I haven’t lost my marbles yet. In fact, I’d like to think I know exactly where my marbles and my wits are. I’ve just set them gently aside for the moment, so that I can arrange my headspace with more pressing matters. Namely, Halloween and things that end in -ocolate.
Oh and filling things with buttercream. Apparently.
Dressing dark chocolate cupcakes in spooky, somewhat devilish duds reminds me of my sister C’s birthday a few years ago. I was hell-bent on hosting a slumber party for her and a handful of her friends, and seeing as how her birthday cuddles up so closely to Halloween, the theme just had to involve us decorating mini cakes as witches, ghosts, and ghouls. It also absolutely had to involve me making five homemade pizzas and eating the legal limit of buttercream. A different story for a different day.
To put it plainly: I’m obsessed with holiday baking. Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, my birthday (can’t believe that’s not nationally recognized yet), and any other color-themed day of the year that might garner a greeting card. I am similarly obsessed with making homemade greeting cards. And glitter-gluing my bedroom. But again, a different story for a different day.
Remember that time I made homemade Hostess cupcakes? Well I certainly hope so because it was only two days ago, and if you start losing your marbles too, well…we’ll be in bad shape to say the least.
I used the same cupcake recipe here and matched it with the same buttercream, only this time I decided to give more credibility to the orange tinted cream by flavoring it with a just a droplet or two of orange extract. Now, I’m really not one for fruit mingling with my chocolate. In general, a chocolate orange candy would earn you the stink eye. But here, the orange is humble and hinted at. It doesn’t hit you over the head with citrus flavor, and that’s just the gentle chord I was hoping to strike here. I’d even say that the slight sunny notes of orange really bring out the richness, the intensity, of the chocolate. Try it for yourself and see. But be warned, you only need the teensiest of drops to flavor your frosting.
Use these chocolate cupcake and buttercream recipes for your base.
If you’d like, remove the centers like I did with the cream-filled Hostess cupcakes, and fill the middles with orange-hued buttercream. After you’ve achieved the color you’re going for, add just a droplet of orange extract to the bowl and stir well to combine. Taste to see if you’re happy with that level of citrus flavor before adding any more.
Now, pipe the buttercream into the centers of the cupcakes if you’d like (though you certainly do not have to), and then, using a butter knife, spread two tablespoons of orange buttercream on top. Try to smooth the surface as best as you can.
Then, using a black decorating icing, like this kind from Betty Crocker, make a dot in the center, then two or three rings surrounding that dot, almost like a dart board.
Use either a very sharp knife point or a toothpick and pull outward from the center black dot to create your cobweb, repeating around the cupcake about six or so times.
And there you have it! Serve these orange and black cakes at a festive Halloween gathering, or consider re-watching Hocus Pocus for the umpteenth time with a cupcake and a glass of milk. Both are very valid ways to enjoy them.