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Easter Carrot Cupcakes with Chocolate Eggs and Nest

by Lily
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Delicious soft cupcakes baked with freshly grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and crunchy toasted walnuts. Each cupcake is iced with cream cheese frosting and decorated with an easy homemade chocolate bird’s nest that is topped with mini chocolate eggs. A perfect treat for Easter! 

How adorable are these cupcakes?! No special tools are needed to make these cute treats! All you need are your cupcake pan & liners, dinner spoons & teaspoons, and plastic zip-top bags. The cake batter is made by hand, so you will not need a mixer. Believe it or not, the chocolate nests are made using melted chocolate drizzled onto a spoon. I used Hershey’s Eggies milk chocolate eggs to decorate each nest as the ‘bird eggs’. Get your kiddos involved for a fun Easter family bonding time!

*Good To Know*

  • How many cupcakes does this recipe yield?
    It depends on the height of your cupcake liners. I used fluted liners that had a dimension of 1.25-inch height and a 3-inch diameter, resulting in 21 cupcakes. If you use cupcake liners with a 2-inch height or more, you will have a lesser amount made.
  • Fresh or canned pineapples?
    The pineapple juice and pulp replace the need to use too much oil to soften the carrot cake. If you are using fresh pineapples you can crush, grate, or blend them in a food processor. I used fresh pineapples and grated them through a large cheese grater. For canned pineapples, drain them first, then use one of the methods mentioned earlier.
  • What is the scoop & scrape method?
    You may have heard of the “scoop and scrape” method before. Scoop flour into a measuring cup and scrape (or sweep) with the back of a butter knife excess flour away from the surface. This should give you precise flour measurements each time (instead of shaking your measuring cup). Do not pack flour into your cup like you would with brown sugar. Flour has air in it and if you pack it into your cup, it will end up measuring more flour than you need for your recipe.

Ingredients you will need:

For the carrot cupcakes

  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground ginger
  • ground nutmeg
  • brown sugar – my go to sweetener for cakes as it helps add moisture to the cake more than white sugar does
  • eggs (room temperature)
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • fresh or canned pineapple – adds moisture to the cake and elevates the cake flavour
  • carrots
  • walnuts – I toasted the walnuts for depth of flavour and crunch

For the frosting

  • cream cheese block (room temperature) – I prefer the Philadelphia brand with 31% M.F. for texture and flavour
  • unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • salt
  • vanilla extract
  • icing sugar

For the decoration

Bake the carrot cupcakes ahead of time

If you are making these cupcakes for Easter dinner, I recommend you bake the cupcakes the night before. This will save you time by making them ahead, and it also gives the cupcakes a chance to cool and develop more flavour overnight. You can keep them in an airtight container (once they have cooled) and decorate them on the day of the dinner.

Tip

  • Pineapples add great flavour and moisture to these cupcakes. If you are not a fan or do not have any on hand, omit the pineapples. You can replace it by adding 1/2 cup vegetable oil (instead of 1/4 cup) to this recipe

How to make carrot cupcakes

Whisk together all of your dry ingredients; except for the brown sugar,  into a large bowl (AP flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg). 

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk brown sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs until smooth, and most of the sugar is dissolved. Then whisk in crushed pineapple and grated carrots.

Add half of the flour mix into the batter and whisk until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Lastly, fold chopped toasted walnuts into the batter with a spatula…you got it…until just combined! You do not want to overmix the batter to keep the cupcakes soft after baking.

Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners, then scoop a 1/4 cup of batter into each liner. This should only fill 2/3 of your cupcake liners and give your cupcakes room to rise during baking. Bake cupcakes at 350°F (177°C) for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

How to create chocolate ‘bird nests’

While the cupcakes are baking, get started on the chocolate nests.  You can even make the nests a few days ahead and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to decorate your cupcakes.

Use stainless steel spoons for easier removal later by using a lighter to heat the bottom of the spoon. This will lightly melt the chocolate nest and make it easier to release it from the spoon. I used large dinner spoons (head size: 1.5-inch width x 2.5-inch length) and small teaspoons (head size: 1.25-inch width x 2.25-inch length) to create different nest sizes.

Melt chocolate and fill the bag

Melt milk chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl in 30-second intervals in your microwave. Stir the chocolate each time until it is completely melted and smooth. I used a disposable plastic piping bag, but you can also use a large plastic zip-top bag. Place the bag with the corner facing down into a tall cup and pour the melted chocolate in. Carefully squeeze the chocolate into the corner as much as you can and remove excess air in the chocolate by massaging the bag, then twist the bag a few times to seal it. You can use a rubber band to tie the twisted end to keep it in place. 

With a scissor, snip the tip to create a 0.25 cm opening. Start with a small opening and test the streak of chocolate on a piece of paper towel or a plate. If it is too small, carefully snip a little more to create a bigger opening. The goal is to mimic a bird’s nest straws. 

Pipe the nest onto a spoon

Line a baking tray with wax paper or aluminum foil. 

