Introduction: Halloween Cupcakes

About: From time to time, I'll provide Amazon affiliate links. When you click on them, it helps me continue to contribute awesome Instructables.

Skulls, owls, mummies and brains; cupcakes and Halloween - a few of my favorite things!   I've included the best cupcake recipe* and  buttercream recipe** out there to help you whip up these fun Halloween cupcakes in no time.  Here are some great tips and tricks to make spooky skulls, eerie owls, macabre mummies and braaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnsssss that will appeal to zombies big and small!  These diabolically sweet snacks are sure to please all the ghouls and goblins in your life. Don your lab coat and fire up the ovens! It's time to get gruesome.

*thanks to - see, best cupcake recipe - it's built into the name!
** thanks to me and my own experimentation. You're welcome!

Step 1: Ingredients


You'll want some basic cupcake making devices for this endeavor:
  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Rubber spatula
  • Spoons
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Lag screws or marbles - something like that.  You know, to make the skull shapes.

Best Cupcake Recipe EVAR

Of course you can use a box mix to speed up this process, or your own stand-by recipe for perfect cupcakes.  But if you're looking for something new, look no further.  With a whole new technique and tangy taste, these vanilla cupcakes will blow your socks off!
  • 3 cups (360g) of flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks / 227g) of salted butter - room temperature
  • 2 cups (110g) of sugar
  • 1 TBSP +1 tsp (20mL) baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz / 237mL) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz  / 237 mL) of plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp. (10mL) vanilla extract

Can't Believe It's So Good and So Simple Buttercream Frosting Recipe

That's about all I need to say about it.  Only four ingredients and five minutes stand between you and frosting you'll actually want to eat with a spoon (this coming from someone who scrapes off the frosting to get to the good stuff!)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks / 227 g) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups(1 lb / 448 g)  of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz / 237mL) of milk
  • 2 tsp (10mL) of vanilla extract
  • Opt.  Chocolate chips
  • Opt. Food Coloring

Tasty Toppings

This can be left up to your imagination and will depend on what devilish devices you have planned!
I used M&Ms to create eyes, nostrils and beaks, Junior Mints for skully eye sockets, mini Oreos for owly eyes and red hots for special zing where needed.  Get creative with what you can find!

Step 2: Batter Up!

Let's make some cupcakes! 

Now pay attention, because this isn't going to go down like you expect.
  • First, place cupcake liners in the pan.  
    Okay, you probably expected that.
  • Now, preheat your oven to 500oF (260oC)
What?? Scooch have you lost your mind?  See, I know what you're thinking.  But no, I have not lost my mind!  This tip comes to me from a.nony.mouse via Cupcake Cones:

if you want the crowned tops to be as high as possible, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees F instead, and as soon as you put the cupcakes in there, lower the temperature to 350 and cook, it gets the crown nice and high! (it's the trick they use at bakeries on those giant cupcakes and muffins you always wished you could re-create!)

Now for some mixed-up mixing!
  • You don't need to sift the flour if you measured it properly like I taught you!  Stir in sugar and baking powder to combine well. 
  • Chop up your butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. 

Say what?  That's right. Add your butter to your dry ingredients. 
  • Now blend, blend, blend until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs. 
  • In a separate bowl, blend together eggs, milk, yogurt and vanilla extract. You have a whisk, you say?  Even better!  I just used my regular mixer beaters.  Get it nice and frothy.
  • Add this to the bowl with the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. 

Try to abstain from licking the beaters.  I can't condone eating uncooked eggs.  But if you slip and get some in your mouth by mistake - YUM!!  You'll notice right away what a unique tang the plain yogurt adds.  This flavor will mellow out in the baking process, but I kind of wish it didn't!

Step 3: Bolts and Baking

As you know, you need bolts to make good skulls.
Well, skull-shaped cupcakes.
Not just bolts, I guess. Could be lag screws like I had on hand.  Could be marbles as I've seen used before.  You know, whatever you got that isn't going to melt or smell funny while baking.
  • For Skull-shaped cupcakes, drop your implements into the cupcake pans on the OUTSIDE of the cupcake papers where you want the jaws to form. 
  • For non-skull-shaped cakelets, fill the cups 2/3 full, as is.
  • Place cupcakes in preheated oven and immediately lower the temperatureto 350oF (180oC)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops spring back when you poke 'em.

Step 4: Prepare Your Frosting

This technique for the most amazing buttercream recipe is going to require both your faith in me and some patience. 

Can we agree to this?  Prepare to be filled with disbelief before you are filled with awe. 

Let's go.

You know by now that cutting your room-temperature butter into chunks is essential to successful baking, so I won't even condescend to mention it to you.
  • Add your butter (1 cup, remember?)  to your powdered sugar (AKA confectioner's sugar, AKA icing sugar, AKA 10x sugar - never really understood that last one) (4 cups / 1 lb / one whole entire box, yes). 
  • Stir to fold the butter and sugar together.  This is only a preventative step to keep from creating an enormous dust storm when you introduce the mixer.  Not sure if it will work for you.  Never does for me, but heck, give it a go and let me know how it goes.
  • Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
This is the point where your faith will be tested.  At some point during minute two or three, you'll be ready to throw in the towel and crack open your can of Duncan Heinz.  DON'T DO IT.  Nothing can compare to the magic you are about to make when you just keep the mixer on for a moment more.
  • Once these two ingredients have been magically transformed into something that actually resembles frosting instead of the dusty, sticky mess is did two seconds ago, it's time to add the rest.
  • Add milk (1/2 c) and vanilla (2 tsp) and continue to blend on medium speed for one minute more.  

To make chocolate frosting:

  • Melt chocolate chips in a bowl - 14 oz to turn the full batch into chocolatey goodness, less if you're divvying it up.
  • Once the chips have cooled, stir into prepared buttercream frosting.  Adjust to taste!

To make colored frosting:

  • Add food coloring to suit your needs.  I didn't really need to make a whole step about that, did I.

Step 5: Go to Town!

On your cupcakes, I mean. Not literally.  Unless you need to pick something up from the market to finish them.  That's annoying when that happens, isn't it?  You end up using lag screws in your baking just to avoid another trip to the store!

For Skullcakes:
Junior MInts make great, quirky eye sockets, halved M&Ms stand in for nostrils, and sliced chocolate chips define teeth.
For Owlcakes:
Halved mini-Oreos make great eyes with M&M pupils.  M's also make adorable beaks.  Pipe extra chocolate frosting into expressive furrows. 
For Mummies:
Red hots are great for spooky red eyes (M&Ms provide other colors), and white and chocolate buttercream frosting do the rest!
For Braaaaiiiiinnnnnns:
Mix red and green food coloring into the white butercream frosting.  Pipe zig-zag lines through the cut tip of a plastic baggie or piping bag.  If you have it, I imagine a flat icing tip would do wonders here.

Make sure to post pictures of your own fiendish creations.  Enjoy!
Halloween Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Contest