In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to bake themed cupcakes. I chose simple vanilla cakes with buttercream frosting, which allowed for ample decorating opportunities. Since I wasn’t confident in my ability to create black frosting, I settled on purple. I most likely would have ended up with a mud-colored frosting if I mixed all the food dyes, as I am not a chemist. The only solution I’ve seen was on the show, Cupcake Wars, when a contestant used squid ink to create a deep black color. Since the ink would add unnecessary (and unwanted) flavor, I vetoed this option.
Using a different recipe, but the same decoration ideas from another blog, I made “candy corn” cupcakes. Although the cakes do not actually have candy corn in the batter, with the help of food dye, the little cakes come to resemble the candy. I divided the cupcake batter in half, dying one yellow and one orange. I proceeded to fill the liners with yellow batter first, then topped them with orange batter. Once baked, I let the cupcakes cool and piped them with a dollop of buttercream frosting and a single candy corn.
For the spider web and witch cupcakes, I used the same batter and frosting recipe as the candy corn cakes. However, instead of dying the batter, I died the frosting. While thinking of something that would be sturdy enough for the witch hat, I realized that oddly, we still had Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies (unopened) in our pantry. I figured even if the cookies were stale, they would work for presentation. The cookies worked perfectly—and still tasted fresh and crunchy. Must have some amazing preservatives!
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup half & half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture; stir in milk. Yields 12 cupcakes.
Buttercream frosting recipe:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 to 2 tbsp. milk or half & half
In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and milk/half & half. If necessary, add more confectioner’s sugar to reach desired thickness.