Halloween is nearly upon us, and we dare you to give cupcakes a taste of the macabre.
From witches to bloodshot eyes to skulls and worms, there are plenty of decorating ideas that kids and adults can really sink their teeth into.
You can make cupcakes from a standard mix or try our Spiced Pumpkin Cupcake recipe. Plus decorating inspiration is everywhere, from Halloween stores to candy supply stores. You’ll find skull and bones candies, bat and spider gummies and Halloween molds featuring ghosts, witches and more.
Let your imagination run wild. This year, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than $8 billion on Halloween, from costumes to candy to decorations and more.
So here are creepy cupcake ideas to get you started.
• Ghoulish graveyard: Frost a cupcake. Select a cookie with a rounded end to use as a tombstone. With black icing, write R.I.P. on the cookie. Position the tombstone on top of the cupcake, pushing it in slightly. Sprinkle green-tinted coconut on the top of the cupcake. Then sprinkle with chocolate cookie crumbs to simulate dirt.
• Witch’s cauldron: Make orange or lime gelatin by dissolving it in the boiling water as required. Do not add the cold water. Pour the gelatin into a 10-by-15-inch pan with 1-inch sides. Chill for three hours or until firm. Hollow out the center of a cupcake about 1 inch deep to within about a quarter-inch of the sides. Pipe black icing along the top, about one-quarter inch high. Cut firm gelatin into chunks and place in the hollowed-out cupcake. Add candy skulls and bones or other creepy shapes. Attach a piece of black lace licorice for the cauldron’s handle. Insert a piece of black licorice for the spoon that stirs the brew.
• Witch’s finger: Frost a cupcake. Place a small, snack-size piece of flat taffy about 2 inches long between pieces of plastic wrap. Roll with your hands to shape into a finger. Make an indentation in the fingertip and place a small red or black jelly bean into the indentation for the nail. Bend the finger to make it look crooked, and position it on the cupcake.
• Bloodshot eyeball: Use a puffy cupcake. Frost the top with vanilla frosting. Attach a sugared eyeball from a candy supply store. In a small bowl, tint a small amount of icing red. Pipe lines of icing out from the eyeball.
• Spider’s web: Frost a cupcake. Melt semisweet dark and white chocolate candy melts in separate bowls. On a piece of parchment or waxed paper, pipe concentric circles of chocolate, alternating dark and white. Lightly drag a toothpick through the chocolate starting at the center and continuing around every quarter-inch or less. This creates a spiderweb. If the chocolate hardens, microwave it for about five seconds to soften it enough to drag the toothpick through. Remove it from the paper and place on the top of the cupcake. Add cinnamon raisins to simulate bugs caught in the web.
• Ghosts in the graveyard: Melt white chocolate or white candy melts. Use a mold to make the ghost (or other scary design) and place the molded chocolate ghost on top of a frosted cupcake. You also can pipe melted chocolate in the shape of a ghost on top of a frosted cupcake. Sprinkle with flaked coconut tinted green for grass.
• Witch’s hat: Pipe a thick layer of green frosting on top of a cupcake, at least one-half inch high. Use a whole ice cream cone for a large pointed hat or cut a section off a cone with a serrated knife for a shorter hat. Use red hots for eyes, a chocolate chip for the nose and a piece of licorice for the mouth. Use rope black licorice for hair or cut flat licorice into shreds. Stick hair under the hat.
• Ghosts on broomsticks: Frost a cupcake with fudge or black frosting. Unroll a fruit roll strip. On the long side, cut 1/2-inch-long fringe. Cut the roll into 2-inch pieces. Wrap a piece around one end of a pretzel stick and press so it holds together. Place broomsticks on parchment or waxed paper. Melt white chocolate candy melts. Spoon melted chocolate onto the pretzels to resemble ghosts. Use miniature chocolate chips for eyes and mouths. Freeze for five minutes or until set. Place the broomstick on the cupcake. (Adapted from Woman’s Day Halloween Celebrations, 2005.)
• Spooky spider: Use a puffy cupcake and frost with black or fudge frosting. Cut black licorice into 8 pieces about 2 to 3 inches long for the legs. Insert four legs on each side of the cupcake. Use red hots for the eyes. Sprinkle the top with chocolate sprinkles.
• Wicked worms: Frost a cupcake. Attach several gummy worms to the top, pressing them into the frosting. Sprinkle with chocolate cookie crumbs to simulate dirt or flaked coconut tinted green for grass.
• Ghoulish gums: Use two sets of gummy teeth for edible fangs. You may need to trim the teeth to make them look more fang-like, but try not to handle them too much, because the teeth will become sticky. Slice the top of the cupcake horizontally, almost all the way through. Use melted candy melts or frosting to glue the top teeth to the slice and the bottom teeth to the cupcake. Place a gummy worm or other ghoulish item in the teeth. Frost the top slice with dark frosting.
• Debonair devil: Tint frosting bright red with food coloring and frost a cupcake. Add mini-chocolate chips for eyes and a red hots candy for a nose. Cut red gum drops into quarters for horns. Pipe on eyebrows, a moustache and goatee using melted chocolate. Use chocolate sprinkles for hair. (Adapted from “A Ghostly Good Time: The Family Halloween Handbook,” Woman’s Day Special Interest Publications, $10.99.)
• Sugar skulls: Mound black or fudge frosting on top of a cupcake. Scatter chocolate sprinkles and green-tinted flaked coconut on top. Make another mound of frosting and attach a sugared skull in the mound of frosting.