Ghost Cupcakes

These ghost cupcakes have a vanilla base with a fudgy chocolate frosting, some oreo dirt, and some ghostly spirits.

Celebrating Ghoulishness

We first visited our current neighborhood a few weekends before Halloween and were struck by how obsessed the residents seemed to be with the holiday. Our previous house had been on a busy street and we rarely got any trick-or-treaters. In our new neighborhood, on Halloween night, kids come streaming in from the surrounding areas. It’s the block party to end all block parties. The houses are decked out with all kinds of tombstones, ghosts, aliens, and spiders. When surrounded by such festive cheer, it’s hard not to get in a halloween-y spirit!

A Short History of Halloween

Halloween is now second to Christmas in terms of retail spending in America, but it has some distinctly uncommercial origins. The Celts originally celebrated Samhain on November 1, marking the end of summer and harvest, and the beginning of winter — a period associated with human death. They lit huge bonfires, wore costumes made of animal skins, and believed that the presence of the spirits of the dead gave the day special powers to predict the future. Through a long and windy history involving its sort-of-adoption by the Catholic church, and bypassing some Puritans, the Halloween holiday really arrived in American in the early 20th century, along with waves of Scottish and Irish immigrants. The holiday grew in popularity in the 1950s, when the post-war baby boom focused the holiday on children and community. Faced with some small miscreants making mischief on the holiday, many communities decided that it was better to bribe kids to stay off the street and make mischief (tricks) with small treats.

About this Recipe

These ghost cupcakes combine a couple of favorite recipes – a vanilla birthday cupcake from Smitten Kitchen, along with our favorite fudgy chocolate icing, to make a special holiday treat. If you were looking for an all-chocolate Halloween extravaganza, check out our chocolate graveyard dirt cake.

Recipe Facts

  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Active Time: 25 minutes
  • Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients for the Ghost Cupcakes

Meringue ghosts:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • black decorating icing

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Fudgy chocolate frosting:

  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/3 tsp vanilla extract

To assemble:

  • 6 milano cookies
  • 20 oreo cookies
  • gummi worms
  • black decorating icing

Instructions for the Ghost Cupcakes

For the meringue ghosts:

  1. Preheat oven to 225 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on low speed until broken up.
  3. Add the cream of tartar, and whip on medium speed until frothy.
  4. Add the sugar, and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Scrape the meringue into a piping bag with a large round tip.
  6. Pipe the ghosts by piping a large sphere, then lifting the tip up and piping a medium sphere, followed by a smaller sphere.
  7. Bake an hour and twenty minutes until hardened.
  8. Let cool thoroughly, then use the black gel icing to add eyes and a mouth.

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, beating well until combined.
  5. Add the buttermilk. Beat until well combined.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, beating until well combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake cups.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

For the fudgy chocolate frosting:

  1. In a metal bowl over simmering water, melt butter and chocolates. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine confectioners’ sugar, sour cream and vanilla.
  3. Stir in chocolate and beat until smooth.

For assembly:

  1. Scrape the white filling off the oreos and put the chocolate cookies. Place in a large ziploc bag and mash thoroughly using a rolling pin or pulse in food processor.
  2. Cut each milano in half and write “RIP” on each cookie half.
  3. Frost each cupcake, then decorate with a gravestone, a gummi worm, and a ghost.

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