Spiderweb Cupcakes and Chocolate Spiders

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 cupcakes
Author: Elizabeth LaBau
This recipe makes 12 extra-tall cupcakes, or 16 regular-sized cupcakes.
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For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 lbs 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


To Make the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk them together. Set aside for a moment.
  • Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
  • Turn the mixer speed to low and add about a third of the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add half of the buttermilk and mix it in. Add half the remaining drys, then the rest of the buttermilk, and finish with the remaining dry ingredients. Stop the mixer when just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl well. Add the chocolate sprinkles and stir them in.
  • Scoop the batter into cupcake liners—you will get about 12 cupcakes if you use large bake cups, and closer to 16 if you use traditional liners. Bake for 20-23 minutes at 350 F, until the tops spring back lightly when touched. Cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate Buttercream:

  • Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool until the chocolate is at room temperature.
  • Put the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla extract, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the melted room temperature chocolate, and beat until incorporated. If the frosting is very stiff, add small amounts of milk until it is the consistency you want.
  • Chocolate Buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you have made it in advance, let it come to room temperature and re-beat until light and fluffy before using.

To Make the Chocolate Ganache:

  • Place the finely chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Heat the cream until it simmers and small bubbles appear along the sides—but do not let it boil.
  • Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit and soften the chocolate for 1 minute. After a minute, whisk everything together until the chocolate is melted and your mixture is smooth and shiny. Use immediately, while still warm and fluid. If it gets too cool and thick, heat it in short bursts in the microwave and whisk well, until it is once again fluid.

To Decorate:

  • Pipe a generous swirl of chocolate buttercream on top of each cupcake. Use a knife or offset spatula to smooth the top down so that it is a flat surface.
  • Melt 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips, and place them in a paper cone or zip-top plastic bag with a small hole snipped in the corner. Hold a cupcake at the bottom, and dip the top into the warm ganache so that the buttercream is entirely covered. While the ganache is still wet, draw a spiral with the white chocolate on top of the cupcake, starting in the center and moving to the outer edge.
  • Take a toothpick and drag it from the middle to the outer edge of the cupcake, creating a wavy line in the white chocolate. Repeat this step until you have a spiderweb-like pattern on top of your cupcake. Dip and decorate the rest of the cupcakes in a similar manner. Top with a chocolate spider.
  • Refrigerate the cupcakes briefly to set the ganache. For the best taste and texture, serve them at room temperature.