Small-batch, flourless Easter cupcakes

This Easter marks yet another holiday where large family gatherings are ill-advised. You still want to make a special meal, but you aren’t feeding a crowd. A full-size cake seems huge and mug cake isn’t formal enough. Enter this small-batch cupcake recipe that makes eight cupcakes. You can even cut the recipe in half when baking for a couple.

Small-batch cupcakes also provide a great opportunity to discover the joy of baking from scratch. This recipe is fast, forgiving, and free of many chemicals that are included in boxed cake mix. You will taste the difference.

Cupcake recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 1 stick butter with 1/2 cup chocolate chips* in the microwave or double-boiler. If using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir until smoothly combined.

Stir in 2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar.

Beat 2 eggs and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until batter is uniform in color.

Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite extract. Choosing vanilla extract will maintain a chocolate flavor, but you can get creative. Almond, orange, and mint all pair beautifully with chocolate. Since your audience is small (and hopefully forgiving), feel free to experiment. Keep in mind that you can also add extract to your frosting to create a flavor combination.

Stir in 2/3 cup cocoa powder, careful not to over mix.

Line a muffin tin with 8 cupcake wrappers and divide batter evenly among them.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the centers are no longer glossy.

*For those with gluten sensitivities, if you use chocolate chips that do not contain gluten, this recipe is gluten-free.

Frosting Recipe

Beat 1 stick of softened butter briefly, until it is no longer the shape of a stick. To soften refrigerated or frozen butter, microwave on the lowest power setting for 30-second increments, flipping the stick over several times, until you can gently squeeze the butter and feel it give easily.

Add 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat slowly (to avoid a poof of sugar) until incorporated.

Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite extract (see above note in the cupcake recipe).

Beat on high for several minutes, until light and fluffy.

Beat in 1 Tablespoon milk or cream until fully incorporated.

Beat in up to a 1/2 cup more powdered sugar if the frosting feels too runny. You can also try beating the frosting longer for a fluffier texture.

Decorating

Spread a layer of unsweetened coconut on a toaster oven tray or cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 3-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure the coconut doesn’t burn. Pull it when the coconut turns golden brown and your kitchen smells like toasted coconut.

Use a piping bag and tip or a spatula to cover cooled cupcakes with frosting. The cupcake centers may sink, so you can fill in this space with frosting to create a flat surface.

After the coconut cools, sprinkle a generous circle onto the center of each frosted cupcake. Press your finger gently into the middle to create a “nest.”

Drop two or three round candies (chocolate eggs, M&M’s, jelly beans,) or large sprinkles into the nest as eggs.

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