Early Bird Gets the Worm

Aren't these the most adorable cupcakes EVER??

I have been in love with these baby bluebird cupcakes ever since I first saw them a few years ago on Ali's original blog, Something So Clever, and thankfully she reminded me of them again when she reposted them last year on her newest blog creation, Jam Hands.  They're perfect for Easter or just to celebrate Spring and I knew they would be the perfect thing to take along to an Easter egg hunt that I was invited to last week.  I was meeting some special people at this egg hunt and it was a very big deal to me as this was something that I have secretly wished for for a very long time and I wanted to make sure I showed up with a totally tricked out "Pleased to meet you" offering.  The cupcakes were a hit and the holiday festivities were fabulous. 

These cutie cupcakes may look complicated but they really aren't (despite this being a Martha Stewart recipe).  And honestly, there is no harm in using a box cake mix if you'd like ~ no one would know and it's really all about the presentation anyway.  I made the buttercream with half butter and half shortening as it tends to hold up better at room temperature.  Practice piping your birds and beaks on wax paper before assembling the cupcakes and then it won't take long to get these babies hatched on their nests!

Baby Bluebird Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen
Recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; scrape down bowl, and beat in vanilla.
3. Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
4. Divide batter evenly among liners, about three-quarters full each. Bake until golden and tops spring back to touch, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer pans to wire rack; cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream
Makes 2-1/2 cups

Martha says, "If you live in a warm climate or you want to display your cupcakes for an extended period of time, use half solid vegetable shortening and half butter, which will result in a more stable frosting."

When preparing the chocolate buttercream frosting, reserve 1-1/2 cups buttercream prior to adding the melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon melted chocolate for the bird eyes.

3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1. Combine sugar and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Place over a pot of simmering water; whisk until hot and sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Transfer bowl to mixer stand, and beat on high speed until cooled, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Replace whisk with paddle attachment, and set mixer on medium-high speed; add butter, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until incorporated. Beat in chocolate. If not using immediately, refrigerate buttercream in an airtight container for up to a week. Bring to room temperature, and re-beat or stir vigorously before using.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:
Makes 1 dozen

1-1/2 cups shredded coconut(about 5 ounces)
Vanilla Cupcakes
Chocolate Buttercream
Yellow and light-blue food coloring

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pan once. Set aside to cool.

2. Lightly frost cupcakes with 1 cup chocolate buttercream and top with toasted coconut; set aside. Tint 2 tablespoons reserved buttercream pale yellow; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #349 Ateco leaf tip; set aside. Tint remaining buttercream light blue; place in a pastry bag fitted with a #11 Ateco plain round tip, and pipe three bluebird heads, 3/4 inch in diameter, onto each cupcake. Using leaf tip, pipe yellow beaks. With a toothpick, add melted-chocolate eyes.

Source: MarthaStewart.com



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