You can create different chocolate patterns for each nest or keep it uniform. I piped the chocolate in a criss-cross pattern on a few spoons and some with just horizontal or vertical lines. Others had a mix of vertical and criss-cross lines or loops. The key is to create a nest with minimal gaps in order to release it from the spoon without breaking it, so make sure you pipe enough chocolate to create at least a 0.5 cm thickness. You may end up with leftover chocolate in the bag. Save it! You will need it for the decoration later.

Carefully place each piped spoon onto your lined tray. Then slowly transfer the tray to your refrigerator and chill the chocolate for a minimum of 1 hour or longer.

How to release the chocolate nest from the spoon

For this step, I recommend you wear food-safe gloves to minimize the chocolate from melting while you handle it. To remove the hardened chocolate nest, use a lighter to heat the bottom of the spoon (with back and forth motion) for 10 seconds. Then use your thumb to push the chocolate nest forward to release it from the spoon. Keep chocolate nests refrigerated until you are ready to decorate them on the cupcakes.

Chill the frosting for better piping

After you have finished piping the chocolate nests and set them in the refrigerator to chill, you can make the frosting. Since cream cheese frosting is best paired with carrot cake, it tends to be softer than regular cupcake frosting. Like the carrot cupcakes, you can make the frosting a day ahead and keep it in the fridge to firm up until you are ready to decorate the cupcakes.

How to make cream cheese frosting

Make sure to use room temperature unsalted butter and cream cheese for easier mixing. Place the cream cheese block and unsalted butter into the bowl of your mixer (with paddle attachment). If you do not have a mixer, you can do this with a whisk and mix by hand. Mix the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add salt, vanilla extract, and icing sugar and combine until the frosting is a smooth texture. Scoop it into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour up to 24 hours. When ready to decorate, give the frosting a good stir before adding it to the piping bag. 

When you are ready to decorate, you have a couple of options. If you have a decoration kit like me, choose an icing tip you like. I used icing tip #9 from this decorating kit I bought from Amazon. It created a nice ‘swirl’ I wanted for my frosting. Depending on the decorating kit brand you use, this tip might be a different number. If you do not have a decoration kit, you can keep it simple and use a large plastic zip-top bag. Cut the corner to have a 2 cm opening or bigger if you prefer.

How to decorate Easter cupcakes

Decorating your cupcakes just before serving keeps them freshest. If you do not have time to do that, you can decorate them in the morning and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to serve them for dessert. 

Start on the outside and pipe the frosting inward in a single, circular layer until you get to the center. Swirl the frosting in the center around 2 or 3 times to give it a little height for the bird’s nest and eggs.

Place a chocolate nest in the center on top of the frosting and lightly press it down. I alternated between placing 2 and 3 eggs for each nest. Use the leftover chocolate from before and pipe a small dot of melted chocolate on the egg, then ‘glue’ it onto the nest. Position some eggs to be upright and some on the side for a more realistic appeal.

Store leftover carrot cupcakes in an airtight container up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Frozen cupcakes last up to 2 months if properly wrapped and stored airtight.

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Easter Carrot Cupcakes with Chocolate Eggs and Nest

Delicious soft cupcakes baked with freshly grated carrots, crushed pineapple, and crunchy toasted walnuts. Each cupcake is iced with cream cheese frosting and decorated with an easy homemade chocolate bird's nest that is topped with mini chocolate eggs. A perfect treat for Easter! 
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Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Refrigeration Tme: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Yields: 21 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the carrot cupcakes

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, scoop & scrape (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (220 g) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (181 g) fresh or canned pineapple, crushed or processed finely
  • 1 cup (128 g) carrots (about 2 large carrots), trimmed, peeled & finely grated
  • 1 cup (117 g) walnuts, toasted & roughly chopped

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 1 block (250 g) cream cheese (31% M.F.), softened to room temperature
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (360 g) icing sugar

For the decoration

  • 1 cup (172 g) milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (182 g) chocolate eggs in a candy shell (about 53 pieces)

INSTRUCTIONS 

To make the carrot cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Make sure your oven rack is moved to the middle shelf. Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside for now.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients (AP flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg). Set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk brown sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs until smooth, and most of the sugar is dissolved. Then whisk in crushed pineapple and grated carrots.
  • Add half of the flour mix into the batter and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Lastly, fold chopped toasted walnuts in with a spatula until just combined! Do not overmix the batter to keep the cupcakes soft after baking.
  • Use a 1/4 measuring cup and scoop batter into each cupcake liner. Make sure the batter is only filled 2/3 in each liner to leave room for cupcakes to rise. Tap the muffin pan on your counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You will need to bake in batches if you only have one muffin pan. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Store them in a single layer in an airtight container if you are baking them a day ahead.

