Baking Adventures (Part 4): Cupcakes of Lost Souls

All Hallow’s Eve is almost upon us. For those of you who celebrate Halloween, it’s a fun time to dress up as scary characters and go trick-or-treating. But even if October 31 is just going to be another Wednesday night for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some simple yet delightfully ghoulish baking.

For this Baking Adventure, we have marshmallow skulls silently screaming in agony as they struggle their way out of rich, creamy chocolate ganache. Beneath this decadent deathtrap is a chocolate cupcake that’ll bring out the kid in you who believes that there are monsters lurking underneath the bed.

The idea for the marshmallow skulls came from the queen of domesticity Martha Stewart. Her original idea used large marshmallows and black sprinkles for the face. You can certainly do that as well and it would be far less fiddly. But there’s something so much more sinister about a whole pile of skulls, so I used mini marshmallows instead and painted on the faces using a toothpick and some black food colouring gel. They’re not difficult to make at all, but may take a little bit of time to amass a decent number of mini skulls.

Other than that bit of craftwork, the rest is pretty easy. A ganache is simply made by melting chocolate in hot cream. I used chocolate chips so I don’t have to bother with chopping up a chocolate bar. A typical ganache calls for equal parts of cream and chocolate by weight, so be sure to weigh out these two ingredients. (Yes, please weigh out the cream.)

The chocolate cupcakes are an adaptation of my vanilla cupcake recipe. It’s just a matter of replacing some of the flour with cocoa, and upping the sugar content slightly to compensate for the bitterness of the cocoa.


For the ganache:

  • 120g heavy/whipping cream
  • 120g semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the skulls:
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Black food colouring gel, such as from Wilton (A liquid food colouring wouldn’t work as well.)
  • Scissors
  • Toothpicks
 For the cupcakes:
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 25g unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp milk

Makes a dozen cupcakes.


Step 1: To make the ganache, begin by heating the cream in a saucepan over high heat. When the cream begins to boil, take it off the stove, add the chocolate chips, and leave it for about 3 minutes. Then, whisk the mixture until you get a thick and glossy ganache.

Leave it for an hour or two to thicken up as it cools further. In the meantime, you can get on with making your cupcakes.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Line your tins with cupcake cases.

Step 3: Cream the butter, sugar, and salt together until light and fluffy. Mix in about a tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Step 4: Sift in the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Add in the milk and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.

Step 5: Distribute the batter equally among the twelve cases. Each case should be filled to no more than two-thirds full.

Step 5: Bake for 16 minutes. After about 5 minutes, remove the cupcakes from their tins and set them aside to cool completely as you begin working on the marshmallow skulls.

Step 6: With a pair of scissors, make a snip towards one end of the marshmallow to form a mouth. Dip a toothpick into the black food colouring gel and draw on the eyes and nose of the skull.

Make as many skulls as you want or have the patience for. I made 36 mini skulls in total, 3 for each cupcake, but a larger pile of skulls would look far more hellish! This part is great fun for kids, but parents, please supervise the scissor usage!

Step 7: By this time your ganache should be thicker and a little less shiny. Slowly dribble about a tablespoon of ganache over each cupcake. Then, top with your marshmallow skulls. Refrigerate your diabolically sinful cupcakes for at least 2 hours to allow the ganache to set.

There’s something wonderfully macabre and cute about these cupcakes. Have them as a centrepiece at your Halloween costume party, or snuggle up by yourself with a couple of cupcakes while scaring yourself silly with a B-grade horror movie.

Baking Adventures is a collaboration between Basic Bakes and QuirkyChic. QuirkyChic is a Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle blog by Caroline & Ruth. To find out more about them, click here. Expect a new Baking Adventure every second Friday of the month!

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