Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween was always a beloved holiday growing up. My parents put a lot of effort into decorating the house, building scarecrows, adding cobwebs, really getting into the spirit. Our house was one of the spooky ones on the block, the lights turned off, a Halloween soundtrack playing loudly, and also one where the kids were sure to score big on candy.

One year my father sat in the bushes by the front door to hand out candy. When a group of trick-or-treaters would come up, he would stick his hand out from the bushes,
full of candy. This gave many that came to the door quite a start, but one woman was so startled, she ran off, (I'm told on her hands and knees) without her group.

And I always loved participating in Halloween. Thinking all throughout October for a good costumes, dressing up; in the earlier years going trick-or-treating, later on Halloween parties. And I continued to enjoy it until just a couple years ago. There is something about getting older that really just mellows out the excitement for this bizarre holiday, at least that has been my experience.

But then you see young trick-or-treaters, and it gets you back into it. Last weekend, I took my niece, who it ten, to two Halloween parties in one weekend. She dressed up for both of them, as Hit Girl (a very cool costume) went through haunted houses, laughed with and at sumo wrestlers, and cow girls, and she had a magical time. Because that's the whole fun of it, in a way, you get to interact with all kinds of monsters, and superheros and just other peoples creativity.

So while I am still not dressing up this year, I did make special cupcakes, with my niece, to celebrate this holiday. Not only are they a little gross and creepy, but they are also very rich, moist, and chocolate-y. Definitely worth a try.

Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes
with colored buttercream frosting
adapted from Joy of Baking

for the cake...
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
175 gr flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
for the frosting...
1 cup butter, room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Red and yellow liquid food coloring
decorations for the cupcakes (sprinkles, candy eyes, etc., up to your imagination)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two muffin tins with cupcake liners. I found some skull and crossbones themed ones at target, they were perfect for the occasion. Boil the cup of water, and add the cocoa, stir until completely smooth.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each time until completely integrated, then add the vanilla. With the mixer off, add the flour mixture, and mix on low. Evenly scoop the batter into the lined cups, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center of a mini cake. Allow to cool while making the frosting.
Beat the butter, and then add the sugar one cup at a time. For me, three cups of confectioners sugar was enough. Taste it, make sure it is the right consistency, and adjust. You can add a Tbs or two of milk if too thick. I didn't need any. Add vanilla. Then add about 6 drops of red, and yellow. Mix. Adjust the color as needed, adding more red to make it darker, and more yellow to bring out the orange. Place frosting in a piping bag, frost your cupcakes, and decorate as you see fit. Enjoy them, they are only good but once a year.