Happy Sunday from the our little spring break corner of the world where we are winding up for Easter. We spent the week mostly at home, aside from a few glorious days that we stayed at the lake with friends. It was a quiet break, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, particular since spring is upon us. I’m mentally gearing up for the weeks ahead: Easter, birthdays, end of school year, and then… summer? Honestly, I have no idea where the time goes. For now, let’s stick with talking about Easter and these mini egg brownies.
If you ask me, Easter is the unsung hero of holidays. Maybe it’s my love of florals and pastel prints. Maybe it’s the memory of swirling colored Easter eggs in my Mimi’s teacups. Or maybe it’s my undying dedication to chocolate-shaped bunnies, Starburst Jellybeans, and the straight-up magic that is resurrection Sunday. Either way, Easter is a win for all the humans in our house, particularly when it comes to all the delicious treats. Today, I’m sharing these mini egg brownies, which are equal parts cute and yummy. If you’ve been looking for the perfect grab-and-go Easter dessert, these just might be the ticket!
Mini Egg Brownies
So, you guys have had Cadbury Mini Eggs, right? Aside from the real-deal Cadbury eggs, the mini egg candies are the single chocolate candy I get most excited about at Easter. The crisp candy shell, the soft pastel hue, and the seriously milky chocolate centers are absolutely to die for. So, logically, if one is trying to make a festive brownie for Easter, Cadbury Mini Eggs are the place to start.
To make these brownies, we start with a perfect brownie base recipe. My go-to chewy brownie recipe rivals even the best box mixes and comes together in less than five minutes. Once the batter is prepared, just chop (or crush!) up some mini eggs and fold them into the batter. I pressed a few egg pieces on the top to make sure that pretty color showed up too. The end result is a delightful chocolate treat with spring vibes to boot- truly a win-win.
Give these mini egg brownies a try and let me know what you think! Happy baking to you and Happy Sunday!
If you like these mini egg brownies you should try:
These mini egg brownies are homemade chewy chocolate brownies loaded with pastel Cadbury mini egg candies- perfect for Easter!
Total Time:40 minutes
½ cup unsalted butter, diced
1–1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini eggs, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farhenheit. Lightly grease a heavy weight 8” square baking pan and set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and sugar and melt in the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. (It took me about 2 minutes of microwaving.) Alternatively, you can melt these together over a double boiler on the stove. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously to combine. Add the flour, cocoa powder, , salt, and baking powder. Stir, just until combined. Fold in the chopped mini eggs and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is puffed and a toothpick inserted to the center only comes out with moist sticky clumps. Allow to cool prior to cutting.
Did you enter this period of quarantine with some butter and a hint of creativity? I’m really hoping so, because today I have a festive and kid-friendly Easter cookie tutorial that you will love. These chocolate cutout cookies are fairly simple and a great recipe to get your feet wet in the decorating arena with. If you have some free time this week (and let’s be honest, a lot of us have TONS lately), this is definitely a treat worth trying out.
Have you seen all the jokes on social media about Quarantine Karen? They basically poke fun at the overachieving Moms who are doing ALL THE THINGS with their kids while out of school during this time. The jokes are comical and rolls eyes at the excessive crafts, homeschooling rituals, and Super Mom tendencies that are emerging in the thick of all this home togetherness. The basic gist is that a handful of humans out there are really thriving in the home while there are others seriously struggling.
Memes and jokes aside, I want to let you know that it’s okay to be exactly who you are in this season. If you’re really struggling at home- maybe you’re buried under schoolwork, stressed under the circumstances, feeling lonely, or slowly going insane with a handful or stir-crazy kids- it’s okay. You can be exactly who you are in this moment, and you’re allowed to grieve and process this new normal in a way that feels healthy for you.
“It’s ok to be exactly who you are in this season.”
On the other hand, if there is grace in your life right now to create and play and achieve and thrive in this season, embrace that too. You don’t need to shrink back or make yourself smaller because an internet full of memes is telling your personality or abilities are just way too much. You be you. We all have grace in our life for different seasons and settings, and it’s okay to flourish in some and be vulnerably in process in others. Make room for yourself, your friends, and the people you rub shoulders with on social media to be exactly who they are, and remember to be kind- to others and especially to yourself. You’re enough exactly how you are.
Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Some of you looking at this recipe for chocolate cutout cookies are already overwhelmed. Like, whose kids are going to cooperate in making decorated cookies at a time like this? Others are like, “YES! A new project!” Either way, please keep reading and consider making these. Granted, any cutout cookie is a bit of production, but these are about as simple as they can get. Lots of reward for the moderate amount of effort they require.
