Weekend Mashup: Cherry Blossoms, Cupcakes & Egg Hunt

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Spring and Easter season have the best colors!  The pretty pastels in pink, yellow, blue, the cute little bunnies, eggs, and chicks; flowers blooming, and the world waking from a winter slumber.  It’s definitely one of my favorite time of year.  I had heard there were pretty cherry blossoms at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park during March and April and I had been wanting to see them.  So our family took a trip out to see some pretty cherry blossoms Saturday morning, but I was disappointed.  I saw one fully bloomed, beautiful cherry blossom tree at the entrance of the garden and didn’t see any more inside.  The garden is really beautifully landscaped and we still had a good time taking photos, walking around the garden and watching the Koi in the pond, but I had envisioned paths strewn with cherry blossom petals that fluttered down from the branches throughout the garden.  Perhaps I need to go later in April or take a trip out to Japan!  (or a reality check)

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I had the privilege of taking dessert to a friend’s Easter egg hunt at her beautiful home over the weekend.  Her home had the perfect layout for hiding eggs and a nice size grass lot for the kids to run off all their sugar and play games like egg toss, egg-on-a-spoon-race, and more.  I know my kids had a blast and my youngest, C, who is not yet 3, participated in all the games.  It was fun watching her balance an egg on her spoon.

As you probably know, I enjoy baking and constructing layered cakes (eating them too!) but there’s something about pretty cupcakes, frosted and decorated in soft pastels that really make me happy.  I can’t look at one without eating them, which is why I get into trouble whenever I bake these little morsels of heaven.  I had been wanting to eat coconut cake, given it’s Easter season, so of course I thought I would make coconut cupcakes!  I love coconut, but I know not everyone is a fan, like my daughter A, who can’t stand anything coconut and banana.  Still can’t figure out why… they’re so tasty.  To make her happy, I added sprinkles on some cupcakes and only added shredded coconut on half of the batch.  I tried to make bunny ears with marshmallows like I’d seen on Pinterest, but they looked a bit awkward on the mini cupcakes.  I had recruited help from B and A to make the marshmallow bunny ears, but I didn’t use most of them.  Now they’re sitting in a container on my counter and getting snacked on every time I enter the kitchen.  I should probably move them to the back of my highest cabinet.

IMG_0221 Awkward on the mini cupcakes…

I used my go-to yellow cupcake recipe which uses cake flour and sour cream and replaces half of the vanilla extract called for in the original recipe with almond extract.  I did the same to the cream cheese frosting recipe and added almond extract so it would compliment the coconut nicely.  Perhaps it’s the cake flour or perhaps it’s the sour cream, but this recipe produces soft, moist, almost melt in your mouth cupcakes.

Yield: a dozen regular cupcakes or 40+ mini cupcakes

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Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar (I usually add 2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare a mini muffin pan by greasing the cavities or inserting cupcake liners. (You may also use regular size muffin pans, see below for longer baking time)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light.  Add one egg at a time and then add vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then half of the sour cream and repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake mini cupcakes for 12-14 mins.  Bake regular size cupcakes for 20-25 mins.
  5. Let cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Almond Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer  or a handheld mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts and beat until smooth.
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • pastel colored sprinkles

After the cupcakes have cooled, use a butter knife or a small spatula to frost the cupcakes (or you can pipe) then top with shredded coconut or sprinkles.  I like using the shredded coconut for this rather than the flaked ones.  (They look better)

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Happy Baking and thank you for reading!

-Flora

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