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Barnyard Vanilla Cupcakes

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 55 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 24 servings
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Ingredients

Cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 

4 large eggs, at room temperature 

1/4 cup sour cream 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

3/4 cup milk 

Buttercream Icing, recipe follows

Decorations:

48 large candy eyes

24 gummy candy peaches, trimmed into even round circles, plus 6 for the ears 

12 soft black licorice sticks, trimmed into 2-inch pieces

2 cups mixed color jelly beans

2 cups mini marshmallows 

Buttercream Icing:

4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 pounds confectioners' sugar 

3 to 4 tablespoons milk 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Pink food coloring, optional (for pig cupcakes) 

Directions

Special equipment:
two 12-cup muffin tins; cupcake liners
  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract; mix to combine.
  4. Turn the speed down to low and add the flour mixture and milk in 3 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks, then decorate.
  5. To decorate: To make a cow, frost the cupcakes with white icing. Place 2 candy eyes in the center of the icing, then place a round gummy peach below the eyes. Use soft black licorice sticks to make ears and 2 jelly beans to make horns at the top of the head.
  6. To make a pig, frost the cupcakes with pink icing. Place 2 candy eyes in the center of the icing, then place a round gummy peach below the eyes. Cut a gummy peach into triangles and use 2 pink pieces for the ears.
  7. To make a sheep, frost the cupcakes with white icing. Place 2 eyes in the center of the icing. Cut a gummy peach into triangles and use 2 orange pieces for the ears. Place 1 jelly bean in the center of the cupcake below the eyes to make a nose. Place mini marshmallows all over the remainder of the icing, pressing gently to adhere.
  8. To make a chicken, frost the cupcakes with white icing. Place 2 candy eyes in the center of the icing. Place a jelly bean below the eyes for the nose and a red jelly bean at the bottom of the cupcake for the "wattle." Place 3 jelly beans in a straight line at the top of the cupcake to make the "comb" on its head.

Buttercream Icing:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the confectioners' sugar, about a cup at a time; mix until completely combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth and spreadable.
  2. Place 2 cups icing in a separate bowl and add 2 to 3 drops pink food coloring if using. Stir to incorporate.

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