Spooky Chocolate Cupcakes

with vanilla buttercream

I know you’re all dying to talk about last night. The new Star Wars trailer came out. It’s got me even more pumped for the movie than I was before. ANNND tickets finally went on sale. I was not prepared for the shit show that was to come, let me tell you what. I was hunched over my laptop, clicking refresh, back, refresh, back, IMing Kramer, who was still at work, freaking out that I missed my chance and we weren’t going to get opening night tickets, when eventually, I got through on one page to one theater and bought the first pair of tickets I could get my hands on. Thankfully, they’re reserved seats, so while they may not be the best seats, I don’t have to worry about waiting in line for an entire day to get them. They’re mine, all mine. I also decided that we need to take a vacation day on that Friday, because I’ll be too hyped up after seeing The Force Awakens. I’ll need to go out and celebrate and have a few drinks, then, of course, see it again the next day. I already bought tickets for that, too. Leave nothing to chance. I am really, really excited, guys. I’ll probably watch that trailer at least five more times today.

spooky chocolate cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago, Urban Outfitters contacted me and asked if I would make a ~spooky~ Halloween recipe for their blog. They wanted cupcakes, specifically. I froze. I’m not really known for my decorating skills, but hey, why not challenge myself, right? I said yes, headed into my kitchen, and proceeded to tear it apart because I knew I had a ton of unused Halloween decorations laying around in some nook and cranny. I found sprinkles, black food coloring, and muffin cups. I was ready to go. I decided to go with something super cute and approachable, because hey, I’m no cake boss, but despite the relative ease that goes into decorating these little chubby ghost guys, I ended up liking them a lot! They’re so goofy looking and I swear that every time I looked at them on my counter, I broke out laughing. They all look as if they’re saying, “Help me.” Some look like they’re saying, “Booooo!” but most look like they need a friend. I love it. I brought them to a bar for some friends and everyone had the same reaction. You honestly cannot look at these and not smile. If you’re not a big fan of decorating cupcakes, look – you can do it. I promise. If I can do it, you can do it, and your reward is around 20 little ghostly friends that can’t wait to be eaten.

spooky chocolate cupcakesspooky chocolate cupcakesYour ingredients.

spooky chocolate cupcakesGlittery batter – fun, right? You can’t really tell, but I know it’s there and that makes me happy.

spooky chocolate cupcakesspooky chocolate cupcakesspooky chocolate cupcakesAdd your batter to your cupcake liners.

spooky chocolate cupcakesBake until set, then allow to cool.

spooky chocolate cupcakesWhile your cupcakes cool, make your frosting, starting by whisking together your sugar and egg whites in a double boiler.

spooky chocolate cupcakesPerfect frosting is just a ridiculous amount of whisking away!

spooky chocolate cupcakesDo your best to frost your cupcakes. It’s pretty easy to scrape the frosting off and fix. Believe me. I know.

spooky chocolate cupcakesSpooooooooky.

spooky chocolate cupcakesspooky chocolate cupcakesI like this little guy because he looks like he’s melting/dying, ha.

spooky chocolate cupcakesAnd remember – there’s no shame in just going the regular ol’ sprinkles route.

Spooky Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20-22 cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes with a hint of espresso, topped with ghostly clouds of perfect buttercream frosting.
  • For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup room-temperature water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons edible glitter (optional, but it's more fun this way)
For the Buttercream:
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¾ teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • black decorating gel, for the ghosts
  • sprinkles, if desired
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in your milk and water, beat to combine, then add in your eggs and beat to combine. Add in your vegetable oil and vanilla, then beat to combine, and finally, add in your glitter, if you're using it, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide your batter among 2 12-cup muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set. Allow the cupcakes to cool fully before frosting.
  2. While your cupcakes bake, make your buttercream. Whisk together your sugar and egg whites in a double boiler or in a medium-sized bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar has fully dissolved, around 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the mixture to your mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk the dissolved sugar and egg whites for 5 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix for another 8 minutes, until glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled.
  3. Add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, adding the next piece only after the first has been incorporated. After you've gotten halfway through, switch the attachment from a whisk to a beater. Keep adding the butter, piece by piece. The frosting may start to come apart and look clumped, but if that happens, just keep beating. Add in the vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate the frosting until you're ready to use it.
  4. To make the ghosts (once the cupcakes have cooled), add the buttercream to a pastry bag or a large Ziploc bag and cut off the tip. Swirl the frosting on top of each cupcake, and draw two eyes and a mouth on the "heads" of each of the ghosts, then decorate with sprinkles, if you like. These will keep well, at room temperature, for one day, or you can refrigerate the cupcakes for up to 48 hours.


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