1 cupcake recipe, 3 spooky Halloween treats

These spooky treats will add the perfect finishing touch to your Halloween get-together, and all are made using the one basic cupcake recipe.


Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 20
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

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For the cupcake batter
230g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
60g Dutch cocoa powder
125ml buttermilk
180g unsalted butter, softened
1½ tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the chocolate buttercream
150g white chocolate buttons
180g unsalted butter, softened
215g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a 20-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Start by making the cupcake batter. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer), sift and stir together all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Beat on low speed until just combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes until a smooth batter forms.

Spoon two level tablespoons of batter into each cupcake case. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean.

Transfer the muffin tin to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cupcakes from their holes and place on the rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream. (If you are making the Marshmallow ghost cupcakes, skip this step.) Melt the chocolate buttons either in the microwave, in shorts bursts so that the chocolate doesn’t burn, or in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, set aside.

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Combine the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer and beat on low speed to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and milk and beat for a further 2 minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and fluffy.

Add the melted chocolate to the bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Spoon the buttercream into an icing (piping) bag fitted with a small or medium open-star nozzle.

For a classic look, pipe large swirls of buttercream on top of each cupcake while the buttercream is still soft, or follow the instructions below to create chocolate pretzel spiders or kooky cookie bats.

 

 

Marshmallow Ghosts

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Makes 12
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 batch chocolate cupcakes
250g softened butter
185g icing sugar
200g marshmallow crème (fluff) or marshmallow spread
½ tsp vanilla extract
50g milk chocolate buttons

Method
Prepare the chocolate cupcakes and let them cool. Cream the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix until well combined. Fold in the marshmallow crème. Transfer the mixture to a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain, round nozzle. Pipe little ghosts on top of the chocolate cupcakes.

Melt the chocolate buttons, either in the microwave, in shorts bursts so that the chocolate doesn’t burn, or in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip the end of a skewer into the melted chocolate and dab two eyes onto the marshmallow ghosts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate Pretzel Spiders

Makes 12
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 batch chocolate cupcakes
1 batch chocolate buttercream
100g milk chocolate buttons
200g white chocolate buttons
1×150g packet chocolate-coated stick pretzels (see Note)

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Method
Prepare the chocolate cupcakes and let them cool before coating with chocolate buttercream using a spatula. You want a smooth finish for the spider body.

To make the spider legs, melt three-quarters of the milk chocolate buttons, either in the microwave, in shorts bursts so that the chocolate doesn’t burn, or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper.

Cut or break your stick pretzel into shorter sizes for the spider leg parts. Create angled spider legs by dipping a stick pretzel into the melted chocolate and joining it with a second stick pretzel at a right angle.

Place on the baking tray. Once you have created all spider legs (eight per spider!), place the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for the chocolate to set.

Once ready to decorate, stick eight legs into each cupcake. Melt the white chocolate buttons. Using a piping (icing) bag with a small tip, pipe your desired number of white “eyeballs” onto each cupcake, at varying sizes. While the white chocolate is setting, melt the remaining milk chocolate, then use a skewer to dab pupils onto the white spider eyes to finish.

NOTE
You can buy store-bought chocolate-coated pretzels, or simply make your own. Melt 200 g dark chocolate following the instructions in the method above. Dip the stick pretzels into the melted chocolate and set aside to cool on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Kooky Cookie Bats

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Makes 12
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 batch chocolate cupcakes
1 batch chocolate buttercream
1×137g packet Oreos
250g mini marshmallows
50g milk chocolate buttons

Method
Prepare the chocolate cupcakes, ensuring not to overfill the cupcake cases – you want the cupcakes to remain relatively flat on top. Bake and let cool. If required, you can cut the top flat before icing the cupcake with buttercream. Use a spatula to flatten the icing across the cupcakes. Cut the chocolate cookies in half to create semi-circle bat wings, then stick them onto the bat cupcakes.

Next, add two mini marshmallows for eyes. Melt the milk chocolate buttons, either in the microwave, in shorts bursts so that the chocolate doesn’t burn, or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip the end of a skewer into the melted chocolate and dab two pupils onto the marshmallow “eyeballs”.

NOTE
You can use melted white chocolate buttons to further decorate the bats. For example, you could create other facial features, such as fangs.

Extracted from Celebrate with Chyka Keebaugh (Hardie Grant, approx €23.50). Photography © Commission Studio 2019.

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