Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hostess-ish Cupcakes Part Deux: Halloween Edition

I know, I know — Halloween is for candy. But could it hurt anyone to eat some cupcakes as well?

I don't think it could. Freshman year, I organized cupcake decorating for my whole dorm on Halloween. We had candy corn, sprinkles, jelly beans, Reese's cups, M&Ms, Hershey's kisses, green and orange frosting...pretty much everything you need for the perfect Halloween cupcake. Since then, I've gotten more professional (/neurotic) in my baking, but cupcakes still seemed like a tasty Halloween treat. But how to make them appropriately Halloween-y?

As longtime readers will know, we love Hostess-style cupcakes from Crumbs Bakery, and I decided that this would be perfect for multiple reasons. 1) These are DEVIL's food cupcakes; appropriately ghoulish for Halloween. 2) They are from EVIL Crumbs. 3) I would make them with ORANGE squiggles/filling, so that they would be orange and (nearly) black, the signature colors of Halloween.

I decided to use different recipes than Rebecca did, because hey, experimenting is fun. Mine was a joint effort between Baking Bites, What A Dish! and the ever-reliable AllRecipes. The reason for this was because I thought the Baking Bites cupcakes looked very delicious and not too tricky, but the filling required a strainer, which I don't own, and the chocolate glaze looked nothing like a real Hostess cupcake. So I just searched for "homemade Hostess cupcake" on Google Images, selected the picture I thought looked truest to life, and used that recipe from What A Dish!, which had the glaze from AllRecipes.

My thoughts:

The cupcakes were super-moist and yummy. There were only two things wrong. One was trying to melt the chocolate with the boiling water; mine definitely spent a little time in the microwave, but I probably should have used smaller pieces of chocolate. The other was that they didn't bake very well in the allotted time; I would recommend leaving them in for at least 18-20 minutes. But whatever, no one likes a dry cupcake. They also looked very appealing, which is important (though not that important at a Halloween party where everyone eating them is drunk). They are a rich brown color, almost red — perfect for Devil's Food!

The frosting was low-maintenance, though it melted a little in my hot hot room and I had to add more confectioner's sugar to stiffen it. It was fine, nothing special. However, I'm grateful that it was very easy to pipe. I'm new at piping, and last year when I made a birthday cake for my friend Emily I definitely ended up with what Jen at Cake Wrecks would call poo spirals. I was extremely pleased with how the squiggles came out — just like a real Hostess cupcake, but orange! I also have to say that filling the cupcakes was extremely satisfying. It was fun to squeeze the bag, watch them bulge and then pull it out at just the right time. Sadly, I didn't get a good picture of the cupcakes cut open, but I will definitely be filling more cupcakes in the future.

The glaze was truly spectacular. It definitely lives up to its "satiny" name. It was incredibly easy to make — I just popped the ingredients in the microwave for 30-second increments instead of melting them over a double-boiler. It was beautiful to look at, simple to spread, and delicious to eat!

All in all, I would say these cupcakes were a success. How do I measure that? I brought them to a Halloween party, and people said, "Give me a shot and a cupcake!" That's right — they were on the same level as the alcohol!

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream (low fat or full)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2-oz dark chocolate
1 cup water, boiling

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease two 12-cup muffin tins.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by sour cream and vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add half of flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract, followed by the addition of the rest of the flour mix. Stir well between each addition and mix until no streaks of flour remain.
Stir the cocoa powder and the dark chocolate into the boiling water (easiest in a large measuring cup). Pour chocolate water into the rest of the batter and stir until uniform.
Evenly distribute batter into prepared baking cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. (It’s fine if you can’t fit both trays into the oven at the same time, just wait until one batch finishes before putting in the second pan)
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla and salt; beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Insert a decorating tip into a pastry or plastic bag; fill with cream filling. Push the tip through the top of each cupcake to fill.

Blogger's note: I added four drops of red and four drops of yellow food coloring to make it orange.

Satiny Chocolate Glaze:

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla. Spread warm glaze over top of the cupcakes. Make a squiggle with the frosting.

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