Happy Halloween! So I just want to say now that all these years before when I would do the ritual complaint of, “Things are so crazy busy around the holidays!” I was saying this without a kid. Now that I have a kid, I truly understand what CRAZY BUSY around the holidays mean.
No offense to those without kids, of course. I was happily laden down with endless to-do lists and ambitious holiday projects in my childless days. Now the problem is I still want to do all those things and tackle those personal goals…and play with my daughter and introduce her to the joys of the season as well. Something’s got to give, and it usually feels like it’s the baking.
That means I always get excited when I can combine multiple tasks together…like making these little chocolate Halloween ghost cupcakes for Isabelle’s daycare Halloween party. (I can’t wait until she’s old enough to start baking with me!) I didn’t feel quite as guilty working away on these knowing that she and her little friends would get to enjoy them in a day. (No, she doesn’t get to eat my desserts regularly yet, but given it’s Halloween, I’ll make this exception!)
Isabelle is actually learning about pumpkins and witches and ghosts at daycare, so hopefully she’s recognize the spooks haunting the tops of these cupcakes. They’re relatively quick to put together, and they’re mini size, so perfect for little kids!
The cupcakes are a mini version of these cupcakes I’ve made before. Near midnight-black, deeply chocolatey, this is probably my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. The frosting is a simple chocolate ganache; the equal proportions of chocolate and cream make for a thick, perfectly pipable icing. With just this frosting, you would have a respectably delicious cupcake, but since it’s Halloween, it needs a little more flair.
I toyed around with making soft meringue buttercream ghosts, but I decided that two layers of frosting would be too much ooey gooey sweet. I like the contrasting lightness and crunch these crisp little meringue toppers offer: they’re almost insubstantial, like ghosts should be. You can also make them ahead of time – they keep in an airtight container for a few days, ready to pop on top of the cupcakes when you make them.
Hope you have a sweet and spooky weekend!
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-in pieces
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup (3/4 oz) cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces sour cream
- 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 8 oz heavy cream
For the meringue:
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place egg whites in a clean stand mixer bowl. Whisk with whisk attachment on medium speed until foamy.
- Add cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add the sugar a bit at at time, letting it incorporate. The meringue should become stiff and glossy. When it holds stiff peaks, stop.
- Scoop meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe dollops of meringue onto the baking sheet. To keep the ghosts as vertical as possible, hold the bag vertically a little bit above the sheet instead of holding it close. Let the meringue flow out of the bag onto the sheet instead of pushing it onto the sheet and flattening the mound.
- Place in oven and bake for about 60 to 70 minutes until the meringues are dry and firm to the touch and are just starting to color.
- Turn off oven and let meringues stay inside overnight to finish drying out.
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24 cup mini muffin pan with baking-cup liners.
- Combine butter and chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate start to melt. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to combine.
- Whisk egg, sugar, and vanilla in a separate medium bowl until fully incorporated.
- Add cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until combined.
- Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is smooth and thick.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 11-13 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool.
For the ganache:
- Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.
- Place cream in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a minute.
- Slowly whisk the mixture until the chocolate is fully melted and combined.
- Let ganache sit for about an hour until it has cooled and thickened enough to pipe. You can also place in refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
To finish the cupcakes:
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large (1/2" or larger) round tip with the ganache. Pipe over the tops of the cupcakes. Place a meringue on top of each cupcake.