To make these chocolate cutout cookies, we start with a dough. Sugar and cold butter (yep, no softened butter needed here!) whips away in a stand mixer until the mixture comes together in a smooth consistency. Next comes eggs, vanilla, and the dry ingredients. Cocoa powder gives these chocolate cutout cookies their hint of flavor, which is overall not too rich and very kid-friendly. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and trim out shapes using cookie cutters, biscuit cutters, whatever. I didn’t have an egg cookie cutter, but I did have one shaped like a balloon, so I just accommodated. Don’t feel like these must be perfectly egg-shaped- little circles are just as cute.
Frosting the Cookies
After baking the cookies, stir together the icing and add color to it. I use Americolor food gels, but whatever you have on hand would be okay. Frosting consistency is the single more important factor in making a really pretty cookie; be sure to pay close attention to the instructions there. My kids like to “paint” these cookies with some paintbrushes I have specifically for baking. If you don’t have any unused paintbrushes on hand, just squirt the icing in the center of the cookie. Then, spread it out with a small knife or spoon while it’s still wet. Get creative and know that it’s really okay if they’re not perfect.
For the splatter, stir cocoa powder and vanilla extract into a slurry. Fling at the cookie using a little pastry or basting brush. Pro tip: cover your work surface with wax or parchment paper before you do this. Otherwise, you’ll be scrubbing little specks of cocoa powder off of EVERYTHING. These chocolate cutout cookies are the happiest little treats for this time of year, and I really hope you’ll consider making them.
If you’re more interested in a traditional vanilla cookie, check out my favorite recipe here. Finally, on the off-chance that you’re reading about this recipe on the day I’m first sharing it, head over to my IG where I’ll be making them in my IG Stories. My friends at Winn-Dixie asked if I would show you all how to make them, so there’s going to be a little tutorial (kids included!) this afternoon. Happy baking and all my love to y’all. See you next week!
If you like these chocolate cutout cookies you should try:
These chocolate cutout cookies are soft and sweet and really simply to make at home. No royal icing required! Learn how to speckle the cookies like Easter eggs here too!
Yield:About 40 Small Cookies
For the cookies:
2–1/2 (350 gm) cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup malt chocolate powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (230 gm) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces.
1 cup (200 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the icing
3 cups powdered sugar
3–6 tablespoons of whole milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the splatter:
1/2 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1–1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, plus more as needed
To prepare the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and extract and cream until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir on low just until combined.
Dump the dough crumbles out on to a lightly floured surface and work together into one ball with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to just over 1/4″ thicken and use a medium sized cookie cutter to cut shapes. If the dough ever gets too soft, refrigerate briefly.
Place shapes on a baking sheet and freeze briefly for about 5 minutes.
Once chilled, bake in the preheated oven for 10-11 minutes, or until the edges are set, and cool on a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely prior to icing.
For the icing:
Sift or whisk powdered sugar to remove lumps.
Add 3 tablespoons of the milk and the extract, whisking until combined. Continue to add milk until it is the right viscosity. You will want thicker frosting for piping. To test viscosity, run your whisk or a knife through the bowl of frosting- your frosting should slowly move back together until you can’t see any trace of the whisk any longer. This process should take about 10 seconds. If the frosting is too thick, it will not pool back together, and if it is too thin, it will pool back together too quickly. The ten second test doesn’t lie. Add more milk for a thinner icing and more powdered sugar if your icing becomes too thin.
Cover tightly in a tupperware or with a wet paper towel if you are not using it immediately, as frosting will dry out and become clumpy. Whisk occasionally and add more milk if it becomes too thick.
Fill piping bag halfway with sugar cookie frosting. Pipe borders around cookies, being careful to not get too close to the edge. Using a paint brush, “paint” frosting into the center of the cookie, filling in to the outside border. (For a good tutorial on this method, check out the Ina Garten video here) I typically will border and fill 4-5 cookies at a time. Continue this process until all the cookies are iced. Set aside for 3 hours, or until icing is set and dry. If you’re in a humid climate, you can use a small fan pointed at the cookies to help expedite this process.
To splatter your cookies:
In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder and the vanilla extract until a thin, watery slurry comes together.
Hold your paint brush or natural bristle pastry brush at the base of the bristles. Squeeze, applying a small amount of pressure with your fingers to fan the brush slightly. Dip the tips of the brush in the cocoa/vanilla “paint” and find a spare corner of your covered work space to practice your splatter. While continuing to fan your brush with one hand, use the fingers of your other hand to lightly pull back the bristles and release. This will be a slingshot type of movement and will result in a splatter effect on your work surface. Once you’re confident with your speckling skills, move on to the cookies! Splatter away and allow to dry before storing.
