It was a dark and stormy (read: there was a heavy drizzle) night when a discussion of Halloween costumes let to a discussion on Halloween baked goods. I already had a spiderweb chocolate tart and some pumpkin muffins planned, but I wanted to come up with something dramatic. Something impressive. Something that a dark and spooky holiday – albeit a candy-centric one – deserved. And something that involved vampires, since a good vampire costume is always my favorite at Halloween.
Vampire cupcakes sounded perfect.
I knew I wanted a white cupcake (vampires are pale, after all) and had a recipe in mind to use already. The question that remained to be answered was how I was going to decorate it. There are a ton of articles, primarily in family-oriented magazines, that describe how to make a cartoony vampire face on top of a cupcake. I rifled through them feeling unsatisfied. Then I found a picture of some cupcakes on a blog called horror gourmet that really struck a chord with me and I decided to make a cupcake that not only looked like it had been bitten into by a vampire, but that would bleed when you bit into it!
I baked my cupcakes, used the cupcake-filling technique I used on my devil’s food cupcakes to fill the cakes up with pureed cherry pie filling (canned or homemade) and topped them off with white icing to best accentuate the red bite marks. I made the marks using a skewer dipped in leftover cherry filling, making sure to leave a clear impression of a fang bite, rather than just a red streak on top of the cake.
The result was even better than I could have hoped for. They looked fantastic and tasted even better. The cherry filling worked surprisingly well in the vanilla cupcake and didn’t get absorbed by the cake at all, so it stayed nice a runny even after two days (how long the batch lasted before being devoured). The recipe makes 18 cupcakes, but you will probably have leftover filling and frosting, especially if you opt for canned cherry pie filling, so feel free to bake up a second batch to use everything up.
Update: I made a YouTube Video that shows exactly how I made these cupcakes and walks you through the steps! Take a peek at How to Make Vampire Cupcakes, the video!
2 cups cake flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 large egg whites
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins (you will need 18 cups total) with paper liners and set aside.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and blend, using the paddle attachment (You can use a hand mixer, too).
Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and drop into the bowl with the flour mixture.Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chunks of butter remain, 1-2 minutes.
In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat lightly with a fork until combined. With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Continue to beat at low speed for an additional 30 seconds, until liquid is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds, if necessary.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling 18 cups as equally as possible.
Bake for 16-20 minutes, until cupcakes are light golden and a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 18 cupcakes.
1 can cherry pie filling
Puree cherry pie filling – a syrupy mix of sugar and cherries, usually – in a food processor until fairly smooth. Very small pieces of cherries are ok.
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found here.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the cherry filling and spoon about tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with filling. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “blood” filling in place.
(previously used on Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup water
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk sugar, egg whites, 1/3 cup water, light corn syrup, and cream of tartar in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water). Using handheld electric mixer, beat on medium speed until mixture resembles soft marshmallow fluff, about 5-7 minutes.
Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is very smooth and thick, about 3 minutes longer. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Add vanilla extract and continue beating until marshmallow frosting is completely cool, about 5-7 minutes longer.
Using a butter knife or a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with a layer of the cooled marshmallow frosting by placing a dollop of icing in the center of the cupcake (on top of the cut out circle of cake) and spreading from the center to the sides of the cupcake.
Dip a wooden toothpick or skewer into some leftover cherry pie filling and poke two fang-holes, about 3/4 inch apart, in the frosting on one side of the cupcake. Dribble a little extra filling from the holes for effect.
Repeat until all cupcakes are frosted and decorated. You will probably have frosting leftover for another batch if you are baking more.
Makes 18 vampire cupcakes.