Spider Cupcakes

I haven’t made nearly as many Halloween-themed goodies as I’d hoped to this year, but I did manage to sneak in a few at the last minute.  I saw the idea for these spider cupcakes first on Bakerella and while they’re a bit creepy (I hate spiders!) I also thought they were cute.  Plus, they included lots of chocolate sprinkles, which I just love.  Technically, Shane tells me I can’t call them spiders since they only have 6 legs, but I’m going with it anyway :)  The spiders are really easy to make.  Simply top a chocolate cupcake (I highly recommend this one) with chocolate frosting then cover the frosting with lots of chocolate sprinkles.  The eyes are mini m&m’s and the legs are black licorice.  I couldn’t find the wheel of licorice Bakerella used, so I just cut up Twizzlers, but I definitely think the legs look better/more realistic the way she did them.  They’d be a great project to do with kids since they are so simple.

When I thought about what chocolate cupcake base to use for the spiders, my mind went immediately to this recipe for chocolate ganache filled chocolate cupcakes.  I made them last month for my friend’s baby shower and loved them, but never blogged about them because I didn’t manage to get a good photo amidst the celebration.  They are the perfect chocolate cupcake in my opinion – moist and tender but not too delicate or crumbly – and of course, full of rich chocolate flavor.  When they first come out of the oven the center is warm and almost molten but as they cool it firms up to create a rich center.

Happy Friday everyone!  I’m super excited because I’m off to see Ina Garten today – yes, the Barefoot Contessa is going to be in my neck of the woods signing her new book and I’m going to meet her!  Can’t wait to tell you all about it soon :)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling
adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ganache Filling
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Cupcakes
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (1 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 oz) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the ganache filling: Add the chocolate, cream and confectioners’ sugar to a large microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in your microwave on full power for 20-30 seconds, or until the mixture is warm to the touch.  Use a whisk to combine until smooth then put the bowl in the refrigerator until the ganache is chilled, no longer than 30 minutes. 

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Place the chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl then pour the hot coffee over them and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator to allow the mixture to cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together.

Once the chocolate/coffee mixture is cool, add the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla to the bowl and whisk everything until smooth.  Finally add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk again until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Drop about one teaspoon of ganache filling onto each cupcake.  Bake the cupcakes until they are just firm to the touch and set, about 17-19 minutes.  Remove the pan to a wire rack.  After 10 minutes, lift each cupcake from the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely before frosting.