Super-cute, these Easter chicks are made from vanilla-bean cupcakes. The cupcakes are turned upside down and coated with buttercream and coconut, then finished with nut and candy details.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven, stirring often, until golden, about 15 minutes. Line 20 cups of 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coat liners with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Put butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of buttermilk. Beat in extract.
Scoop batter into lined muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks 10 minutes. Unmold; let cool completely.
Peel off liners. Spread buttercream on the top of 1 cupcake; invert onto a small plate. Frost sides of cupcake, then mound more on top to create a dome shape. Put coconut in a bowl. Holding plate at an angle over the bowl, press coconut into frosted top and sides of each cupcake; let excess fall back into bowl. Press in 2 pieces of licorice for eyes and 1 almond for a beak. Place 3 red licorice pastels on top for a comb and 4 at the base for feet. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day.