Halloween is a great excuse to have some fun with your baked goods. This could include everything from throwing a bunch of leftover snack-sized candy bars into your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe or creating some elaborately decorated cakes. I’ve found inspiration in vampires and in swamps before, but this time around I found inspiration in a classic Halloween candy and used its subtle flavors and vibrant color palate to make some festive Candy Corn Mini Cakes that are sure to be a hit at any fall party, spooky or otherwise!
These mini cakes are inspired by candy corn, and while they aren’t quite bite-sized themselves, they certainly are tiny compared to a full size layer cake! The cakes a flavored with honey and vanilla, giving them a subtle complexity without making them too sweet. You don’t want the cakes to be overly sweet because these little layers are covered in quite a bit of frosting! The frosting is also flavored with honey and vanilla, giving it a richer sweetness than a plain buttercream recipe. I also added in a small pinch of salt, which helps the flavor of the honey stand out just a bit more against the butter and sugar.
I frosted these cakes in much the same way that I frost my ombre cakes, which actually makes the frosting process quick and easy. To get the look, I piped thick rows of yellow, orange and white frosting on the sides of the cake. You can also spread your icing on with a small offset spatula. This initial layer doesn’t need to look perfect. I also added white frosting to the top of the cake. Once the rows were in place, I held my offset spatula vertically against the side of the cake and turned my decorating turntable (you can also use a plate or cake stand) so that the icing spread out and evened into a smooth, even frosting. I like having a bit of imperfection on the cakes because it makes them look homemade, so don’t worry if your colors aren’t perfectly even. After all – even the layers on real candy corn are not uniform!
This recipe will make eight mini layer cakes, each suitable for a single serving or large enough to share if you are serving more than one dessert. The cakes will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container once they have been frosted, so they can be prepared in advance if you intend to serve them at a party. I used a mini whoopie pie pan because it gives me the perfect size and shape for these layer cakes, however if you don’t have one, you can use a mini muffin tin (nonstick and well-greased) instead, scooping just a tablespoon of batter into each cavity.
Candy Corn Mini Cakes
14 tbsp all purpose flour (1 cup minus 2 tbsp)
2/3 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 24-cavity mini whoopie pie pan*
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In medium bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, vegetable oil, honey and vanilla extract. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Whisk in remaining flour mixture and stir just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pan, filling one row of cavities with each color of batter.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few small crumbs attached.
Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 mini cake layers
*If you don’t have a mini whoopie pie pan, you can use a well-greased mini muffin tin and just add a scant tablespoon to each cup for similarly small cakes.
Candy Corn Frosting
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
orange and yellow food coloring
In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk, honey, vanilla extract and salt until well-combined. Gradually blend in confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick, smooth and has a spreadable consistency.
Divide batter into three small bowls. Leave one portion of the batter white. Color another portion with yellow food coloring until if is a vibrant yellow. Color the remaining frosting with orange food coloring.
Since yellow is the base of a candy corn, sandwich two mini layers together with a small smear of yellow frosting. Place a dollop of orange frosting on the top layer and place a third cake layer on top. Press cakes together gently but firmly. Place layered cakes on a cake stand or cake decorating table.
If desired, you can apply a thin crumb coat of white frosting and chill your cakes for 10 minutes. This will give you a smoother surface to work on. If you prefer to skip it, that is fine, too.
Pipe or spread a band of yellow icing around the base of the cake. Pipe or spread a band of orange icing around the center of the cake. Pipe or spread a band of white icing around the top of the cake, and finish the top of the cake with more white icing. Holding your offset spatula vertically, gently press it into the icing on the side of the cake and rotate your plate/spin your turntable to start to smooth out the icing until it has a smooth, even finish.
8 mini layer cakes