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Creepy Crawler Halloween Cupcakes

Devil’s food cupcakes are a fitting base for these Halloween cupcakes with a spider web design. For a fun, festive touch, the glaze for making the spider webs can be tinted light orange with food coloring paste.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the milk chocolate glaze:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped

For the vanilla glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. milk, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

12 gummy or licorice spiders (see note)

To make the cupcakes, preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the milk chocolate glaze, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, corn syrup and salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate; let stand for 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the chocolate glaze to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

To make the vanilla glaze, in a bowl, whisk together the 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, the 2 Tbs. milk and the vanilla until smooth; the glaze should be spreadable. If it seems too thick, whisk in additional milk a few drops at a time; if it seems too thin, whisk in additional confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp. at a time. Use immediately. Place the glaze in a parchment paper cone or small pastry bag fitted with a fine writing tip.

Spoon the chocolate glaze over the cupcakes. Using the vanilla glaze, create spider web designs: Pipe concentric circles onto the top of a cupcake. Lightly draw the tip of a wooden skewer, toothpick or paring knife from the center of the cupcake outward to the edge, occasionally alternating the direction, if you wish. For the cleanest look, wipe the tip of the skewer after each draw.

The glazed cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing. Arrange the spiders on or around the cupcakes and serve. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Note: You can use gummy spiders to decorate the cupcakes, but for a more realistic—and creepier—look, make your own spiders out of licorice candies. Cut 36 one-inch lengths of black licorice laces, then halve each piece lengthwise. Using a wooden skewer, poke 3 holes on each side of 12 licorice drops, then insert a licorice lace piece into each hole.

Adapted from Cupcakes, by Shelly Kaldunski (Weldon Owen, 2008).