From Juliet Stallwood’s The Icing on the Cake.
Happy Halloween! Try these cute ghost cupcakes, which are perfect for halloween parties and sure to be loved by adults and the kids. You can change the expressions of the ghosts by altering the position of the pupils and changing the shape of the mouths.
Mini Ghost Cakes
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
For the Rich Chocolate Cupcakes
50g/1¾oz salted butter
25g/1oz dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
1 tsp coffee extract
25ml/½fl oz milk
25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup self-raising flour
25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cocoa powder
75g/2½oz/scant ¹⁄³ cup caster sugar
For the Vanilla Sugar Syrup
100g/3½oz/scant ½ cup caster sugar
For the Vanilla Buttercream
65g/2¼oz/1/2 cup icing sugar
65g/2¼oz salted butter, softened
icing sugar, for dusting
1kg/2lb 4oz white sugar paste
edible glue or cooled, boiled water
25g/1oz black-coloured sugar paste
You Will Need
muffin tin lined with 6 paper cupcake cases
small serrated knife
6 x 7.5cm/3in round cake cards
small offset palette knife
small rolling pin
12.5cm/5in circle cutter
5mm/¼in marzipan spacers (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the coffee extract to the pan and stir until combined, then pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a jug, lightly beat together the egg and milk. Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, stirring to combine. In another bowl, sift together the flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder. Gradually add small quantities of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, making sure it is well incorporated before adding more. Add the sugar and stir until combined – the mixture should be fairly runny by this stage.
3. Divide your cake mixture evenly into the cupcake cases, filling each one about two-thirds full – to allow room for the cupcakes to rise. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes, or until the top of the cakes spring back slightly when gently pressed with a finger.
4. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack, then remove the cupcakes from the paper cases.
5. To make the sugar syrup, put the sugar and 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, without stirring. Leave to cool.
6. To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and beat for 5 minutes until pale, light and fluffy.
7. Using the serrated knife, carefully trim off the domed tops of each cupcake to create a flat stable base for the ghost cakes. Reserve the domed tops and leave to one side until needed. Turn the cupcakes upside down and attach a cake card to the base of each one with a little buttercream.
8. Lightly brush the top and side of each cupcake with a little sugar syrup. Using the offset palette knife, spread a thin layer of buttercream, followed by a layer of jam, over the top of each cupcake, then place the reserved domes on top, trimming as necessary to create a neat dome shape. Clean the offset palette knife, then use it to cover each cake with the remaining buttercream. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours until set.
9. Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, then knead half of the white sugar paste until it is soft and pliable. Roll out the kneaded sugar paste quite thinly and stamp out 6 circles with the 12.5cm/5in circle cutter. Carefully lift an icing circle and gently place it over one of the cakes, taking care not to stretch or pull it. Use your hands to smooth it over the top and side, making sure to smooth out any air bubbles. Trim off any excess sugar paste at the base of the cake with the sharp knife. Use the scriber to prick out any remaining air bubbles in the sugar paste.
10. Dust the work surface with a little more icing sugar, then knead the remaining white sugar paste until it is soft and pliable. Roll out the kneaded sugar paste until it is 5mm/¼in thick, using marzipan spacers if you like, and stamp out 6 more circles with the 12.5cm/5in circle cutter. Roll over each circle with a small rolling pin to make the sugar paste slightly thinner. Brush the top of each cake with a little edible glue, then carefully lift a circle of sugar paste over the top of each one, pinching it into fabric-like folds at the base. Roll the trimmings into a ball and store in an airtight container so the sugar paste does not dry out and crack.
11. Knead the black sugar paste until it is soft and pliable. To make the eyes, roll 12 small balls of black sugar paste, then slightly flatten each one with your thumb. For the pupils, roll 12 tiny balls
of white sugar paste and attach them to the eyes with a little edible glue, flattening them slightly as you do so. To make the mouths, roll 6 pea-sized balls of black sugar paste into small sausages, then mould and flatten each one into a different shape, trimming the sugar paste with a small sharp knife if necessary. Attach the eyes and mouths to the ghost cakes with a little edible glue. Leave the cakes for at least 2 hours, uncovered, in a cool, dry place to allow the icing to set.
Decorating is the new baking! Move over sponge cakes and shortbread: here come Sugared Rose Petal Cupcakes, Chocolate Heart Cake Pops, Filigree Glitter Biscuits, and many more delights – all easy to do, even if you’re new to baking.