I am thankful for a beautiful Easter Sunday spent with family and friends. When there is a holiday at my house, you can rest assured there is no shortage of food! We did right by brunch this year with: baked honey ham, classic dinnervine deviled eggs, a batch of Easter egg potato salad, and if that wasn’t enough . . . it was on to the sweet stuff. This spring holiday surrounds us with candies in every store, basket & plastic egg. From vibrant jelly beans to the ever-loved Cadbury crème eggs, I can’t help but indulge in a candy or two. I wanted to make a fitting dessert for the day, and had just the idea in mind, involving one little yellow marshmallow bird! I was recently gifted an awesome cookbook, Atlanta Kitchens, Recipes From Atlanta’s Best Restaurants by Krista Reese. Being that I am from Atlanta (and love many Southern classics) it was perfect timing to try a traditional dessert from this great book—enter coconut cake. I decided to adapt this one into festive Easter Peep Coconut Cupcakes. Not only does this one taste good, but it looks about as Easter-worthy as we can get (well, minus dressing-up like the Bunny— that’s always awkward).
Now onto the Peep show!
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ¾ cup pineapple juice
- 1 banana (small, very ripe), chopped
- 1.5 tsp coconut extract
- ½ can evaporated milk (12 oz can)
- ½ can condensed milk (14 oz, I used sweetened)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tub Cool Whip, defrosted (8 oz)
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 stick butter, softened to room temp (1/2 cup)
- 8 oz confectioner's sugar
- 1-2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened (for garnish)
- green food coloring (for coloring shredded coconut like grass nests)
- 2 packages Peeps marshmallow candy birds (yellow, 6 Peeps/box)
- jelly beans, for garnish
- festive cupcake liners for baking!
- Preheat oven according to boxed cake directions (in my case for cupcakes, 350 degrees)
- Prepare cake pan(s), (In this case cupcakes, using liners).
- Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, pineapple juice, banana & coconut extract in bowl of electric mixer.
- Beat for 3 minutes on medium.
- Pour into pan(s) and bake according to package (In our case about 21 mins, when toothpick comes out clean).
- Meanwhile, in pot on stove mix milk & vanilla on very low just to combine, set aside.
- When cake is finished baking, remove from oven and poke holes with toothpick, carefully pouring a little of condensed milk mix over top to absorb into holes. (I would skip adding the milk mix when making cupcakes however, because become overly sticky).
- Let cakes cool on rack in pan(s).
- In bowl of mixer combine Cool Whip, softened butter, sugar, coconut extract and beat until smooth,
- (At this point I chilled the frosting for about 20 mins to firm-up, better for decorating cakes).
- In a small bowl, combine ~1/4 cup shredded coconut with ~3 drops of green food coloring, stirring to coat and color coconut into ‘grass’ for nests.
- Frost each cupcake and then top with a little of the coconut “grass.'
- To this add one yellow Peep on top, and a few jelly bean eggs for decor!
I added more coconut extract to our batch and used cupcake pans versus a 9×13. I think they turned out very tasty, but would skip the extra step of adding a condensed milk mixture onto the finished, pre-frosted cake. It surely didn’t hurt any, but I felt it didn’t add much to this in a cupcake version and it was sticky! Though, if I do this cake in a 9×13 though, I will try that step again. The decor is up to you, but I liked to glitter these guys up with some shredded coconut nests, candy eggs, and the star of our presentation—the most interesting marshmallow bird in the World.
I hope your Easter weekend was full of good times, food, and maybe even a Peep or two.