From Easter egg designs in pastel colors to bright colors to celebrate spring, we've got four beautiful cupcake designs that even a novice can pull off with flair!

India Tree buttery yellow cupcakes

This quick and easy recipe by India Tree delivers buttery, yellow cupcakes that have a rustic, muffin-like texture and a slight lemony flavor.

India Tree buttery yellow cupcakes

Cupcake

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup India Tree Caster Sugar, superfine
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth.
  5. Divide the batter equally between 10 paper-cup-lined muffin cups. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean. Remove from muffin tin. Let cool completely before icing.

Creamed frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6-8 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 cups India Tree fondant and icing sugar
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons India Tree vanilla powder or liquid vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Sift the sugar, then gradually add it into the butter along with the 4 tablespoons of cream. Continue to mix after each addition until smooth. Add more cream depending upon the consistency desired for spreading or piping. Keep in mind that the addition of liquid coloring may affect consistency. If the resulting frosting is too thin, add a bit more sugar.
  3. Add the vanilla powder or extract, if desired. Mix thoroughly.
  4. To color: Add the coloring a drop at a time, mixing well after each addition, until you have achieved the desired hue. Keep in mind that the color will deepen a shade or two as it dries.
  5. To complete the decor, add a tiny shortbread cookie decorated with fondant and sprinkles. Click here for the complete recipe.

Strawberry-vanilla cupcakes with rainbow frosting

Give plain old vanilla cupcakes a spring makeover by adding a bit of fresh strawberry flavor to the batter and adding a burst of color to the frosting. Voila! — your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Rainbow cupcakes- spring

Strawberry-vanilla cupcake batter

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 
2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup sugar 

  • 2 eggs
  • 
1 cup milk
  • 
1-1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line the muffin cups with cute cupcake paper liners. 
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
 In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture and then the milk, a little at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Stir in the strawberry extract.
  6. Pour into the cupcake papers, 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely.



Vanilla buttercream frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk.
  3. Separate the frosting into 6 small ramekins and add/mix the food coloring gels until the desired rainbow colors are reached (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple... the latter of which we left off because my kids don't like purple!). You can make your rainbow bright or bold or soft and pastel. (Hint: Save a little vanilla frosting for the bird's nest decorating in the following recipe.)
  4. Using a frosting piping tool with a round nozzle, pipe one to two layers of each color on, cleaning out the piping tool/nozzle between each color.
  5. For a fun St. Patrick's Day spin, add a chocolate coin to the top of the rainbow.

Chocolate-almond cupcakes with bird's nest

Rich almond flavor make these chocolate cupcakes extra decadent. The malted chocolate robin's eggs are a crunchy bonus.

Chocolate-almond cupcakes with bird’s nest

Chocolate-almond cupcake batter

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 18 to 22 cupcake tins with papers (I used a light blue plaid pattern).
  3. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and beat until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into each liner, 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Milk chocolate frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk



Directions:

  1. 

Place the softened butter in a mixing bowl.
  2. 
Add in the cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar and milk.
  3. Blend together with an electric mixer until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
  4. Use a little reserved vanilla buttercream frosting from the rainbow cupcake recipe above.
  5. Add a small amount of green food coloring gel to achieve the mint green base of the bird's nest.
  6. Use a piping tool to create the soft ribbons on the base.
  7. For the nest, use a thin round piping fixture and the milk chocolate frosting.
  8. Top with three to four malted chocolate robin's eggs.

Lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting

Lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting

Courtney Forrester's shop Sweet Cupcakes, Inc. in Boston, serves up these elegant lemon cupcakes but you can re-create them at home with these instructions from her book, The Sweet Little Book of Cupcakes.

Lemon cupcake batter

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.
  3. Sift the cake flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  4. In an electric mixer or large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well blended.
  6. Beat in the lemon extract, blending well.
  7. Reduce speed to low, add the milk and blend well. Then add the flour mixture and beat until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan, distributing the batter equally.
  9. Bake for 8 minutes, rotate, and bake for 7 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Place the pan on a wire rack, and cool completely.

Lemon buttercream frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 vanilla bean, seeds only
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup trans fat-free vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon natural lemon flavor

Directions:

  1. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using a paring knife. Discard the husk, and set the seeds aside.
  2. In an electric mixer, or large bowl, beat the butter and vegetable shortening on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add the vanilla seeds and mix for a few seconds on medium speed.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the confectioners' sugar.
  5. Add the confectioners' sugar to the butter mixture on low speed until it begins to incorporate.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and lemon flavor, and beat at medium to high speed until fully incorporated.
  7. To do frosting as shown, use a piping bag or simply spread frosting with a knife. Top with a knotted piece of candied lemon (shown) or lemon candy dots, yellow dragees or sliced lemon gummies.

More sweet recipes

Cupcakes to go

Raspberry lemonade cupcakes
Boston cream pie cupcakes

Topics: