Why Easter Bunny Cupcakes?
With Easter is just around the corner I decided to make a special treat. I wanted to make something with the peep bunnies I had in the pantry. I thought about how bunnies pop up out of the ground like Bugs Bunny. So why not make the peep bunnies pop up out of a cupcake?
So what flavor of cupcake should I make to complement the bunnies? Well, since peeps are made of marshmallows why not make them with S’mores flavors. S’mores brings smiles to everyone’s face and during this time of “Shelter in Place” during this COVID-19 outbreak, we all can do with more smiles in our lives.
With a chocolate cupcake with extra milk chocolate inside, roasted marshmallow buttercream frosting, marshmallow bunnies and M&M’s for Easter eggs I know there will be plenty of “how cute”, smiles and lots of mouths watering for a S’mores flavored Easter Bunny Cupcakes.
Prepping Chocolate Bar
Start out by preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
To ensure proper chocolate coverage for your cupcake you need to do the following:
Take a large 4.4oz Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar and break it into individual rectangles according to the imprinted rectangles on the bar.
Break each chocolate rectangle in half.
You need to have a total of 36 pieces as each cupcake will receive a total of 3 pieces.
In a large mixing bowl add 2 tablespoons of Cocoa Power to your chocolate cake mix and combine thoroughly with a whisk. Follow the directions on your cake box for water, eggs and oil in making the batter and baking times for cupcakes.
Do not use a mixer to mix your cupcake batter. Use a whisk and beat the cake the number of strokes per your cake mix instructions. Example, 150 strokes per minute using an electric mixer. I made my cupcakes this way so they would have a muffin structure to them and they would not have as much air and rise really tall.
Place 12 of the cupcake paper into the muffin pan. Fill the cupcake papers with one scoop from the large cookie scoop. Add 3 pieces of milk chocolate individually into each cupcake and easily press down so that the batter covers the chocolate. This way every cupcake has three pieces of chocolate inside for perfect milk chocolate coverage.
After adding the chocolate you may need a little extra batter to cover the chocolate. You want your cupcake papers to be ¾ of the way full. With the extra batter you can make a couple more cupcakes or as I did a small chocolate loaf.
Bake the cupcakes according to your cake mix suggestions. Check the cupcakes approximately 5 minutes before timer rings. When the toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean remove cakes from the oven and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes are up remove cupcakes from pan and let stand on cooling rake until completely cooled.
IMPORTANT: Do not make frosting until cupcakes have completely cooled. Timing is important. Get all ingredients and tools out and ready to use before making the frosting.
Preheat oven to broil at 430 degrees. Move the rack to second place on top. Important, while the oven is heating up melt ¼ cup of butter in the non-stick sauce pan. You will be scraping the roasted marshmallows into the butter when they have finished cooking.
Place tinfoil on cookie sheet non-stick side up. Evenly spread out the marshmallows on tinfoil. Place cookie sheet into oven and continuously watch. Marshmallows will brown and puff up quickly and you must be careful not to burn them or catch them on fire.
Mine took approximately 1 to 1½ minutes but I did keep opening the door to watch them brown and keep a close eye on them. See photo of roasted marshmallows below.
Preparing Roasted Marshmallows
Once the marshmallows have browned to your liking, immediately remove them from the oven and remove the tinfoil from the cookie sheet. Using a towel to hold the tinfoil, it will be hot, start to scrape the roasted marshmallows into the center of the tinfoil.
You can do this by laying the tinfoil flat on a surface and using the back of a kitchen knife. You must do this quickly because as the roasted marshmallows cool down they become extremely sticky.
Note, you will not be able to get the entire roasted marshmallows residue off the tinfoil. Once you have all roasted marshmallows in the middle of the tinfoil, scrape it all into the melted butter. Using a heat resistant spatula stir the roasted marshmallows with the melted butter until it has combined.
If you are having problems you can turn the heat to simmer until you have the ingredients mixed together (if you have ever made rice crispy treats you will remember doing this step to melt the marshmallows and butter.)
The mixture will be lumpy because of the wonderful roasted marshmallow bits. Leave the mixture in the pan off the burner for now to keep the mixture warm and to slowly cool. Stir occasional to keep the mixture emulsified with the butter.
While waiting for the marshmallow mixture to cool down to room temperature make the buttercream frosting, cut bunny peeps and prepare the cupcakes.
Making the Buttercream Frosting
In a large mixing bowl sift the powdered sugar. I used a stainless steel strainer and spoon to push the powdered sugar through it to remove all the lumps. You need to do this because you will be making the frosting by hand and not using a mixer.
Add 1 cup of softened butter, ¼ teaspoon vanilla to powdered sugar and using a fork mix it thoroughly. Using a spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl of any powdered sugar not mixed in and use the fork to combine.
Prepping the Bunny Peeps
Take the bunny peeps out of their packaging and separate them from each other. Find the middle of the bunnies round body and cut it in the center horizontally. Do this with all 12 bunnies. The bottom half of the bunny body can be saved and eaten later mixed in with popcorn, added to Chex mix or cereal. See photo below – blue bunny’s body cut next to a whole bunny.
Prepping the Cupcakes
With a sharp knife cut a rectangle in the center of the cupcake approximately ½ inch deep. Prepare all twelve cupcakes. The bunny will be frosted on the bottom and set into the hole as if popping out of the cupcake. See photo above – hole cut into the center of the cupcake.
Completing the Frosting Mixture
The marshmallow mixture should be cooled off to room temperature. If the butter has separated from the marshmallows stir with spatula to incorporate butter back into the mixture. Using the spatula push the buttercream frosting to one side of the bowl and pour the marshmallow mixture into the bowl. Emulsify the two ingredients together.
The frosting will appear lumpy because of the bits of roasted marshmallow in the frosting. You should be able to mix the two together without any problems. If you find it too thick you can add a little bit more butter to make it come together or add ½ teaspoon of milk at a time like you would when making buttercream frosting.
I didn’t have to add anything extra to mine for it to all come together. See photo below of completed frosting.
It is important that you now frost and decorate your cupcakes. If you wait too long your frosting will start to get sticky and make it harder to frost the cupcakes. Occasionally stir the frosting between decorating the cupcakes as this will keep the frosting mixed.
Add a small amount of frosting to cover bottom of your cut bunny and insert into the hole of the cupcake. Make sure your bunny is standing up straight.
Start adding the frosting around the bunny first, cover the top of the cupcake next while working your way to the edge. See photo below – blue bunny in frosted cupcake in the first row all the way to the left.
Decorating the Cupcakes
Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs thickly around the base of the bunny. You want the bunny to look like he is popping up out of the ground. See photo above – blue bunny on right, second row.
Next add the M&M’s around the bunny and sprinkle more graham cracker crumbs all over the frosting to look like sand the bunny has pushed up out of the ground. See the below photo showing the extra graham cracker crumbs added after the M&M’s.
Final step is to place the completed cupcake into another cupcake paper, plate the cupcakes and ENJOY!