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I love putting together cheery tablescapes and fun treats for Easter, and this year is no exception! Lemons remind me of Spring and Summer, and add a fresh invigorating flavor to many dishes. So when it came to conjuring up a sweet treat for Easter, I decided on my favorite lemon cake recipe and turned it into bite-sized mini muffins and topped them off with one of my favorite candies – M&M’s®. These aren’t just the regular ones though, they’re M&M’s® Easter Sundae that are sold for a limited time and exclusively at Walmart. They have a white chocolate center and a milk chocolate shell – a perfect addition of cuteness for the tops of these muffins!
Luckily I’m less than a mile from my local Walmart and was able to pick up all of my ingredients and candies to make this fun Easter tablescape and muffins.
Sometimes it’s a little tricky to find the seasonal candies, but fortunately there were signs galore to guide me to the right spot!
You could certainly use a lemon cake mix to make these muffins, but I have a favorite lemon cake recipe that is really simple and something my family loves.
Make sure you start with softened butter, not melted because it will change the texture of this moist and delicious cake.
Most recipes you read typically call for unsalted butter, but I almost always use salted butter. I like the added salt, but if you don’t, feel free to use unsalted.
Start by creaming together the softened butter and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing between additions.
Your batter should look light and creamy.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Instead of sifting, I usually use a dry whisk to whisk together the ingredients, ensuring they are well combined and smooth (no clumps).
Next, zest enough lemons to come up with 1/3 of a cup of fresh lemon zest. When zesting lemons, I usually use a Microplane and gently grate the outermost part of the lemon, turning the lemon until I’ve zested all sides. Make sure you don’t dig in too deep and grate the white part – this will be very bitter and off-putting. I used about 8 lemons.
Next, halve the lemons and squeeze them for juice.
Combine the lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.
Now begin adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beating to combine between additions. Begin and end with flour. Make sure to beat just until combined (no flour lumps), but don’t over-beat because it will make the cake tough.
Remove the beaters from the mixture and the bowl. I generally whisk in the zest by hand because it tends to stick to my beaters and not get evenly incorporated into my batter.
Place mini muffin paper liners into the mini muffin tin. I use a standard cookie scoop to fill my mini muffin liners and it helps make uniform perfectly filled muffins.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cake remains fairly light in color, so check your first batch after 10 minutes in case your oven cooks hotter than mine.
Allow all muffins to cool completely before icing.
Combine all icing ingredients and beat with a mixer until smooth.
Now the fun part! Insert a star tip or round tip into a pastry bag and fill about 1/2 full with icing. Pipe icing in a consistent squeeze onto the muffin top. Place an M&M’s® Easter Sundae onto the top of each muffin. Continue with all muffins.
These muffins are like little bursts of sunshine with each bite!
I decided to make these little muffins a part of my tablescape as the centerpiece, so as I was working, I placed the muffins onto my serving piece.
I used a green moss runner down the center of the table and topped it with dishes of Easter M&M’s® Milk Chocolate and sprinkled around M&M’s® Peanut Butter Eggs and DOVE® Dark Chocolate Eggs.
To go along with my cheery lemony theme, I decided on bright yellow daffodils that I placed in vases filled with Starburst® Strawberry Jellybeans.
Every place setting had a lemon cake mini muffin in an Easter egg cup on each plate.
Lastly, I used a large 12 oz. DOVE® Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny and a small 4.5oz DOVE® Solid Milk Chocolate Bunny to top off my centerpiece. I love the way everything turned out! My family’s eyes lit up when they walked in and saw everything. I love to see how special touches can bring such a feeling of excitement to a get together!
I hope you’ve been inspired to make a fun tablescape and whip up a batch of these Lemon Mini Muffins!
Other great tablescape additions are Hubba Bubba® Bubble Tape, Skittles® Eggs, Skittles® tubes, Easter Mixed Brand Chocolates with SNICKERS®, DOVE®, M&M’s®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY® and 3 Musketeers®.
For more fun M&M® ideas, here is a great resource for Easter basket inspiration and creative recipes; also where you can find all products needed to make the perfect Easter basket!
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup freshly grated lemon zest
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
- 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick salted butter, softened
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, to taste
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the muffins:
- Cream together the softened butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine; set aside.
- In a 4-cup measuring cup, combine lemon juice, butter milk and vanilla; set aside.
- Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to the creamed butter, beating to combine between additions. Begin and end with flour.
- Whisk in lemon zest by hand.
- Scoop batter into mini muffin tins that have been lined with mini muffin paper liners.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Cool completely before icing.
- For the Icing:
- Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a mixer and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Adjust powdered sugar for consistency and taste.
- Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Ice cooled muffins.