How to theme Halloween cupcakes

Anthea Leonard's spooky cupcakes.
Anthea Leonard's spooky cupcakes. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Chocolate cupcakes

Makes 12

  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 tbs quality cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract)

Basic icing*

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups icing sugar – sifted

Preheat oven to 170C. Place sifted flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and salt in a free-standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix together, then add the butter (cubed or thinly sliced), and mix again on a slow to medium speed until you have a sandy consistency.

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg and vanilla, then slowly pour half the liquid into the flour mixture. Beat to combine at a slow speed, then increase the speed until the mixture is smooth and lump free.

Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining liquid. Mix for a few minutes until combined. Be careful not to over-mix.

Spoon mixture into 12 patty pans in a medium-sized muffin tin and bake for 15-20 mins (or until tops of cupcakes spring back when touched). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, to make the icing, place whites and lemon juice in a bowl, and using an electric mixer, mix until just combined.

While on a low speed, gradually add sifted icing sugar, a little at time. When the icing is smooth, increase the speed to medium and keep mixing until the consistency is like whipped cream (if you can create peaks when placing a spatula in the bowl it will work well for piping.

* Please note: if not using the royal icing immediately, ensure it's transferred to an air tight container straight away, as it will dry out and become unusable when exposed to air for a while. To pipe the icing, spoon it into a plastic bag with just the tiniest corner nipped out on one end.

Decorating ideas

Redback spiders

Mix some black food colouring into your icing and spread over the cupcake. Pipe white icing over a black iced cupcake to create a spider web, and use a red Smartie with liquorice legs for the spider.

Hairy huntsmen

Make a scary treat by covering a cupcake in a chocolate ganache, draping liquorice legs over the top (also covered in the ganache) and showering the cake with chocolate sprinkles.

Spooky face

Spread cupcakes with white icing and when set, pipe on haunted eyes and a sewn-up mouth using black icing (pictured).

Black cats

Mix black food colouring into some royal icing, spread over the cupcake. Find some flat liquorice to cut triangles for the ears and nose and white round sweets that could be used for the eyes.