Looking for something fun to make for the kids this Halloween? These ghost cupcakes, recipe courtesy of Once Upon a Chef, are guaranteed to be hit and not just because they’re made with chocolate cupcakes, lollipops and fondant.
The cupcake is basically a one-bowl recipe. The frosting, modestly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, is fast and foolproof—a welcome change from most homemade chocolate frostings, which are temperamental and take hours to cool.
In case you’re not familiar with fondant, it’s the smooth, rollable icing that’s typically used on fancy wedding cakes. But don’t worry, you don’t have to make it from scratch — it’s easy to find at any craft store.
(if you don’t have time to make the cupcakes, you can buy a dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing from your favorite bakery)
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKES
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup boiling water
INGREDIENTS FOR THE FROSTING
- 8 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (see note)
- 2½ sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
- 1¼ cups Confectioners’ sugar
- ¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CUPCAKES
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Then, reduce the speed to low and gradually pour in the hot water (be careful to pour very slowly so it doesn’t splash). The batter will be soupy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl; mix again until evenly combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tins (they should be about halfway full). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
FOR THE FROSTING
- Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about three-quarters of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.
- In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the lukewarm chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Do not overmix. The frosting can be used immediately or held at room temperature for up to 3 hours.
- When the cupcakes are completely cool, use a small offset spatula or butter knife to swirl the frosting lavishly over top. The cupcakes are best enjoyed fresh on the day they are made, but they will keep for two days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Note: If making this cake for children, use milk chocolate for the frosting (Hershey or Lindt milk chocolate bars work well). Semi-sweet chocolate will lend a more intense chocolate flavor (Ghirardelli bars for baking are ideal).
MAKING THE GHOST TOPPING
- 2 pounds white buttercream fondant
- Cornstarch, for rolling the fondant
- 12 small lollipops, such as DumDums
- 1 small tube black decorating gel
ASSEMBLING THE GHOST CUPCAKES
- Dust your work surface and rolling pin lightly with cornstarch. Roll half of the fondant out into a large circle about 1/16-inch thick.
- Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter or paring knife, cut out circles. Gather any scraps into a ball; roll and cut again. Roll out the remaining fondant and repeat until you have 12 circles.
- Place each fondant circle over a lollipop and form into the shape of a ghost.
- Place each ghost lollipop into the center of a cupcake, pushing all the way down.
- Using the black decorating gel, squeeze out little eyes.