My daughter’s birthday party was this past week. Originally, she was requesting a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. In my mind, that means baking and frosting a delicious cake and plunking a plastic Thomas train on top. Done. To say I am not into detailed decorating would be putting it mildly. It quickly became apparent, however, that my soon-to-be three year-old had grander plans in mind. Picture something along these lines. I knew some subtle mind-manipulation was in order. You know, where you guide them to a better decision that they feel they made all on their own? Please tell me you do this with your children.
Trader Joe’s provided the perfect inspiration. They had bags of these beautifully bright jelly beans. “Oh, Elly Bean! Look! Jelly beans! Wouldn’t that be fun for your birthday party?” I used my really-excited-voice, complete with lots of raised eyebrows, smiles, and head nods. It seemed to do the trick. She was on board with the new plan.
The cake was downsized to cupcakes for little hands (and guiltless seconds for the adults). The jelly beans were tucked into miniature chocolate egg nests resting on fluffy coconut frosting. There is no end to the fun egg-shaped candy available this time of year.
If you are looking for an Easter dessert, a spring birthday treat or, say, a boost for a weekday afternoon, I’d highly recommend adding these cupcakes to your day. Here are a few other cupcake designs that caught my eye while I was searching for inspiration:
Lollipop Cupcakes – Super easy and adorable
Nesting Baby-Bluebird Cupcakes – The birds are beyond my ability, but I could totally nail those nests
Easy Spring Chick Cupcakes – Using candy & coconut
Spring Flower Cupcakes – Kids would love creating their own designs using Easter candy
Double Coconut Cake
A Cooking Light recipe
Yields 1 double-layer cake or 24 cupcakes
This cake is slightly more dense and definitely more delicious than one out of a box. Because you are only using coconut milk, the coconut flavor is pretty subtle.
2 1/4 cup + 1 T. cake flour
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 T. vanilla extract
Fluffy Coconut Frosting (recipe below)
2/3 c. shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans or muffin tins with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon flour.
- Combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat at medium speed until well blended (for about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap the pans once on counter top to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes for cupcakes or 25-30 minutes for cakes (or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean). Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.
- Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1 cup Fluffy Coconut Frosting. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Top with remaining cake layer; spread more frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle 1/3 cup coconut over top of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.
Fluffy Coconut Frosting
A Cooking Light recipe
This is one of my family’s favorite recipes. My grandma always called it 7-Minute Frosting. I personally think it is easier to make than powdered sugar/milk frosting. Follow the directions, and it will turn out beautifully every time. Oh, and this recipe makes a ton! Not a fan of coconut? Simply substitute vanilla extract.
4 egg whites
1/2 t. cream of tartar
Dash of salt
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. coconut extract
- Place egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 238°.
- Slowly pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed. Stir in extracts.
Chow Mein Noodle Birds Nests
From Group Recipes
The original recipe I used didn’t coat the noodles as consistently as I wanted. These proportions should give you smoother-looking nests. They can be made as individual treats or used to top cupcakes. Either way, small hands will be big fans.
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate (or any flavor) chips
2 c. chow mein noodles
1 c. peanut butter (optional)
- Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.
- Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter, if using, in a microwave-safe container. Heat on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir, and repeat, until chocolate chips are melted.
- Stir in chow mein noodles until fully coated.
- Drop spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, forming a nest shape.
- Refrigerate until firm. Add peanuts or candy as eggs to the center of each nest.
Need some cute cupcake wrappers? Wilton offers a 300-pack of baking cups with various designs fit for every occasion.
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