I love baby showers. My favorite part is the cake. And the sherbet punch. And ooohing and aaahing over all the cute little clothes. But mostly, it’s the cake.
My cousin Tabbitha and her husband Chris are expecting their first baby, a girl, in December. My aunt began planning a Halloween-themed shower and my mom called with a request – a cake for the shower. No problem, right? The request: “Something baby” (check!) and “something Halloween-y” (crickets).
Dude. I was at a complete loss. I saw this a while back and fell in love with the cake. The black cake plate, the fluffy white frosting, the contrast between the two… But mostly, it was the black cake plate. (I will find it.)
Either way, it caught my attention. I didn’t want to attempt the marshmallows because I know better than to assume I could replicate the superhuman level of artsy domesticity that adorn Martha’s editors. I went with fondant, inspired by this picture.
Martha’s Devil’s Food Cake is one of my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipes. I topped the Devil’s Food Cupcakes with a fluffy buttercream, chocolate sprinkles, and fondant ghosts.
1 recipe Marshmallow fondant
1/8 cup chocolate (chopped or chips)
Roll fondant out on a greased surface to 1/8-inch thick. Use a circle cutter to cut the fondant – I used a 5.5-in pastry cutter.
Drape fondant over… something and lightly arrange the folds. DumDum suckers stuck in a piece of styrofoam are great way to knock several out at one time. And then you can hand the DumDums out to trick or treaters. Or eat them for breakfast. Your call.
As long as it’s not too humid, they should set nicely in 30 minutes. After all ghosts are formed and have set, melt 1/8 cup chocolate in a sealed baggie until it flows easily. Pipe a tester dot onto a plate and hold the plate vertically – if the chocolate droops/runs, let the chocolate sit for 3-5 minutes and try again. Pipe eyes onto each ghost and let dry. Place on cupcakes and enjoy!
The recipe for the top tier, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cake, can be found here.
Devil's Food Cupcakes with Fondant Ghosts
Moist devil's food cake, swiss meringue buttercream, and fondant ghosts make a fun Halloween treat.
- For cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
- Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, and transfer to a mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cocoa-powder mixture. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly between muffin cups and bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to let cool completely.
- To make the frosting,
- Put sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, and mixture registers 160 degrees on a thermometer.
- Transfer bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter by the tablespoon, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using; beat on lowest speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Yields: 24 liberally frosted cupcakes
Estimated time: 1 hour