temperature
180g Self-raising flour
180g Caster sugar
1tsp Vanilla extract
3 Extra-large eggs

To decorate:
250g Butter at room temperature
500g Icing sugar – sieved
1tsp Vanilla extract
Green food colouring – enough to turn the buttercream grass green!
Cadbury’s Mini Eggs
Sugar flowers to decorate

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Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and line a bun tray with 12 paper cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  I made mine in a stand mixer, but a wooden spoon will do just fine.

Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully mixed in before adding the next one. Then add the vanilla and stir in the flour until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for 12-15 minutes.  They will be a light golden colour and a toothpick should come out clean when they are baked.

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Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate, whip the butter and icing sugar together until fluffy.  Add the vanilla and then the green food colouring.  I used a gel colour and quite a lot of it before it took on a grass colour!

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Pile the frosting into a piping bag, fitted with a number 234 tip and pipe the grass onto each cake.  I’m not great at piping, but it doesn’t have to look like a manicured lawn, it’s just for fun and the frosting is really a vehicle for the mini eggs and sugar flowers.

Easter cupcake

They are so pretty when finished and look just like Spring – even if it’s grey, wet and cold outside!  Add a fluffy chick or two and they are just the thing for Easter.

Choux Buns filled with Orange Crème Pâtissière

My youngest son William and I popped out shopping when he was on half term holidays recently and he asked if we could buy some pizza.  He was just choosing one when the lady in the shop asked if we wanted to get a meal deal which included a dessert option.  Of course we then found ourselves choosing one of those too.

We went for some little profiteroles with a white chocolate topping that looked pretty ordinary, but how wrong we were!  Absolutely delicious!  The insides were full of orange flavoured cream and I decided there and then to try and recreate at home.

These were going to be topped with white chocolate too, but when I came to melt my chocolate, I discovered my oldest son Sam had eaten it all!  Luckily enough, I had some dark chocolate and so we had a last minute recipe change which worked out really well.

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Pâte à choux buns:
250ml/9floz water
110g/4oz cold butter – diced
1 tsp caster/superfine sugar
150g/5oz plain/all-purpose
4 large eggs

Orange Crème Pâtissière:
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped out
300ml/11floz whole milk
2 large egg yolks
75g/3oz caster/superfine sugar
20g/¾oz corn flour
300ml/11floz heavy/double cream
Zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
1tbs Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract

Topping:
200g/6oz of good quality dark or white chocolate
60ml/2floz heavy/double cream

Method:
Start with the crème pâtissière and mix together the egg yolks sugar and cornflour in a heatproof bowl.

Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk and heat to bring up to a boil, taking care not to let it boil over. Remove from the heat and add to the eggs and sugar, whisking well.

Return to the pan and bring to a full boil, whisking all the time. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Remove the vanilla pod and squeeze out any remaining precious seeds.

Place the cream, zest and orange extract into a bowl and whisk into soft peaks. Fold into the orange custard and place into a piping bag fitted with a small attachment and refrigerate until needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and prepare a lined baking sheet

Heat the butter, water and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil. Keeping the heat on low to medium, add the flour all in one go and beat with a wooden spoon until completely smooth and coming away from the side of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for one minute. You want the mixture to have cooled enough to add the eggs without scrambling them.

On medium speed add the eggs one at a time and carry on beating until thoroughly mixed.  The dough will be shiny and smooth.

While the dough is still warm, place into a piping bag with a large plain tip.

Pipe small mounds onto the lined sheet – at this point, you can go small for profiteroles or a little larger for buns. Use a wet fingertip to press down any pointed bits as they will burn.

Bake the buns for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F and continue to bake for about 15 more minutes until they are light and a lovely golden brown colour. Switch off the oven.

profiterole

Take them out and pierce a small hole with a sharp knife in the base of each one to allow the steam to escape and place each one on its side and return to the oven for a final 5 minutes to crisp up.

Place on their sides on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. They must be completely cold before you fill them.

To serve, melt the chocolate. I normally do this in the microwave as it is less likely to seize. Heat the broken up chocolate on high for around a minute and stir well, keep heating for 10 seconds and stirring until almost melted. The residual heat will continue to melt the remaining solid pieces. Add the cream and stir well

Pipe the delicious, zesty orange crème pâtissière into the profiteroles through the little hole in the bottom and dip in the warm chocolate sauce.

You can serve right away, or refrigerate for an hour or two. I actually prefer them quite cold and think they are perfect for a summer dessert.

profiterole1

Try not to eat too many!