These Easter cupcakes are everything I want in a treat this time of year, bringing together a trifecta of lemon, marshmallow, and whimsy. The citrus cake is bright and perfectly tart, the ideal foil to a fluffy, sweet marshmallow buttercream. Citrus and candy both make these cupcakes feel right for Easter, but the coconut "grass" and jelly beans take the theme to the top.
Since the cupcakes already have a lot going on, I avoided selecting a cupcake liner color by forgoing liners altogether. By spraying the muffin tin with PAM Baking Spray, which leaves *99% less residue than leading brands of margarine or bargain-brand cooking sprays, the cupcakes popped right out and left almost nothing to clean.
While the candy topping is a nice surprise for kids (and adults, too!), little ones can also help with this part. Small hands can assemble coconut nests and fill them with their favorite jelly bean eggs, making these lemon cupcakes a holiday treat and activity.
Lemon Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
for the lemon cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest (about 1 lemon's worth)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon's worth)
1/3 cup whole milk
PAM Baking Spray
for the marshmallow frosting:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 - 7 1/2 ounce jar marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
1/2 cup whole milk
Sweetened, shredded coconut, tinted green (I used these instructions) and jelly beans, for decorating
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with PAM Baking Spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the vanilla then eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated. Add half the flour mixture, followed by the lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk, and then the remaining half of the flour mixture, beating until each addition is just incorporated.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups (a scant 1/4 cup each). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cupcakes just begin to pull away from the edges of the pan, 15-17 minutes. Stand 10 minutes before flipping the cupcakes onto a cooling rack, and cool fully before frosting.
While the cupcakes cool, making the frosting. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the marshmallow cream and whisk on medium-high until incorporated and fluffy, another 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk on low to warm up the milk. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then resume whisking, increasing the speed to medium-high to incorporate the liquid. The frosting may look broken at this point, but continue whisking until the frosting comes together, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed. Increase the speed to high for one minute.
Top each cooled cupcake with frosting and sprinkle with coconut. Make a small well in the middle of the coconut topping and fill with jelly beans.
* Versus leading cooking sprays (except olive oil), after spraying on glass bakeware, baking at 400°F for 30 min, cooling, and then washing in standard home dishwasher with detergent and repeating 4 times