Chocolate bunnies and sugar-coated marshmallow treats aside, sweet treats for Easter can come from your own kitchen. Whether you’re hosting an Easter brunch at your home or you’re joining family and friends for Easter dinner, these baked treats will add a sweet ending to your holiday celebration.

Mini Easter Basket Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 recipe Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Icing (recipe follows)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 5 drops green food coloring
  • 1 3/4 cups flaked coconut
  • 12 six-inch sour candy straws or red licorice strips, for decorating
  • Jelly beans and malted-milk eggs, for decorating
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and grated lemon zest.
  4. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  5. Divide cupcake batter evenly among liners, filling each liner about two-thirds full. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the tops spring back when touched, about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan once during baking. Transfer cupcake pans to wire rack. Cool cupcakes completely.
  6. Spread buttercream icing over the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Combine water, food coloring and coconut in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag and shake to tint coconut. Spread coconut over tops of cupcakes.
  7. Using the point of a bamboo skewer, make a hole on opposite sides of the tops of each cupcake. Insert the ends of each sour candy straw or licorice strip into the holes created on the tops of the cupcakes. Decorate tops of cupcakes with jelly beans and malted-milk eggs.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Makes 3 1/2 cups, enough for about 2 dozen cupcakes

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, 4 tablespoons milk and the vanilla extract until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the mixture, as needed, to achieve a good spreading consistency.

Babka

Makes one 9-inch babka

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups currants
  • 1 1/2 cups dark raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped slivered almonds
  1. Butter one 9-inch kugelhopf mold; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat milk until just below the boiling point. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour yeast over warm milk; set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour yeast mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in 2 cups flour; cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 8 tablespoons butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 6 egg yolks, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Mix in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 egg yolks; scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add another 1/2 cup flour and 2 egg yolks; mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add 1 cup flour and 2 egg yolks and beat to combine. Add vanilla extract, orange juice, orange and lemon zests, and yeast mixture; mix on low to combine. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Continue beating the dough on medium speed until smooth, elastic and quite soft, about 2 minutes. Up to 1 cup of flour may be added if the dough is still sticky. Add currants, dark raisins, golden raisins and almonds; mix to combine.
  4. Transfer dough to prepared kugelhopf mold. Cover mold with a piece of plastic wrap and allow dough to rise, about 60 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., with a rack in the center of the oven, 15 minutes before the dough has risen. Transfer mold to oven. Bake for 38 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester, when inserted into the middle of the babka, comes out clean. The internal temperature of the babka should be about 180 degrees F. and the babka should pull away slightly from the sides of the mold.
  6. Let babka cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn babka out onto a cooling rack and continue to cool before slicing and serving.

Recipes and photographs courtesy Michael Vyskocil

***

Looking for more sweet treats for your Easter celebration? Visit the following businesses for your Easter entertaining essentials: