Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Royal Icing Decorations

Halloween Cupcake

Makes 12-14 cupcakes

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Prepare one pan (or maybe two) with cupcake liners.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between each time. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment; add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream and whisk on medium speed until smooth (about 1 minute).

In a medium sized bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined.

Add the cooled butter/chocolate to the stand mixer and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, about ¼ cup at a time with the stand mixer on low.

As soon as you are done adding the flour turn the mixer off. You do not want to over-mix! The batter will be very thick.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes. The center of the cupcake should spring back up if gently pressed.

Ingredients-Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
ColorKitchen Powder, red and yellow

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until very smooth on medium speed. Turn the mixer down and slowly add the powdered sugar a little at a time. If your frosting seems thin add more sugar. If your icing seems stiff add a tablespoon of milk. Mix red and yellow Color Kitchen powders into a little bowl with water or glycerin to form a smooth orange paste. Starting slowly add the orange paste to the frosting until you like the color. 

Using a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, put a star tip into the bottom. Fill bag with frosting and frost your cupcakes.

Ingredients-Royal Icing for Decorations
2 egg whites
2 lb icing sugar sifted (not all may be used)
1 tsp lemon juice
ColorKitchen food coloring powders

Combine egg whites and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add some of the sifted icing sugar to the mixture and start the mixer.

Keep adding icing sugar a little at a time. When the mixture looks like thick whipped cream and makes soft peaks when you push down the hooks/paddle in it, you can use it for piping. 

When you have the soft peak icing, you start to only add 2 tbsp of icing sugar at a time because from now on the icing will get more and more stiff. When you can pull out small stiff peaks the icing is ready. Cover the icing with cling film and a lid or wet cloth and store it in the fridge.

Runny icing:

Take some royal icing (stiff made) into a bowl and start mixing it with water, a few drops at the time. Continue this until the icing is thin and liquid. It should be smoothing out when you lift the spoon. The mixing with the water will most likely cause many air bubbles in the icing, so it is always good to cover up the icing and let it “rest” for 30 min. Then give it a slow stir and you have reduced the amount of air bubbles in your icing.

Divide your royal icing between a few small bowls for coloring. Mix your Color Kitchen powders with a little water or glycerin to form a smooth paste. I added red and yellow to make orange for the pumpkins. Begin slowly adding the color paste to your royal icing until you like the color.

Using a black felt tip pen draw shapes on a sheet of parchment paper. I searched google images to find Halloween clip art to print out and use to trace the shapes of pumpkins, ghosts, cats etc…Once you have the shapes drawn on your sheet of parchment, cover that sheet with a clean sheet of parchment. This will be the sheet you pipe your royal icing onto. Using the technique in the video below. The dark brown decorations were made with dark chocolate. Pipe a triangle “stem” onto the bottom of each decoration so you have something to stick down into the frosting.

Excellent video showing the technique for icing cookies with royal icing.

- Recipe by chef Rose Archer