To make the frosting

  • Make sure to use room temperature unsalted butter and cream cheese for easier mixing. Place the cream cheese block and unsalted butter into the bowl of your mixer (with paddle attachment). If you do not have a mixer, you can do this with a whisk and mix by hand. Mix the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add salt, vanilla extract, and icing sugar and combine until the frosting is a smooth texture. Store frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 hour up to 24 hours. When ready to decorate, give the frosting a good stir before adding it to the piping bag. 
  • When you are ready to decorate, attach an icing tip of your choice to the piping bag and fill 1/2 the bag with cream cheese frosting. If you have a decoration kit like me, choose an icing tip you like. I used icing tip #9 from this decorating kit I bought from Amazon. It created a nice ‘swirl’ I wanted for my frosting. Depending on the decorating kit brand you use, this tip might be a different number. If you do not have a decoration kit, you can keep it simple and use a large plastic zip-top bag for the frosting. Cut the corner to have a 2 cm opening or bigger if you prefer.

To make the chocolate nests

  • Melt milk chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl in 30-second intervals in your microwave. Stir the chocolate each time until it is completely melted and smooth.
  • I used a disposable plastic piping bag, but you can also use a large plastic zip-top bag. Place the bag, corner facing down into a tall cup and pour the melted chocolate into the bag. Carefully squeeze the chocolate into the corner and remove excess air by massaging the bag, then twist the bag a few times to seal it. You can use a rubber band to tie the twisted end to keep it in place. With a scissor, snip the tip to create a 0.25 cm opening. Start with a small opening and test the streak of chocolate on a piece of paper towel or a plate. If it is too small, carefully snip a little more to create a bigger opening. The goal is to mimic a bird’s nest straws.
  • Line a baking tray with wax paper or aluminum foil. Use stainless steel spoons for easier removal later by using a lighter to heat the bottom of the spoon. This will lightly melt the chocolate nest and make it easier to release it from the spoon. You can create different chocolate patterns for each nest or keep it uniform. I piped the chocolate in a criss-cross pattern on a few spoons and some with just horizontal or vertical lines. Others had a mix of vertical and criss-cross lines or loops. The key is to create a nest with minimal gaps in order to release it from the spoon without breaking it, so make sure you pipe enough chocolate to create at least a 0.5 cm thickness. You may end up with leftover chocolate in the bag. Save it! You will need it for the decoration later.
  • Carefully place each piped spoon onto your lined tray. Then slowly transfer the tray to your refrigerator and chill the chocolate for a minimum of 1 hour or longer.
  • To remove chocolate nest from the spoon, wear food-safe gloves to minimize the chocolate from melting while you handle it. Use a lighter to heat the bottom of the spoon (with back and forth motion) for 10 seconds. Then use your thumb to push the chocolate nest forward to release it from the spoon. Keep chocolate nests refrigerated until you are ready to decorate them on the cupcakes.

To decorate the cupcakes

  • Start on the outside of the cupcake and pipe the frosting inward in a single, circular layer until you get to the center. Swirl the frosting in the center around 2 or 3 times to give it a little height for the bird’s nest and eggs.
  • Place a chocolate nest in the center on top of the frosting and lightly press it down.
  • I alternated between placing 2 and 3 eggs for each nest. Use the leftover melted chocolate from before and pipe a small dot of chocolate on the egg, then ‘glue’ it onto the nest.
  • Position some eggs to be upright and some on the side for a more realistic appeal of a bird's nest.

Video

Category: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian, European
Keyword: carrot, chocolate chips, cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, easter, eggs, nest

Tips

How many cupcakes does this recipe yield?
It depends on the height of your cupcake liners. I used fluted liners that had a dimension of 1.25-inch height and a 3-inch diameter, resulting in 21 cupcakes. If you use cupcake liners with a 2-inch height or more, you will have a lesser amount made.
Fresh or canned pineapples?
The pineapple juice and pulp replace the need to use too much oil to soften the carrot cake. If you are using fresh pineapples you can crush, grate, or blend them in a food processor. I used fresh pineapples and grated them through a large cheese grater. For canned pineapples, drain them first, then use one of the methods mentioned earlier.
Notes:
  • Pineapples add great flavour and moisture to these cupcakes. If you are not a fan or do not have any on hand, omit the pineapples. You can replace it by adding 1/2 cup vegetable oil (instead of 1/4 cup) to this recipe
  • Store leftover carrot cupcakes in an airtight container up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Frozen cupcakes last up to 2 months if properly wrapped and stored airtight.
  • Scoop & scrape – You may have heard of the “scoop and scrape” method before. Scoop flour into a measuring cup and scrape (or sweep) with the back of a butter knife excess flour away from the surface. This should give you precise measurements each time (instead of shaking your measuring cup). Do not pack flour into your cup like you would with brown sugar. Flour has air in it and if you pack it into your cup, it will end up measuring more flour than you need for your recipe.
Your Own Digital Notes
Nutrition Facts
Easter Carrot Cupcakes with Chocolate Eggs and Nest
Serving Size
 
1 decorated cupcake
Amount per Serving
Calories
329
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
14
g
22
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Cholesterol
 
27
mg
9
%
Sodium
 
201
mg
9
%
Potassium
 
88
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
49
g
16
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
38
g
42
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
1147
IU
23
%
Vitamin C
 
5
mg
6
%
Calcium
 
69
mg
7
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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