This past week, my great grandmother (I called her Grandma Grape) passed away. She was 97 and lived a beautiful life- one marked by kindness and joy, wisdom and love. Since her passing, I’ve found myself quietly inspired, desperately wanting a similar kind of grace on my life. Somehow, knowing that it’s possible to live and die as beautifully as she did fills me with so much hope.
I’m sure you know people like this- the ones that make it count. People who use up their lives and time and every last bit of air in their lungs to make the world around them a better place. People that love their families fiercely and spur on their neighbors towards goodness. People that change the atmosphere. These are the ones who leave a legacy worth remembering.
My Sweet Grandma
My sweet Grandma Grape was one of them. Though I won’t see her earthy body any longer, I know I will catch glimpses of her life in the lives of the women who came after her. I see her warmth and benevolence in my beautiful Nana. Her faith and grace in the peacefulness of my Mother. I see her spunk and playfulness in the laughter of my own daughter. The lasting effect of the beauty she created on this earth will continue to make waves throughout generations to come, and it’s a concept so lovely and full of possibility that my heart can’t help but be encouraged.
If you know somebody who is making this kind of a difference, I would challenge you to rise to the occassion and tell them. Give them a call, a hug, or even use this free letter template to write it out with pen. Don’t let the opportunity to be intentional with the people you love pass you by.
I, for one, have a renewed resolve to make it count. I want to be a human worth remembering and to be a person that spends their life on the cause in their heart for the people around them. The glimmer of hope from great grandmother’s legacy tells me that it’s possible… So that’s the new goal.
Carrot Bundt Cake
This carrot bundt cake is right for the times. It feels comforting and familiar- like a cake my grandmother and the women who came before her might have made. And with Easter just around the corner, a cake like this needs no excuse for making.
The recipe for this carrot bundt cake was adapted from Paula Deen, the queen of Southern heirloom recipes herself. This cake has a dense but tender crumb, kept extra moist from the addition of several eggs, oil, and finely grated carrots. Though the warmly flavored cake ordinarily steals the show in similar recipes, here, the brown butter glaze is the star. Nutty, buttery, and just barely sweet enough to make the carrot bundt cake worthy of the title “dessert”, this brown butter glaze is delicious and dangerously tempting to eat straight from a bowl with a spoon. (Update: for help on browning butter, see my post here!)
Making the Cake
The preparation for this bundt cake is rather simple. You’ll need some muscle to peel and grate the carrots, but from there, it’s a one bowl situation that requires nothing more than a mixer and a finger to lick the bowl with. This recipe will prepare enough batter to fill a 10-cup bundt pan, but you can use a larger 15-cup pan like I did with no problem. If you lack a bundt pan large enough, just fill the pans you have no more than 3/4 of the way full and pour remaining batter into additional pans. This recipe will produce enough batter to fill approximately 3-8″ round cake pans, so if you’d prefer to make the cake that way, you certainly can, however, keep in mind that baking time will change.
If you need a soul-comforting recipe to share with people you love, this carrot bundt cake is just the thing. There’s a number of other Easter-worthy recipes in the blog archives, so be sure to check out a few that I’ve bookmarked below. I hope your week is filled with lots of joy, and if you need encouragement to make it through, please contact me via the comments section below or by email on the “About Me” page of this blog. This Sunday is the most hopeful day of my year and I’d love to share it with you. Happy baking and cheers to you!
If you like this carrot bundt cake, you may also like:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan with at least 10 cup capacity.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed (I use number 4 setting on my stand mixer) for 2 minutes. Add the flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir just until barely combined. Fold in the carrots. Pour the mixture into the bundt pan. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely if you want the frosting to drizzle evenly.
To prepare the brown butter frosting
Add the cubed butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted to ensure that it melts evenly. Once the butter has melted, it will begin to bubble.Continue to stir regularly. Small golden flecks will begin to form on the bottom of the pan. Stir or whisk gently continuously at this point as the butter is beginning to brown. The bubbling should subside at this point and you should notice the butter takes on a golden tint and begins to smell nutty. Do not let it burn, but stir until golden brown and then whisk the mixture into a medium sized bowl to cool slightly.
