Operation Halloween Cupcake – Completed

Well, they’re done. I don’t know if there’s anything more glowing I can say about them besides that. The end result is not at all what I set out to do, but they’re passable, if nothing else.

So, you’ll recall I was hoping to do the big pull apart Spiderweb cupcakes from Betty Crocker (found here and reproduced below). What’s below is the actual recpie and decorating instructions, but as I’ll get into below, I veered a bit off course. Because I suck.

1 box (1 lb 2.25 oz) Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix (or other flavor)
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix package
Orange gel food coloring
2 containers (12 oz each) Betty Crocker® Whipped fluffy white frosting
1 tube (0.68 oz) Betty Crocker® black decorating gel
Plastic spiders (for decoration)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
  2. Mix cake batter as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake as directed on box. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  3. On large round platter or pizza pan, arrange cupcakes, placing them close together. In medium bowl, mix food coloring and frosting. Spread frosting over cupcakes and spaces in between to create one large circle of frosting. Squeeze one large dot of black gel in center of frosting. With gel, draw concentric circles around the dot, spacing them about 2 inches apart. To create the web design, drag a toothpick from the center dot to the outer edge of the circle (about 12 times). Place plastic spiders on web.

So, where did we first encounter problems? Well, we started out ok. Follow the directions on the box, not too bad. They gave me a choice between a hand mixer and whisking the batter – it was like a Betty Crocker Choose Your Own Adventure…did I want to do less work now (electric hand mixer) and have more to clean later (multiple parts)? Or work more now (whisk manually) but minimize dishes?

We went with the whisk. I think I did a decent enough job getting out all the lumps too, if I do say so myself. That was my workout for the day.

Next step – filling the baking cups. I picked up some Halloween themed cups from Target:

So into the muffin pan they went, followed by the batter.

Yeah, the cups were a little big for the pan. And the batter was a little too drippy for my uncoordinated self, resulting in much frosting dripped on the kitchen island, the pan, my tray, et cetera. I “cleaned” up the excess batter by swiping it up with my finger and then eating it (unpasteurized eggs too – I’m such a risk taker!). So before anything was even in the oven I’m pretty sure I consumed at least 2-3 cupcakes worth of batter. Hey, at least we’ll keep the blog title accurate, right?

Unfortunately my next mistake was also perpetrated during the filling of the cupcake cups…but I didn’t realize until they were baked. See, it said to fill 2/3 of the way up. That’s what I thought I did, but in retrospect I probably did closer to 3/4. So we ended up with muffins instead of cupcakes.

As an aside, the recipe is supposed to make 24 cupcakes. I got 14 out of mine, so clearly these are some bionic mutant ninja cupcakes.

Next step was the frosting (with another misstep pending). Before even starting, it was pretty clear to me that these giant everest like muffin tops were not going to be conducive to a nice flat and even surface for the spiderweb pattern intended by the recipe, so I decided to try my own decorating on a cupcake by cupcake basis. The first thing I had to do was dye the frosting the desired colors (I wanted half lime green and half orange). The recipe called for gel food coloring, which I couldn’t find at either Target or our grocery store, so I got the drop kind. Yeah, that was a bad choice.

First of all, I figure 2 drops yellow and 2 drops red and we’d get orange. Not so much. That was more of a pale peach. I ended up probably using several mLs of coloring before achieving the desired color (lovely look of bleeding frosting too…)

So, um…did you know that if you use a lot of food coloring it waters the frosting down? Yeah, it does. I didn’t notice or care until this happened…

Yeah, it melted all over the place. Drip, drip, drip. SOOO appetizing, no? I’m just picturing the damn cupcake screaming “I’m melting, I’m melting, oh what a world, what a world!!!!!”

In the meantime I made my green frosting, with similar results.

After that first cupcake I was pretty much decided that I’d need to go out and get more frosting and drive around looking for gel food coloring, until my mother in law (in for the weekend and attempting to distract and intercept the Boops while I baked) told me I could add powdered sugar to thicken the frosting back up. Praise her for saving me another trip out!

Frosting thickened, we tried again! It was still a bit drippy so I ended up putting the frosting and frosted cupcakes in the fridge for a while to stiffen.

Here they all are, pre-decorated:

Finally, the decorating. This is a combination of the original idea on a smaller scale (which I would have done more of but I was running out of black gel), some pumpkin ones I saw (including in a pic posted by a commenter, thanks!) and then I just ran out of ideas and rustled around in our cabinet until I saw the pull and peel twizzlers which I decided I could use as spiderlegs.

They don’t look so bad here, but the jack o lanterns were losing their stems already as they slid through the STILL drippy frosting, so I’m sure they’ll be a mess tomorrow. Oh well, I gave it a shot…

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4 thoughts on “Operation Halloween Cupcake – Completed

  1. oh they are cute! And for future reference, you can get the gel food coloring at Michaels or Joanns in their cake decorating/wedding section! It definitely works better.

  2. They are cute. And, you can now even find the basic food coloring in gel formula at the grocery store. Instead of coming in little containers with screw off tops, the gel at the grocery store comes in tubes.

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