Halloween’s round the corner and though it’s not celebrated in India, there’s no way you can escape the season if you’re a part of the food blogging community. Look at food and lifestyle blogs written in the US and pages are awash with the colours and flavour of fall, and of course all thing Halloween.
As I have mentioned before, the bloody, bizarre, ghastly, ghoulish, gory, grisly, gruesome, scary side of the festivities does nothing for me. In fact, I’m at a loss to understand how a lot of the scary parts of the festivities are supposed to be fun for children!
However there is some kind of cuteness in some of it and that part of it gets to me every year – owls, not-so-wicked witches, gingerbread skeletons, spider cookies and cupcakes (even though I don’t like real spiders!), the most non-scary white chocolate or meringue spooks and ghosts, delightful mummy cakes, cookies and cupcakes, pretty pumpkins, the cutest tombstones, and the list goes on.
So you will find that Halloween has in the past had me making Spider Web Cookies, Hoot Owl Cookies Spider Cupcakes, and a Spook-tacularly Boo-tiful Cake! One of the nice things about not celebrating a particular festivity is that you can cook/ bake for it whenever you please – before or even after it’s all over.
My daughter wanted me to bake something to share with her friends at school before their week-long vacation started. After seeing all the Halloween themed food (the cute kind), I thought I would use this excuse to try out something different this time. I just didn’t have the energy to spend a lot of time on baking and decorating so this year I decided to make a large batch of cupcakes and decorate them differently. What could be better than baking something that doesn’t take too much time or effort but taste good and looks like you slaved over it for a night and a day?
Over the years, I’ve discovered that most kids seem to like anything chocolate or vanilla, so chocolate cupcakes it was. I made a large batch of Vanilla Frosting and used that to frost all the three different kinds of cupcakes. Decorating anything using store bought candy has to be simple in India because what we get is pretty limited. So I went simple with Vanilla Cream Oreos, Cadbury 5 Star bars (caramel centred chocolate bars), Gems (coloured chocolate buttons similar to Smarties/ MMs), and Cadbury Dairymilk Shots (sugar candy coated milk chocolate balls)
The Oreos made the cutest looking Owl Cupcakes, the 5 Star bars made the head stones and crumbled Oreos were the “dirt “for the Tombstone/ Graveyard Cupcakes, and Vanilla Frosting made great “bandages for the Mummy Cupcakes.
If you don’t want to do the baking and the decorating the same day, you can make the cupcakes the previous day and decorate them the following day.
(Cupcakes adapted from Joy of Baking)
Easy Halloween Cupcakes – Mummy Cupcakes, Owl Cupcakes & Tombstone/ Graveyard Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp coffee instant powder
- 1 cup water boiling hot
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100 gm butter , room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Frosting
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 100 gm butter , at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tbsps milk hot (or water)
For Decorating the Cupcakes:
- chocolate Coloured buttons like Gems , Smarties , M & Ms
- Vanilla Cream Oreo Cookies (2 per cupcake)
- Chocolate sprinkles, Chocolate Candy Bars , etc
- Put the cocoa powder and the coffee powder in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Stir well until smooth and keep aside to cool.
- In another bowl, using a hand held mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, while scraping down the sides in between. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat well. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl and add to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix well and then add the coca mixture (itu2019s alright if it is still quite warm) and beat till smooth.
- Divide the batter between 16 muffin cups lined with paper cases so that each one is about 2/3rds full. Bake the cupcakes at 190C (375F) for 15 to 20 minutes till theyu2019re done, springy to touch and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool them on a wire rack, then decorate. This recipe makes 16 cupcakes.
- While the cupcakes are baking make the frosting. Put the soft butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand held mixer till the frosting is fluffy. Add the vanilla and 1 tbsp hot milk/ water ( more of needed) and beat well till the frosting is of desired consistency. The frosting is ready to use and is enough to decorate the 16 cupcakes.
- To make the Owl Cupcakes, using a spatula or spoon, pile about a tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and smoothen it all over covering the top of the cupcakes completely. You will need two Oreo cookies for each cupcake. Carefully twist open and separate the Oreo cookies so that the cream filling is on one cookie u2013 these will form the eyes. Using a knife cut the cookie halves without the cream into exact halves u2013 these will make the eyebrows.
- Take a cupcake and place the two Oreo halves at the top to make the eyebrows. Place two cookies with the cream slightly below overlapping this to form the two eyes. Use coloured or brown chocolate buttons or for the middle of the eyes and press in an orange chocolate button slightly below in the middle to make the beak. Thatu2019s it, and your Owl Cupcakes are ready!
- To make the Mummy Cupcakes, you will need a u201cbasket weaveu201d icing tip to form the ribbon-like flat bandages. (watch video below)
- Fill your piping bag with the Vanilla Frosting and then pipe the u201cbandagesu201d across the top of the cupcakes, back and forth in a random manner, using coloured chocolate buttons for the eyes. Thatu2019s all there is to this Mummy Cupcakes.
- And the Tombstone/ Graveyard Cupcakes are the easiest. Cover the cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting like for the Owl Cupcakes above. Crumble the remaining Oreo cookies (the halves without the cream) left over from the Owl Cupcakes to form the u201cdirtu201d, and sprinkle this over the frosted cupcakes.
- You can use any small chocolate candy bar to make the u201ctombstonesu201d. I used the small Cadbury 5 Star bars (soft caramel centred chocolate bars) and cut each in half for one u201ctombstoneu201d. Fill a little Vanilla Frosting into a piping bag with a writing tip and use this to decorate the u201ctombstoneu201d with lettering like u201cRIPu201d or whatever you like. Push this down on the top of the u201cdirtu201d covered cupcakes and your Tombstone/ Graveyardu201d Cupcakes are ready too.