The Easter Bunny may hide eggs and deliver baskets filled with goodies, but it's the cook who has to grace the Sunday table with an array of delectable desserts.
Whether you are serving brunch, lunch or dinner, guests expect something sweet that didn't come wrapped in foil or lodged inside a plastic egg.
With spring already here (let's pretend the weather agrees with this statement), desserts should come in pastel colors, from a Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake Roll to Pink Lemonade Cake.
Kids will be kept busy making pretty Easter Mints and young bakers can easily tackle delightful cookies made with cake mix called Chubby Bunnies.
And what would a spring or Easter meal be without cupcakes that taste like Dreamcicles?
So, carve the ham and serve up the meal. Just make sure you leave room for dessert.
While some novice cooks might consider a rolled sponge cake a tricky thing to make, it just takes a little practice to get it right. The real key is to not overbeat the egg whites and to take care when combining the whites with the yolks. Thanks to the whipped cream frosting on this roll, even if it cracks a little as you roll it up, no one will ever notice. This light, luscious, and not overly sweet cake is chock full of fresh fruit and is as pretty to look at as it is good to eat.
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM SPONGE CAKE ROLL
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 quart strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Whole strawberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15-by-10-inch jellyroll pan (or cookie sheet with sides) with wax paper and spray with cooking spray (cooking spray with flour in it for baking works great).
Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, beating until stiff. Fold in 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Gently fold in egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour. Spread batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes. Do not let cake brown.
Using a fine mesh strainer, sift a small amount of powdered sugar on a linen towel. Turn hot cake out onto towel. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel. Cool on a wire rack.
Combine strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar; let sit for 5 minutes. Beat whipping cream until foamy. Add 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Unroll cake. Spread cake with berries, then half of the whipped cream. Reroll cake. Place on a serving plate. Frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries. Chill until serving time. Makes 10-12 servings.
-- The Baltimore Sun
1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
1/2 cup water
15 drops red food coloring
16 red gumdrops
32 miniature semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and water; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
Reserve 1 cup plain batter. To remaining batter, stir in food coloring.
Cut a 1/4-inch hole at the corner of two food-safe plastic bags; fill one with pink batter and one with plain batter.
Using pink batter, pipe a 4-by-2-inch oval ring onto a greased baking sheet for bunny face. Pipe two ovals for ears.
Using plain batter, pipe centers for ears and cheeks for face. Pipe additional pink batter to completely fill ears and face. Repeat with remaining batters.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim off bottom ends of gumdrops; use rounded tops for noses. Add chocolate chips for eyes. Bake 4-6 minutes, or until set. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 16 bunnies.
-- Taste of Home
Orange Cream Pop Cupcakes
3 ounce package orange-flavor gelatin
Box white cake mix (two-layer size)
4-serving size package cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 recipe Cream Pop Frostings (see below)
Wooden craft sticks (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 27 (2 1/2-inch) muffin cups with foil bake cups.
Set aside 2 teaspoons of the dry gelatin mix for the Cream Pop Frostings.
In a mixing bowl, beat the remaining gelatin, cake mix, pudding mix, orange juice, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
2. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
4. Make 1 batch Cream Cheese Frosting. (See below).
Transfer one-fourth of the frosting to a small bowl; beat in another 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. You now have Vanilla Cream Pop Frosting.
To make the Orange Cream Pop Frosting, to the remaining bowl of frosting, add the reserved 2 teaspoons orange gelatin mix and 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel. If desired, add a few drops orange food coloring. Beat to combine.
5. Spoon Orange Cream Pop Frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
Spoon Vanilla Cream Pop Frosting into another pastry bag fitted with a small star tip.
Pipe orange frosting onto each cupcake to cover the top. Pipe a medium-size star of white frosting onto each cupcake. If desired, insert a crafts stick into top of each cupcake. Makes 27 (2 1/2-inch) cupcakes.
