weeknight gourmet

Spooktacular Halloween Cupcakes

In honor of Halloween and as a pre-NYC marathon dessert for my sister-in-law Julina, I decided to bake some cupcakes.  I turned to the Cake Mix Doctor for a delicious and easy recipe.

This recipe “doctors” a devil’s food cake mix by adding a little cocoa and buttermilk.  The cake was super moist!  The icing was a simple buttercream and very tasty!  I added some yellow and red food coloring for a nice orange color.  I skipped the spiders in the recipe and just decorated with some red sugar.

The cupcakes were a hit!  I’ll definitely be making these again.

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Many thanks to Judy & Irv for the adorable cupcake plates.  They were perfect!

Halloween Spider Cupcakes
Cake Mix Doctor

Makes 24 cupcakes (2 1/2 inches each)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Spider chilling time: 30 to 40 minutes
Baking time: 16 to 20 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes

24 silver or foil liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)

CUPCAKES
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FROSTING:
Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
6 drops yellow food coloring
2 drops red food coloring

GARNISHES:
24 Chocolate Spiders (recipe follows)
Tiny round decorating candies (optional)
Brown decorating gel (optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with silver paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spoon or scoop a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool completely, 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the Buttercream Frosting. Place G cup of the frosting in a plastic sandwich bag and set aside. Add the yellow and red food coloring to the remaining frosting. Blend well so the frosting is evenly orange. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely.

5. Garnish the cupcakes: Cut off a small piece from one of the bottom corners of the plastic bag holding the frosting. Pipe 2 eyes on each of the Chocolate Spiders. Place a small round decorating candy in the center of each eye, if desired. Place a spider on top of each cupcake. There will be 6 extra spiders for additional platter garnish or simply to enjoy. If you wish, pipe a web on the platter using brown decorating gel. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake saver, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the unfrosted and undecorated cupcakes in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before frosting, decorating, and serving.

CHOCOLATE SPIDERS
You can make these spiders up to two days before you bake the cupcakes. The six extras make wonderful platter decorations or sweet treats by themselves.

1 1/4 cups chow mein noodles
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crispy rice cereal

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.

2. Measure out 1 cup chow mein noodles and break them into small pieces. Break the remaining noodles into 2-inch pieces. These will be the spiders’ legs. Set the noodles aside in separate groupings.

3. Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a medium-size saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar, cereal, and the small chow mein noodle pieces until blended. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Drop the chocolate mixture by tablespoons in a slightly oblong shape (the body of the spider) onto the prepared baking sheet. You will have about 30 bodies, about 2 inches in size. Immediately insert the noodle legs into the spider bodies, 4 on one side and 4 on the opposite side. Space them evenly apart. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the spiders until hardened, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Once chilled, remove them from the waxed paper by pushing up from the underside of the waxed paper.

Store the spiders in a plastic storage container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Here’s something to remember when you’re making orange-colored frosting: Use drops of yellow
and red food coloring in a 3 to 1 ratio, adding for example, 6 drops yellow and 2 drops red.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Once the frosting for the cupcakes is made, reserve a small amount of it to pipe on each spider for its eyes.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Makes 2 1/2 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes (2 1/2-inch size)
Preparation time: 5 minutes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (see “the Cupcake Doctor says” below)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla.

2. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

 

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