The robin egg speckled frosting on this browned butter vanilla snack cake is PERFECT for spring time. It's an easy yet impressive dessert for Easter and other springtime celebrations. The best part: this cake tastes even better than it looks!
Speckled robin eggs are one of my favorite decorations for Easter and spring, and I love those little malted chocolate robin egg candies. So when I started thinking about desserts that would be perfect for an Easter brunch or spring time celebration, I knew that I wanted to create the same beautifully speckled effect on a cake!
I opted for a simple snack cake so that we can spend less time fussing over frosting the cake and more time enjoying the spring weather! The speckled frosting is surprisingly quick and easy to do, and it makes for an impressive dessert with less effort than a tiered, frosted cake.
And let me just say that this vanilla snack cake is anything but vanilla. Instead of plain, unsalted butter, we'll use browned butter for a toasted, nutty flavor that perfectly complements the vanilla and adds a little extra something to our cake. This is, of course, optional, but I recommend browning the butter for the wonderful flavor complexity it adds. Just note that you'll need to brown your butter in advance so that it's at room temperature when you're ready to bake your cake. (See the note in the recipe for more info.)
Now for the frosting! For this cake we're using my favorite buttercream frosting recipe, downsized for the smaller cake. A few drops of pastel blue food coloring (I used Wilton's) give us the gorgeous robin egg blue shade we're looking for.
But the best part of this cake is the beautiful speckled frosting, and it's a lot easier to create this look than you'd think! First we'll whisk together cocoa powder and vanilla extract to create our chocolate "paint". Then we'll use a new (or clean), stiff-bristled paint brush (I used the beige brush in this set) to splatter the chocolate onto the frosting. This would be such a fun recipe to make with kids, because what kid doesn't like making a little mess in the kitchen?!
When you're ready to serve the cake, simply slice it into squares and watch your loved ones' faces light up when they see the gorgeous robin egg speckled frosting!
Browned Butter Vanilla Snack Cake with Robin Egg Speckled Frosting
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 8x8 metal pan
- Stiff-bristled paint brush (small and new/clean)
Browned Butter Vanilla Cake:
- 1 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and at room temperature (see note at end of recipe)
- ⅞ cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces whole milk, room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon whole milk
- 2-3 drops pastel blue food coloring
- ¾ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ⅛ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8in. x 8in. baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Make the cake.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Add the butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and beat the butter on high speed for about one minute, until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about two minutes.
- Add the egg whites and beat on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed while mixing.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low speed, slowly add the milk and stir just until combined. Be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Make the frosting.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening until smooth. Add vanilla and mix well. Add sugar slowly – one cup at a time – beating well on medium speed and scraping the bowl often. When all sugar is added the frosting will be dry. Then add milk and beat at high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the food coloring one drop at a time, beating well between each addition, until the desired shade of blue is reached.
Decorate the cake.
- Carefully lift the edges of the parchment paper to remove the cake from the pan. Spread the frosting generously onto the top of the cake.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and vanilla extract for the chocolate speckles and whisk until smooth. Dip the bristles of a small, new/clean, stiff-bristled paint brush into the chocolate mixture. Holding the paint brush over the frosted cake, use your finger to gently pull back the bristles (away from the cake) and then release them (towards the cake) to flick the chocolate speckles onto the frosting.
- Slice the cake into 9 squares and serve.