Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spooky Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Icing

Halloween is still one of my favorite times of year. I love the decorations, costumes, pumpkin carving and of course the sweets. When my boys were younger, it was so much fun to dress them up in their costumes and take them trick-or-treating. As much as I wanted to dress them up in cute homemade costumes, they always wanted to be something scary and store bought. (They didn't have much faith in my costume making skills).

One of my best memories was when my youngest son, Nick, was two years old and still not quite old enough to understand what trick-or-treating was all about. We decided to take him for a quick trip around the block while his brothers went out with a group of friends. One of our neighbors was out taking her own kids trick-or-treating and had left a large bucket of candy on her porch with a note instructing kids to "take just one piece of candy" (yeah right!). Being too young to read, Nick saw the bucket full of candy, walked right up to it and promptly dumped all of his own candy into the bucket. With that, our night of trick-or-treating was done. While my secret plot to eat all of Nick's Snickers and M&M's was foiled, I got something even sweeter - the memory of a little boy selflessly giving away his Halloween candy.

Now that the boys are older, their tastes are more grown up. They actually prefer the flavor of dark chocolate over milk chocolate, but they still like their treats on the scary side. These cupcakes are made with dark cocoa with a hint of spice. The bittersweet chocolate ganache frosting is simple and not too sweet. They're so good it's scary.

Spooky Chocolate Spice Cupcakes
Adapted from The Craving Chronicals
Makes 12

Cupcake Ingredients:
1/2c fresh brewed coffee
1 stick unsalted butter
heaping 1/3 c unsweetened dark cocoa
1 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/3 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients:
3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 T confectioner's sugar
2 T unsalted butter cut into pieces

2 oz white chocolate chips (to make the spider webs)
1 c chocolate cookie crumbs or brownie crumbs (to simulate dirt)


Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 c muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Set aside.

Place the butter and coffee in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat sour cream and egg until well combined. Gradually add coffee/cocoa mixture, beating constantly until combined. Add flour mixture and beat slowly at low speed until just combined. Fold in mini-chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between the 12 cupcake liners. They will be a little more than 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 for approx 15-18 minutes or until done (toothpick inserted in center should come out clean). Cool cupcakes in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

To make icing:

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Remove from heat.

With a rubber spatula stir confectioner's sugar into the warm chocolate. Add butter a few pieces at a time, stirring until melted and incorporated.

Dip each cupcake top into the ganache. Spreading as needed.

To decorate:

Spiderwebs - in a small bowl melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave (microwave in 30 second intervals stirring well after each interval until melted). Scoop the melted chocolate into a small sandwich bag and cut a small hole in one corner of the bag to form a piping bag. Starting at the center of each cupcake and working your way outwards, pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake. Using a toothpick, start at the center and drag the toothpick through the spiral and icing several times to make a spiderweb.


Graveyard - make crumbs with the chocolate cookies or brownies. Top the cupcake with the crumbs and insert a paper tombstone that has been taped to a toothpick on top.

Note: If you don't have dark cocoa powder, you can use regular cocoa powder, you just won't have that dark chocolate taste. The flavor of the spices is very mild, but if you want to omit them, you can.

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