Halloween Cupcake Perfection

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The crispness of the fall air, the changing colors of leaves, bonfires, and oh, yeah, all those that go bump in the night. It’s almost Halloween and the choice of every ghoul is a full moon. Hence the inspiration for my recent cupcake.  Chocolate cupcakes with an ooozing red-tinted white chocolate ganache filling, covered with chocolate buttercream frosting, decorated with an iced sugar cookie moon and cotton candy clouds. Death By Chocolate Under The Light Of The Moon – can a Halloween cupcake get better than this?

First Things First – Creating the Sugar Cookie Moon

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It’s Pandamonium! Panda Cupcakes

Recently, I had a request to create Panda cupcakes. There is a panda cupcake floating around the internet that seems to be very likeable. I decided to try recreating this popular cupcake. It was actually quite easy as most of the ingredients are store bought.

Start with a simple cupcake recipe and bake 12 cupcakes. Even though I obviously didn’t bake chocolate cupcakes, I would suggest making them. My favorite, easy chocolate cupcake recipe can be found here.

To make the pandas, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Cupcakes
  • Rice Crispy Treats
  • Mini Oreo Cookies (for ears)
  • Regular size Oreo Cookies (for paws)
  • Crushed Oreo Cookies (for body)
  • White frosting (1-2 containers of store bought frosting)
  • Black frosting (reserve a small amount of white frosting and add black gel color)
  • Green Fruit Roll-Ups or Tootsie Rolls (for bamboo leaves)
  • Pretzel sticks (for bamboo shoots)

Unwrap and mold the Rice Crispy treat into a ball with a shape protruding for the snout. This creates the panda head.

Attach the head to the cupcake with frosting.  Then add more frosting to secure the head onto the cupcake.  Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes so frosting will harden.

Once the first layer of frosting has hardened, completely frost the cupcake making sure to define the neck and snout of the panda.  Using the crushed Oreos, press into the base of the cupcake to make the body.

Cut off 1/3 of the mini Oreos and cut the regular size Oreos in half.  Add the mini Oreos to the top for ears. Add the regular Oreos to the sides for paws.

Place a small amount of the black frosting into a sandwich bag and cut a small hole into the tip.  Do the same with the white frosting.  Draw the eye patches, nose and mouth with the black frosting.  Add a dot of white frosting to the eye patch and draw the claws onto the paws.

To create the bamboo, cut out leaf shapes from the green fruit roll up.  I didn’t have any fruit roll-ups, but I did have some green Tootsie Rolls (I tend to stock up on seasonal candies as they can be used all year round for various decorations.)  On a microwave safe plate, place the unwrapped Tootsie Roll in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it and cut out leaf shapes.  Press the leaf shapes onto a pretzel stick.

Cute panda cupcake complete.  Happy creating!

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I *Heart* You – Cupcakes of Love

Okay, I’m a tad late with the Valentine themed cupcakes, but look at is this way – you have 12 months to prepare them or to order them from me!

These are chocolate cupcakes topped with raspberry buttercream frosting,  iced mini-sugar cookie decoration and a *surprise* pink vanilla heart cake filling. (Perhaps I should call the blog “compositions, COMPLICATED cupcakes and chaos”?)  Bake It In A Cake was my reference as to how to bake a heart into a cake, and the vanilla cake recipe is an adaptation of hers.

The first step is to make the sugar cookies (this is the BEST sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever made – but it’s from my archives and don’t know to whom credit is due!) Goes like this:

  • Cream together 1 cup butter and 2/3 cup sugar
  • Beat in 1 room temperature egg
  • Combine and add 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • Mix until ingredients are well combined. Chill dough 3-4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roll out dough (onto floured surface) about 1/4″ thick and cut.  Bake 8-10 minutes and cool completely before icing.

The icing is a thinned Royal Icing. If you’ve never used Royal Icing before, the best tutorial I have ever seen is posted by  Sweetopia and I generally follow her guidelines.  (Her blog is a wonderland and worth a trip!) I used the following recipe and frosted almost all of the cookies with it:

  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon Meringue powder
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons warm water and add water to desired consistency

Beat all ingredients at low speed for a few minutes until incorporated. The icing should be thin enough to “flow” (this is where watching the above mentioned tutorial explains it all.)

The next step is to make the pink vanilla hearts: Preheat oven to 350F

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs (crack 3 – mix up, measure 1/2 and save the other 1/2 for another purpose)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I like LOTS of flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • red food coloring
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, and vanilla and mix completely.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients and then add a bit at a time, alternating with the milk, mixing until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically during this process.
  4. Mix in the red food coloring 2 or 3 drops at a time until desired shade of color is reached. The color will lighten while baking, so keep that in mind.
  5. Continue beating the batter on medium-high another 30 seconds.
  6. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the batter into a nonstick or lightly greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes (yes, there will be some batter left over).  Allow the cake to cool completely.
  7. Once the cake is cooled, loosen the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges and carefully invert the pan onto a cutting board.  Use a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts from the cake. (I did this twice and had to slice a bit off the heart cakes as they ended up a tad too thick for this project – or maybe a thicker cake would have been better?)
  8. Set aside while mixing up the chocolate cake batter.

On to the chocolate cake step: (I tried using my favorite chocolate cake recipe – the one on this blog – but it didn’t work as that mixture is very liquidy and the heart cakes ended up floating and, and, and – just use this recipe.  I tried this one I found on Taste of Home and it worked well.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Using a non-toxic marker, make a small dot on the edge of 12 paper liners and place in a standard muffin tin with all dots facing the same direction.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla until well incorporated.
  3. Combine and sift the dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk and coffee.  Beat well after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Spoon in 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into the prepared tins.  Place a heart in each cup – the bottom of the heart pointing down and the front of the heart facing the dot on the cupcake paper.  Press the heart gently into the batter.  Carefully cover the heart with another teaspoon (or a little more) with more batter.  Make sure the batter covers the heart – but do not overfill as the goal is to crown nicely and not go over the edge of the tin. You will NOT use all of the chocolate batter.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted (not in the center as that’s where the heart is!) comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE!  Cool completely before moving on to the frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting time!  I like TONS of frosting, so this is the recipe I created – it will make a large quantity.  It other words, this will generously cover 12 cupcakes with some left over.

  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 (or whatever it takes to get the desired consistency) teaspoons of liquid from frozen raspberries
  1. Mix together butter and sugar until blended and creamy.
  2. Add vanilla and raspberry liquid and beat for another few minutes until light and fluffy. Be careful with the liquid as the frosting needs to be stiff to pipe.  (I added too much the first time and it was too runny – I couldn’t add enough powdered sugar to correct it!  I was told the taste was pure awesomeness – but it looked like a mess!)

Now, we’ll finish it off by adding a mini-sugar cookie.  To see the heart inside, look for the dot and cut the cupcake in half parallel to the dot.

What to do with left-over batter and frosting?  Add some of each into prepared muffin tins – bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Pipe on a dollop of frosting and add a mini-sugar cookie. Go with the theme, “Mixed Up Over You!”

 

 

 

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