These chocolaty cupcakes are almost too cute to eat. The best part? There’s a surprise Oreo cookie at the bottom!

YIELDS: 12 servings
TOTAL TIME: 0 hours 55 mins
INGREDIENTS
CUPCAKES
1 c.  unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 c. milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
12 regular Oreos
24 mini Oreos
BUTTERCREAM
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Gel food coloring

DIRECTIONS

* Make cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan and a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners. 
* In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed 1 minute or until well blended. Add eggs; beat 2 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla (batter may look curdled), then flour just until blended. 
* Place 1 Oreo in the bottom of each regular-size muffin cup and 1 mini Oreo in the bottom of each mini muffin cup. Spoon batter over tops, filling each about ⅔ full. 
* Bake until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cupcakes comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely. 
* Meanwhile, make buttercream: Sift sugar into a large bowl. 
* Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add sugar, alternating with heavy cream. Mix in vanilla. 
* Increase speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Tint and decorate cupcakes as desired.
DECORATE THE CUPCAKES
* Chick: Frost cupcake with yellow buttercream, then roll in yellow sprinkles to cover. Use buttercream to attach 2 brown mini M&M eyes, then pipe on white buttercream highlights. Use buttercream to attach an orange Cry Baby Tears beak. Trim 2 yellow Necco wafers and press into cupcakes for wings. 
* Lamb: Frost cupcake with white buttercream, then roll in white nonpareils to cover. Remove cream from a chocolate sandwich cookie and discard. Trim sides of cookie to make a tapered head. Cut one of the small pieces in half to make ears. Use buttercream to attach 2 brown mini M&M eyes, then pipe on white buttercream highlights. Use buttercream to attach trimmed cookie, then pipe small brown buttercream dots for nostrils and small white buttercream dots for wool. Press pointed ends of the small pieces into cupcakes for ears.
* Rabbit and bunny: Frost cupcakes with plain buttercream, then roll in desiccated coconut to cover. Use buttercream to attach 2 brown mini M&M eyes, then pipe on white buttercream highlights. Snip a marshmallow crosswise into ⅛-in.-thick slices to make ears. Insert 2 thin pretzel sticks at top edge of cupcake and use buttercream to attach marshmallow ears; pipe pink buttercream inside. Use buttercream to attach a pink jellybean nose and press in chocolate sprinkle whiskers.
* Pig and piglet: Frost cupcake with pink buttercream, then roll in light or bright pink sanding sugar to coat. Use buttercream to attach 2 brown mini M&M eyes, then pipe on white buttercream highlights. Use buttercream to attach a pink Necco wafer or a small circle of pink fruit chew for the snout, then pipe small brown buttercream vertical lines for nostrils. Cut a mini pink marshmallow on a diagonal and use buttercream to attach to cupcake for ears.