-- Better Homes & Gardens
Cream Cheese Frosting
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 1/2 to 6 cups powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.
Yield: 2 1/2 cups frosting. This frosts tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers. Halve the recipe to frost a 13x9x2-inch cake. Cover and store any frosted cake or cupcakes in the refrigerator.
Four rosy-pink layers of moist lemon cake and creamy Lemonade-Buttercream Frosting add up to one praiseworthy Easter dessert. For a colorful garnish, coat lemon slices with sugar and arrange on cake just before serving.
Pink Lemonade Cake
1 cup butter
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
Red food coloring
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 recipe Lemonade Butter Frosting (below)
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two 9x2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment; grease paper. Flour pans, tapping to remove excess; set aside. In medium bowl stir together 3-1/3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an extra-large mixing bowl beat butter with mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium until well combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat 2 minutes more. Add 1/8 tsp. red food coloring; beat to combine. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In bowl stir together milk, lemonade concentrate, and extract (mixture will look curdled). Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to butter mixture, beating on low after each addition just until combined. Remove half (4 cups) the batter; spread in one pan. In remaining batter, stir 1/4 tsp. red food coloring. Spread in second pan.
4. Bake about 35 minutes, until tops spring back when lightly touched. Meanwhile, prepare Lemonade Butter Frosting.
5. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans; peel off waxed paper. Cool completely on wire racks. Trim off domed tops of layers so cake will stand flat. Cut each layer horizontally in half, making four layers. Brush crumbs from layers.
6. Place one dark pink layer, cut-side down, on a plate. Spread 1 cup frosting just to edges. Top with a light pink layer, followed by second dark pink layer, spreading frosting on each just to edges. Stack final light pink layer, cut-side down. Spread frosting on top and sides as desired.
For evenly colored layers: add the first portion of food coloring to butter and sugar mixture before adding eggs.
Lemon Garnish: Thinly slice lemons and remove seeds. Coat with sugar then arrange on cake just before serving.
Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 (16-ounce) jars marshmallow creme
1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
In very large mixing bowl beat softened butter with mixer on medium for 30 seconds, until light and fluffy. Add marshmallow creme and lemonade concentrate. Beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl. Add powdered sugar and extract; beat until light and fluffy. (If frosting is stiff, soften in microwave no more than 10 seconds, then beat until smooth.)
Frost Pink Lemonade Cake. To store frosting, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before frosting cake. Makes 6 cups.
-- Better Homes & Gardens
A little retro and a whole lot of fun, cream cheese mints are the perfect way to keep little hands busy during Easter dinner preparations.
Make up the dough, then let the kids play around with different flavors and colors (or not, if you're trying to avoid pink and green hands). They also can form the mints in a variety of shapes. Consider making lemon mints, classic peppermints, or orange cream mints. You even could do mocha mints with coffee and chocolate extracts.
RETRO CREAM CHEESE MINTS
8-ounce block cream cheese
2 pounds powdered sugar
Flavorings or extracts of your choice
Gel food coloring (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and about a quarter of the powdered sugar. Using the dough hook, begin mixing. As the mixture comes together, add the remaining powdered sugar, a quarter at a time, mixing well between each addition. The dough also can be mixed by hand; treat it as though you are kneading bread dough. The mixture with be quite stiff.
Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the flavoring or extract of your choice. Alternatively, you can divide the dough and make multiple batches, each with a different flavor. Once the flavoring is mixed in, add food coloring, mixing until evenly colored. As with the flavoring, the mixture can be divided and different colors can be used for each batch.
Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the superfine sugar.
Press the pieces into candy molds or press with a fork or the bottom of a glass to make a decorative impression on the tops.
Place on waxed paper and allow to dry, uncovered, overnight. If keeping longer than a few days, place in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper and freeze for up to 1 month.
Makes 7 dozen, each mint with 50 calories, 1 gram fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 11 grams carbohydrates, 0 g fiber; 11 grams sugar, 10 mg sodium.
-- Associated Press