Ahh, velcome to Tuesdays vith Dorie…Haunted Cupcake Edition. Mwahahaha!
As a holiday, Halloween doesn’t inspire a lot of passion in me. I can never think of brilliant costume ideas, and let’s face it, I chow down on candy year-round. However, I do love cake (and cupcake!) decorating, so when Clara at I Heart Food for Thought chose the chocolate-chocolate cupcakes for this week’s TWD recipe, and gently nudged us all to decorate them for Halloween, I dove into the challenge with pastry bags a-blazin’.
I had a list of about two dozen cupcake designs I wanted to try, literally, and my original goal was to make each cupcake an entirely unique creation. But then I remembered that I had things to do this weekend, like work and errands and sleeping and eating, so I decided to whittle down my list to just a handful of Halloween-themed designs:
Clockwise from top left: hand bursting from cupcake, mummycakes, bloody eyeballs, pumpkins, ghosts, spiders and webs.
So first, the cupcakes. Lots of people complained that theirs turned out dry, so I was really skimpy on my flour measurements, and I added a little bit of plain yogurt to the batter. I also baked them much less than Dorie suggested: the minis were done in about 14 minutes, and the large cupcakes were done around 19 minutes. I doubled the batch and made 24 minis and 17 regular-sized cupcakes.
I thought that they were pretty decent by themselves. A nice, but not overwhelming, chocolate flavor, a moist crumb, nothing objectionable. They weren’t quite chocolatey enough for me, and there were too many steps/bowls to feel like they were worth my while, so I can’t say that they’ll make it into my regular cupcake rotation, but I certainly didn’t think they were bad.
Because they lacked the chocolatey oomph I crave, I filled them with a squirt of bittersweet chocolate ganache before decorating. I also omitted the chocolate glaze and instead made a big batch of buttercream to be used for decorating. And what sorts of decorations did I do?
PUMPKINS: Orange buttercream, piped in a large mound on top. I let them chill in the refrigerator for a bit to start setting the buttercream, then indented the top with a finger, rolled the tops in orange sugar, and dragged a toothpick down the sides to create creases. A small pretzel rod was the finishing touch.
SPIDERWEBS: I made a little chocolate buttercream, and topped some of the cupcakes with chocolate, then dipped the tops in some liquid ganache. Most of them just got spiderwebs in a contrasting color, but I made two spiders out of black fondant (and lots of frustration) to top several of the spiderwebs. Here’s a tip if you’re trying to get a true black frosting color: always start with a chocolate frosting. If you start with white, you’ll just get dark grey, never black. Also, gel colors give better results than most liquid colors.
EYEBALLS: red buttercream veins, with M&Ms (plain and peanut) as the iris and a dab of frosting in the middle for the pupil. Larger candies like lifesavers probably would have worked better on the big cupcakes, but it was late and I was tired.
MUMMIES: I kind of love these little guys. They were really simple, too. A quick base coat of buttercream, topped by two mini M&Ms for eyes, then lots of strips of buttercream using a small rectangular (basketweave) tip–the smallest rose tip would probably work well too.
GHOSTS: I had a little bit of leftover homemade marshmallow fondant in my fridge, so I made a few ghosts. I piped a tall, thin cylinder of buttercream onto the cupcakes, then refrigerated them until the buttercream was well set. I rolled the fondant into thin circles and draped it over the buttercream tower. The eyes and mouth were bits of black fondant. These probably wouldn’t hold up well all day in a warm room, but they were fine when they sat out for a few hours tonight.
IT CAME FROM INSIDE THE CUPCAKE: This was just for fun! I had a package of gummy body parts (ah, Halloween) so I did some bloody fingers emerging from a mini cupcake. Sadly, I only had four fingers so this is a Simpsons-style hand. I considered, but ultimately rejected, using the gummy bloody brain and the gummy moldy tongues. Ew.
All the cupcakes came with me to a party tonight and everyone seemed to enjoy them, so I will consider this recipe a success. And I had a blast doing the decorating, so thank you to Clara for a great choice!
Cupcakes as far as the eye can see…Happy Halloween, everyone!