Halloween is definitely one of my most favourite times of the year.
I love Halloween because it’s unpretentious — unlike other cultural festivals and holidays that hide behind religious or patriotic reasons for their practice, Halloween doesn’t make any excuses for its unabashed glorification of hedonism. Halloween is about playing dress-up, having fun, and indulging in sweets or alcohol (and, depending on your age, sometimes both)!
If I’m picky about anything on Halloween, however, it’s that I’d like my Halloween treats to be morbid. I want blood, I want guts, I want creatures of identifiable origin, and things that go bump in the night.
That said, I set to making some creature cupcakes to suit my palate and aesthetic tastes!
I still can’t decide if these cupcakes are cute or morbid.
When I look at the food colouring blood splatter, I’m kinda, like, “Ewww…”, but when I gaze into the eye of these lil’ creature cupcakes and see how delightfully vacant they look, I’m kinda, like “Awww…”, and then I look at them longer and I’m definitely all, like, “Mmmm…!”
Anyways, a dark chocolate cake base seemed like the most appropriate choice for these Halloween creatures. The cake recipe I used was very dense and rich in chocolate flavour, although it didn’t rise like I expected it to. When you make these it’s important to only fill any cupcake liners you use half full, or else the cake will rise above the edge of the liners, sink, and then crumble when handled.
The recipe below makes 12 cupcakes.
Bloody Creature Cupcakes
*adapted from Cupcakes: A Collection of Delicious Recipes
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 cup dutch cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup of white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon Kahlua (or rum)
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon black or red food colouring
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
Basic Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 1/2 teaspoon extract, any flavour you like
- meringue bones
- red food colouring
- black food colouring
- candy eyeballs
Preheat oven to 350°F (or 175°C). Fill a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, add in your milk, vanilla extract, Kahlua (or rum, or more milk, or whatever you’re substituting) and beat well. At this point your batter might look a little curdled, but that’s fine and normal — it’ll go away. If you’re using food colouring to “bloody” your batter, now is the time to add it.
Over a double boiler or in a microwave, melt half a cup of dark chocolate chips and stir the melted chocolate into your batter.
Lastly, gently stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Fold together until just incorporated, then spoon into prepared muffin tin.
Make sure to only fill the muffin cups half full! Especially since this particular cake tends to “sink” a little after coming out of the oven.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes.
Beat your butter until soft and creamy. Gradually add 2 cups (or more) of icing sugar, mixing slowly after each addition — nothing is messier and stickier than a icing sugar explosion.
Add in an extract of your choice — I used coconut extract, but lots flavours work well with chocolate — try vanilla, orange, almond, or rum extract if you’d like. Add in a bit of cream and beat really well, so that the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Test it to see how stiff it is. You definitely want a fairly stiff frosting so that it can hold your meringue bones and other candy decorations in place.
Generously frost your cupcakes with a piping bag or a spatula once cooled.
To splatter my meringue bones and cupcakes with “blood”, I made a mixture of a (tiny!) drop of black icing gel, red liquid food coloring, and a dab of water. I found that the black colouring gel goes a lot way, so you don’t need very much of it.
First, I placed my meringues on a paper towel on a cookie sheet in a clear area, and went nuts by swinging a paint brush covered in colouring at the meringues. I gave them 30 minutes to dry before cracking them in half and garnishing the cupcakes. After garnishing the cupcakes with bloody bones, I went back and splattered the cupcakes with more “blood” — the icing has a tendency to blur the blood spatter it gets, though, so I recommend only splattering the cupcakes an hour or two before you serve them.
Tip: keep the “bloody” paper towel for decorating a serving platter.
Finally, to firmly attach the gummy eyeballs, I dipped my finger in a bit of water, wet the back of the gummy, and then gently pressed it into the frosting.
All you’re all done!
Are these cute or scary? I can’t decide. In the meantime, though, I definitely have to protect the world from the scourge of the bloody creature cupcakes, one bite at a time! Yum!