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Vampire Cupcakes

vampire cupcake

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.

Although I made these cupcakes for Halloween, these would also be perfect to serve at a Twilight movie party, as would a batch of my vampire cookies.

vampire cupcake: money shot

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!

Vampire Cupcakes
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.

Marshmallow Frosting
(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.

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  • Julie O'Hara
    October 17, 2007

    Too cute! I love Halloween because my birthday is on Oct. 29. I used to have costume parties when I was a kid and I always wanted my mom to decorate my cake with pumpkins. These would have been way cooler. You’ve got me thinking about cupcakes now. I did a couple for my blog several months ago, but it’s been awhile. Great recipe!

  • meeso
    October 18, 2007

    These are so neat! What a great idea for Halloween!

  • Curt
    October 18, 2007

    You have no idea how cool I think these are… I’m a HUGE vampire fan. Not to the point of having vampire decorations, but I’ll watch any vampire move that comes along. These would be perfect to have while watching Underworld or Blade!

  • Mallow
    October 18, 2007

    Those are hilarious, but I have to think they probably taste good too – canned cherry pie filling is one of my secret favorite foods in the world!

  • BC
    October 19, 2007

    This is a great idea and fun too.

  • David B.
    October 19, 2007

    I’m thinking red velvet cake (aka blood cake) would be a great cake alternative to this recipe.


    David B.

  • Sunshine
    October 19, 2007

    These are awesome! Perfect for the third-grade Halloween party!

    My gran used to call that frosting 7-Minute frosting, for the amount of time you cook it.

  • Cindy
    October 19, 2007

    You could even use different colors of icing for different skin tones – equal oppotunity vampires.

  • bri
    October 19, 2007

    What fun! I love that not only do the cakes have bit makes, but you take it to the next level with filling them so they bleed. Awesome! I’m totally going to have to make them for a party sometime. Thanks for following your nose and getting to the bottom of a good vampire cupcake. Those cartoony ones you found were way lame, compared to what you did.

  • Cedar
    October 19, 2007

    That is such a cute idea! They look incredibly tasty as well.

  • Sophia
    October 20, 2007

    I am sooo going to try these! They look (and probably taste) incredible!

  • Nicole
    October 20, 2007

    Saw this was on Boing Boing! Cool! 🙂

  • Anna
    October 22, 2007

    I just made a batch of these for a pumpkin carving party we hosted tonight at our house and all I can say is WOW! The cupcakes: most gorgeous batter I’ve ever made and they taste incredible. The frosting: unique and a fun alternative to the normal frostings we use. The filling and bite marks: everyone FLIPPED when they bit into these puppies only to have red “blood” dribble down their chins. Rave reviews all around! Fun to make, fun to serve, fun to eat! Thanks so much!

  • Celia
    October 23, 2007

    I really want to make these, but don’t think I’ll be able to find cherry pie filling in Australia (if any Australians think differently, please let me know!). Do you think you could substitute a nice quality jam, if you make it a little runny? I guess that’s going to soak into the cake a bit more.

  • Nicole
    October 24, 2007

    Celia – Jam should work fine in this recipe. Just be sure to puree it well if there are bits of fruit in it. Good luck!

  • Lauren
    October 24, 2007

    Celia – thank you! I tried grabbing raspberries and used that – which worked, although it’s a little more purple than what I’d like – but it was just a bit too runny. I’m going to experiment and try and find a white chocolate icing to go with it that will be white enough, as I think that will go really well with the raspberries 🙂

  • Lauren
    October 24, 2007

    Hrm, or strawberry jam and then cream on top…. *strokes chin*

  • Ali
    October 25, 2007

    I’m also from Australia and was wondering what I could sub for the cherry pie filling – can you let me know what they taste like with the jam. That soundslike a good idea I just wonder if if would be too much of a mouthful of jam?

  • Celia
    October 30, 2007

    I ended up getting some canned cherries in syrup, and blending up a mixture of mostly cherries, some of the syrup, and some thick cherry jam. It worked well, although by the next day it had soaked into the cake a bit and solidified so it didn’t drip out after being bitten into.

  • sabrina
    October 31, 2007

    Hi! I just wanted to say — I found this page several days ago via, IIRC, BoingBoing, and I made the cupcakes and took them to work today, and they were a big hit! Though, I subbed raspberry pie filling instead (mmm, raspberry), and I made some vegan cupcakes as well for a colleague with dairy allergies — the filling and icing worked just as well for those, too. The cakes themselves were awesome, though, I have to say. Really great recipe here. Thanks 🙂

    My photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sldownard/sets/72157602796852163/ if you’d like to see. 🙂

  • Mike
    November 1, 2007

    Thank you for the fantastic idea. I made some of these with a white butter/cream cheese frosting to take to a party last night and they were a big hit.

  • Jaime
    November 13, 2007

    I made these but I cheated… I used canned white frosting and a box mix! I was in a time crunch, but I also needed something with high-altitude directions (I’m in Boulder). Anyway, I used raspberry filling, and it was great, but what I also did was a theme… I added piped-on lettering for the various blood types, and called it “Sample Day at the Blood Bank”. Big hit…thanks for the idea! 🙂

  • Jaime
    November 13, 2007

    Oh just a follow up… I used raspberry filling, but used a little water because it was really thick…really just a teaspoon or so at a time until it got the right consistency. It wasn’t too thick, but it didn’t soak into the cakes either. That’s all… thanks! 🙂

  • lowrah
    December 8, 2007

    This is the first recipe of yours that I tried, after I saw you on BoingBoing. At first I thought it was just a super cute idea that I could give the neighbor kids for Halloween, but it is so much more than a great idea! The frosting is now a favorite of mine, I even put it on your gingerbread skeleton cookie recipe- awesome. The buttermilk in the cupcakes makes them a little more like a cake and less like a spongy cupcake and they are perfect vehicles for the sweet red filling. I have made these a few times without the “blood” and they are still very yummy.

  • KELLYO.o
    February 7, 2008

    this looks so cool!i would print but im afraid of the color.but since i LOVE VAMPIRES,i might

  • sage
    July 8, 2008

    I made these for a local HorrorPunk band here, Insides Out.
    They’re delicious and if left in the fridge for a few days the filling soaks into the cupcake-
    but thats okay because it changes the flavor and texture of the cake into a honeycakelike mouth raper.
    They loved them so much they wanted me to help them make some for them to sell.

  • Gina
    October 27, 2008

    I am soooo excited to make these. My daughter and many, many of her friends are all into the Twilight book series, by Stephenie Meyers. I am going to make these as Halloween treats for her to share with her girlfriends at lunch. I am sure they’ll be a hit!

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