Ghouly Cupcakes

  • For the cupcakes
  • 165g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 120ml root beer, flat
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 175g plain flour
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g sour cream
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • For the icing
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp banana essence, or more to taste
  • 1 to 2 drops of pastel food colouring, optional
  • Candied eyeballs
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line standard muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

2) Put the butter, root beer and cocoa in a microwave proof bowl, cover with cling film and microwave on high for about 2 mins, until the butter melts. Stir to combine. Alternatively, melt together in a saucepan over a low heat.

3) Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a large bowl.

4) In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla.

5) Whisk the hot cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir in the sour cream mixture just to combine; take care not to overmix. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cases, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 25 mins. Cool the cupcakes completely in the tin on a rack. Remove from liners and return cakes to a rack.

6) For the icing: Bring about 5cm of water to the boil in a pan large enough to fit a mixer's heat proof bowl above the water. Whisk the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 mins. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until eggs beat up into a cool stiff meringue, about 5 mins. Add a few drops of desired essence and/or food colouring and lightly beat into the meringue.

7) For decorating: Using a spoon, offset spatula or piping bag, dollop, spread or pipe meringue on top of each cupcake to make a ghost or monster of your choice. Decorate with candied eyeballs or other candies. These can be finished 2 to 3 hrs in advance and held at room temperature.

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