Spooky Halloween cupcakes by wacky cake sculptor Lily Vanilli, made with chocolate sponge and gingerbread tombstones
Lily Vanilli: "RIP, sweet little cupcakes... Create your own creepy cupcake graveyard—the tombstones are made of gingerbread cookies, surrounded by cocoa soil."
Makes 12 cakes
For the chocolate frosting
For the gingerbread
For the decoration
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the sour cream. Then slowly add the cooled coffee.
Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
To make the gingerbread, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and lemon zest gradually, and beat until incorporated. Divide the dough into two pieces. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of around 5mm. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the tombstone shapes, or cut them out freehand with a knife or cut around objects of the right shape and size.
Transfer the cookies onto lined baking sheets, about 2.5cm apart. Bake for 6–8 minutes depending on size, until each cookie is firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then using a white icing pen, ice text onto the 'tombstones.'
For the frosting, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the cocoa until combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and milk and continue to beat, slowly adding the cream. Beat until very smooth.
Cover the top of the cupcakes with chocolate frosting, then dust with a thick layer of cocoa “soil.” Insert the iced gingerbread “tombstones” and decorate with white fondant flowers.
Tip: You can make really effective cookie cutters using sheets of aluminum—using scissors, cut long strips with very straight edges from an aluminum tray, fold to a double thickness, and shape however you like, bending them around things to help you get a clean shape. Staple the ends together and you have a bespoke cookie cutter.
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