Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ann's October Cake - Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween has slowly but surely become my favorite holiday (but maybe it's Christmas???? I don't know! I can't decide!), and everyone in my family agrees that one of the best parts of Halloween are Halloween cupcakes!!! In fact, they are so popular that my nephew Adam once prayed "Thank you for my family. Thank you for corn. Thank you for Halloween cupcakes, yum yum, they're my favorite" BEFORE he had ever actually had a Halloween cupcake. My sister had just talked them up that much in front of him! (Sorry for stealing your story, Listle. You had your chance.) I knew it was a given that I'd made some for my October cake.

I went a little nuts with Halloween issues of Martha Stewart Living (I'd bought a copy of a special issue a couple of years ago that'd been taken by a former roommate), and I spent A LOT of time on eBay trying to find past issues, and I maybe also got a little obsessed with Martha in the meantime and subscribed to two of her magazines. Anyhoo, I had remembered these cupcakes that I had seen two years ago, so that's what I wanted to make.

The cupcakes themselves were easy to make, but the frosting called for some ingredients that I didn't have access to (whipping quality pasturized egg whites?). I also ended up going to several stores looking for all the candy I needed for the decoration (who knew that red hots were so hard to find???), so as usual, I was scrambling to get everything done. Since I was also trying to organize a large party, this was more stressful than fun. In the end, after I got the cupcakes made, I decorated them as best I could with what I'd been able to find. As the party began, I enlisted the help of our friends to help decorate. I think I did all the mummies and skeletons, but other people helped out with the witches and the spiders (which ended up just being evil toothed things because I hadn't been able to find the licorice strings).

I wish I'd been able to spend more time with these. The cupcakes looked good, but I could have done better, and I thought they tasted a little dry (I made them a day before I decorated, and I think they weren't covered properly). I think that the ideas from the magazine were amazing, so it was my own issues with trying to fit too much in to too little time that made them not everything they could be. My favorites were the mummies, with pear jelly beans and food coloring for eyes, red gummi bears for a mouth, and lots of piped frosting (check off piping requirement!). I thought they looked really cute!
Hooray for Halloween cupcakes, and hooray for spooky me!

Halloween Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart Holiday: Halloween, 2007
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 sticks butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins or 2 1/2 mini muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

3. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk.

4. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake until tops spring back, when lightly touched, about 20 minutes for standard cupcakes, and 8 to 10 minutes for mini cupcakes. Let cool completely in tins on wire racks. Decorate with buttercream and candy, as per pictures below.

Vanilla Buttercream:

6 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
9 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Beat butter in the bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula as needed, about 5 minutes total. After every 2 additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate the frosting. Add vanilla, and beat until smooth.

For mummy cupcakes, frost with a layer of buttercream. Place a dot of black gel frosting or melted chocolate on two pale green jelly beans. Halve a red gummi bear lengthwise. Arrange the candy to make a face. Pipe bands of buttercream using a ribbon tip (such as Ateco #44) to replicate ragged bandages.

For skeleton cupcakes, frost cupcakes with buttercream. Arrange with white jelly beans, black licorice candy, and black M&Ms to form a skeleton face.

For witch cupcakes, mix buttercream with green food coloring. Mound frosting on cupcakes, and arrange black M&Ms, candy corn, licorice strings, and a chocolate ice cream cone to make a witch.

For spider cupcakes, frost mini cupcakes with buttercream and dip in black sanding sugar. Arrange a spider face with red hots or halved red jelly beans and sliced marshmallows. Stick licorice strings in the sides for spider legs (if you can find the licorice strings...I couldn't...)


Elizabeth said...

Oh my gosh, Ann. Those are totally cute and cool, rolled into one! I love them. I think I loved the creepy toothy bugs the best, even if they WERE supposed to be something else. I love them!

I love that you made all 4 types too. For me, so much of the appeal of pictures of halloween cupcakes is in the VARIETY, and you captured that.

Preet and beaut. As you would say.

(And thanks for writing out the story of Adam's cupcake prayer. SOMEONE'S got to journal the happenings of these kids, right? It might as well be you.)

Elizabeth said...

The only downside to those cupcakes is all the licorice. But one can pull it off, can't one?? haha

What are the "licorice pieces" on the skeletons?

For the spider legs, you get those Twizzlers ropes and pull them apart. I use those for lots of decorating stuff with my kids, and they're super easy to manage.

ferskner said...

Adam's prayer is also on my other blog - I posted it when it happened. So hooray!

I'm not sure what the licorice candy is because I didn't find them. I thought they were Mike & Ikes, but those are actually white and pink. Who knew!? Everyone except me. I ended up using M&Ms and laying them vertically instead.

Thanks for the Twizzlers hint! I know I've seen that kind of licorice string candy before, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Maybe if I'd tried a candy store in the mall?

Julie said...

Those are so cute and festive! I love the skeleton cupcake because he looks a little like he has buck teeth (and that's..cute?). I also love the spider ones too, because they look like bug vampires. Did they sparkle in the sunshine?

Jenn and Josh said...

oh my goodness, those are so awesome!! I love it! And Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year! I wish I had time to make or "attempt" to make cute stuff like this! :)

DeskSet said...

I think my favorite are the mummies. But then I can just imagine Ferskner holding up the spiders and making a face that I'd rather not think about and making a sound somewhat akin to "Gnaaaaaah!"