Once slightly cooled, about 5 minutes, add the sugar and salt, whisking to slightly combine. Add a tablespoon of milk, and continue to add small amounts until the mixture is the right consistency. I like my glaze a bit thicker so that it drizzles nicely on the sides of the cake. To test for this viscosity, drag your whisk through the mixture- the line in the mixture should come back together almost completely in about ten seconds. Pour the glaze over the cake.
I like to use a finely grated carrot so that it evenly disperses in the cake and stays extra moist. Do not use store-bought pre-shredded carrots.
You can also bake this cake in round cake pans (3). Baking time will differ.
If your brown butter frosting sets out for too long it will start to crust over. Heat for 5-10 seconds in the microwave and whisk to prepare it for the cake again.
If you burn your butter, pour out and start again! There are great videos on Youtube on browning butter.
For help on browning butter, see my post here: http://thewoodandspoon.com/you-need-to-know-how-to-brown-butter/
About one year ago, almost to the day, I made the decision to be more intentional on social media as a means of determining if blogging and putting myself out there on the interwebz was something I was ready to do. About two weeks into this experiment, I made an Easter cake, speckled to look like a robin’s egg, topped with little nests of swirled chocolate buttercream, and studded with leftover jelly beans from Aimee’s first Easter basket. (Shameless shout out to other moms who buy candy “for their kids” that just so happens to be their own favorite varieties and wind up hiding in the secret, “mom’s only” corner of the pantry. I feel you.) The cake was adorable and because I was pretty excited about it, I posted a photo on Instagram. Imagine my surprise when, hours later, Food and Wine magazine re-posted the photo. MY photo. I found myself victory dancing in the living room, high-fiving my husband, and with a new batch of Insta-followers. To me, that Easter cake was a moment of much needed confirmation that I was to continue forward.
Since then, I’ve had a lot of people ask how to make that humble little cake, so in honor of Easter, you’re going to get a fancy little tutorial today. This Easter cake is fairly simple and is a perfect excuse to get messy in the kitchen. If you have kiddos, or if you just share my affinity for pretending to be artsy in the kitchen while simultaneously stuffing your face with Easter candy, this cake is for you! Little ones can help with the speckling and will love the opportunity to sneak a jelly bean or a lick of the frosting bowl. Be warned that this process can get a little messy, so be sure to protect your work space with newspaper, wax paper, or old t-shirts of your husband’s that you secretly want to make disappear.
This Easter cake is one I plan to make for years to come and seems like a brilliant tradition to start with my family in the kitchen. My babies aren’t even old enough to say the words “Easter Cake”, but I’m eager to make memories with them on special holidays. If you have any traditions or recipes you like to share with your family during this holiday, I’d love to hear about it below in the comments section!
Happy Easter and Happy Baking!
To make the Easter cake, you’ll need:
One baked cake (I used a 2 layer, six inch cake in a lemon poppyseed flavor which will be coming to the blog soon. You can try this recipe if you’re looking for a no-fail cake recipe)
3 cups of frosting, divided
Light blue gel food coloring
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
M&M’S Eggs, Jelly Beans, Cadbury Mini Eggs, or any other bean/egg shaped candy
Tools you’ll need:
News or wax paper to cover your work space
A clean, unused paint brush or a natural bristle pastry brush
Piping bag fitted with a 1M tip
Set aside 1 cup of frosting.
In a bowl, add a small drop of light blue food coloring to the remaining two cups of frosting. A little goes a long way, so add slowly. Once your frosting it too dark, there’s no going back! Also, keep in mind that the frosting will darken as it sets.
Fill and frost your cake. I like to smooth my cakes with an off-set spatula like this , but a butter knife will do the trick!
In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder and the vanilla extract until a thin, watery slurry comes together.
Set your unfrosted cake on a clean, covered work surface. Do no speckle close to anything you can’t easily wipe down with a wet rag- things are about to get messy!
Hold your paint brush or natural bristle pastry brush at the base of the bristles. Squeeze, applying a small amount of pressure with your fingers to fan the brush slightly. Dip the tips of the brush in the cocoa/vanilla “paint” and find a spare corner of your covered work space to practice your splatter. While continuing to fan your brush with one hand, use the fingers of your other hand to lightly pull back the bristles and release. This will be a slingshot type of movement and will result in a splatter effect on your work surface. Once you’re confident with your speckling skills, move on to the cake! I start with the sides of the cake and finish with the top.
Mix your remaining cup of frosting with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Add a small amount of water, if needed, until frosting is piping consistency. In my experience, a medium consistency frosting works best here and can best be described as frosting that, when peaked, will droop slightly without collapsing back into the blow.
Fill piping bag with this frosting and pipe away! I did simple swirls but you can get as fancy as you’d like.