My little girl has a thing for birds. I have no idea where she gets this from, but where animals are concerned, she will deadset take feathers over fur any day of the week. So Easter for her is all about the chickens. Oh sure, she quite likes rabbits (particularly if they're made out of chocolate), but the chickens are really where it's at.
So I found these little chicken cupcakes on Martha Stewart's website, under the "Holiday Cupcakes" section, and thought they were toooo cute! I've changed what the beak, eyes, feet and feathers are made of (mine are those little hard banana lollies, currants, and raspberry licorice strap, respectively), but full credit for the idea goes to Martha...
I also rather fancied making cupcakes with little nests for candy-coated Easter eggs to sit in. I thought they'd be easy, they'd go with the chicken theme, and my daughter could get involved by putting the eggs in after I'd piped each icing nest. The frosting I used on the nests is my usual vanilla buttercream recipe (ie 125g butter, 150g icing sugar, small splash of milk, vanilla to taste), mixed 50:50 with dark chocolate ganache. Oh. My. God. (hmm... is it bad to say that at Easter??) But seriously, this was awesome - it was almost like eating chocolate mousse.
So here's what we did for the chickens:-
First we baked vanilla cupcakes, trying out Duff Goldman's recipe, as blogged about on I Heart Cuppycakes. Not sure these are my favourite cupcakes ever. My mother described their texture as "sprongy", which I thought described it surprisingly well given that it's not actually a word. The flavour isn't bad, the texture isn't bad, but I didn't find either startling. I think I'll stick to Billy Reece's Vanilla-Vanilla recipe as my go-to for now (btw I use the full 2 tablespoons of baking powder when I bake them, and I've never had the overflowing issue...)
Next, we peeled them out of their papers, and popped them upside-down onto some green cupcake papers that had been flattened out, using a little frosting to stick them on. The frosting for these started as my usual buttercream recipe, mixed with quite a lot of passionfruit butter made by my Nanna.
I then spread the same passionfruit buttercream thinly all over the cupcake's sides, finishing with a dome-shaped mound of buttercream on top. Next we sprinkled and pressed toasted coconut onto the sides & top of the buttercream to create the feathery look.
All that remained then was to poke the currants and lollies in where appropriate, to turn the cupcakes into little chickens!
A note to anyone embarking on making these with a small child: The nest cupcakes were, as anticipated, very easy to make, and very fun for a three-year-old who gets to choose the egg colours for each nest. The chicken cupcakes however, are not easy for little hands. My daughter was able to help sprinkle the coconut, and poke the beaks in with help, but that was about it. Everything else required a bit more dexterity than your average three-year-old is capable of.
Apart from that, the cupcakes were a big hit at our Easter party (although those who are familiar with my usual vanilla cupcakes - ie Billy's recipe - agreed that they preferred the usual ones over these).