So what in the world?!! I’m posting again so soon! Usually months go by between my posts. It must be some sort of Halloween miracle! It is just that I couldn’t wait to share these adorable Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider cupcakes with you. I made them for our Halloween festivities last night, but then ran out of time to actually post the blog about them. So even though Halloween is over, I’m sharing this recipe anyway. You’ll be all set for next year.
These cupcakes not only look fantastic, if I must say so myself, but they also taste amazing. The cake portion is a moist Guinness chocolatey, coffee cake. And then it is frosted with a smooth and velvety Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Oh be still my heart…I am in Cupcake Heaven! No wait….I mean to say the torturous depths of Hell (it is Halloween right?).
Halloween is my favorite holiday! I mean, think about it…You get to dress weird, drink booze and eat candy for dinner. In fact all of that fun stuff is encouraged. How could you go wrong on such a day! Halloween actually has Irish origins. Our modern Halloween celebrations are derived from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. Samhain was Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival which marked the dying of the sun-god and a turning to the colder, dormant half of the year. On this night, the Celts believed the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its lowest point. The dead could more easily travel back over to our side, and if we weren’t careful, we could accidentally wander over in to their world and be trapped-a good reason to stay close to home and bonfires, no doubt! This belief likely gave rise to our Halloween legends of ghosts, ghouls and witches wandering about on this night in particular. I’ve posted some great Halloween recipes in past years ranging from the historically based traditional recipes such as:
Soul Cakes (Traditional Halloween/ Samhain)
Yeasted Irish Barmbrack Bread (traditional Halloween/Samhain)
Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Glaze (traditional Halloween/Samhain)
To the more whimsical offerings such as:
As well as some wonderful boozy libations to kick your celebrations into high gear:
This year’s Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes combine the whimsical and boozy together in one perfect Halloween treat! The little spider darlings (I mean horrible, terrible scary spiders) are fairly easy to make. I used two malted milk balls for the body and head (turns out Maltesers -the body- are slightly larger than Whoppers – the head), but you could also use a malted milk ball and a chocolate covered peanut. You get the idea. The legs are made with black candy melts. I piped them out onto parchment paper, let them harden and then attached them to the body with more candy melt. Then I used Wilton mini Candy eyes for their googly eyes. You could also probably use mini M&M’s here. And There you have it…. Itsy Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes!
Truth be told I am terrified of spiders, so it is a bit weird that I decided to make these cupcakes. And I’m not one of those girly girls that is scared of all bugs and mice and snakes. Nope, I pretty much like most bugs – mosquitos excepted – but it’s more hate where they are involved rather than fear. Snakes are pretty cool and I love mice. But spiders….no way! I keep trying to make a treaty with them in which I will leave them alone as long as they are outside, but they are not allowed to come into my house. Rather than squish spiders that do venture inside despite the treaty, I show them mercy by capturing them and escorting them outside- all the while telling them that they must spread the word of our treaty to their friends. Those jerks agree at the time (spiders are full of deceit..), however once they get outside unscathed, I think they tell their little spider friends that I’m a softie and they shouldn’t worry about going into my house. Sigh….spiders are the worst! I’m just saying!
Itsy-Bitsy Tipsy Spider Cupcakes
Cake portion of the recipe from: Wife in Progress
Frosting recipe from: Handle the Heat
For the Cakes:
- 3/4 cups Guinness
- 1/4 cup strong black coffee (or King Arthur Espresso Powder works well here)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup sour cream
For the Frosting:
- 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream (or you could substitute Kahlua or your favorite)
- green gel food coloring
For the Spiders:
- 24 Maltesers or Whoppers (Malted Milk Balls)
- 24 chocolate covered peanuts or raisins (or just use another malted milk ball as I did)
- 6 ounces Black or Dark Cocoa Candy Melts, melted
- 48 (or more if you prefer – spiders sometimes have lots of eyes!) Candy eyes (small size)
For the Cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.
In a large saucepan heat Guinness, coffee and butter together until it comes to a gentle simmer.
Add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool.
Place flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs vanilla and sour cream.
Once the Guinness/cocoa mixture has cooled, add it to the egg/sour cream mixture. Mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing on low speed until just combined.
Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup scoop, fill the lined cupcake tins.
Bake for 25 minutes
Cool completely on wire rack.
For the Frosting:
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
Add Baileys slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix until well combined.
Add green food coloring gel to frosting until it reaches desired hue.
If you would like to make this frosting ahead of time, keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and rewhip in the mixer with the paddle attachment before using.
When you are ready to frost the cupcakes, place frosting in pastry bag fitted with whatever tip you desire and pipe frosting onto cupcakes.
Melt 6 ounces of Candy Melts in the microwave. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pipe “L” shapes onto the parchment to form spider’s legs. Let harden.
Place a Malteser “spider body” on the center of the frosting. Place the chocolate peanut “head” in front of it. Pipe dots of melted chocolate on the side of the spider’s body to hold the legs in place. Gently place 3 – 4 legs on each side of the spider. Use a dot of the melted chocolate to stick the eyes onto the head.