*This is a sponsored post but all photos, opinions and the recipe are of course my own.*
The countdown to the scariest night of year is on: Halloween is rapidly approaching! Did you know tht Halloween has an Irish origin? The Celtic festival Samhain was celebrated on the night of the 31st of October in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man 2000 years ago. It’s still a hugely celebrated event here in Ireland, with decorated houses everywhere, kids going off to trick-or-treat and lots of fireworks and parades across the country.
Apart from scary decorations, Halloween luckily also means eating delicious treats, like these Halloween cupcakes with pumpkin spices. For decorations I’ve gone for red pomegranate pits and cute ghosts made out of icing. They look supercute and are a lot easier to make than you’d expect but you do need to get either round lollipops or marshmallows to imitate the head underneath the ghosts. Otherwise they won’t hold up. My marshmallows weren’t round but rather square, but the ghosts still turned out to be exactly what I had hoped for. You can freeze them as well if you’re not using them the same day, but keep in mind they might start to sweat a bit once defrosted, so I would recommend making them as fresh as possible. Either way they’ll be an extra cute treat for those eating the cupcakes as they’ll either get an extra lollypop or some lovely fluffy marshmallows.
I’m using my own mix of pumpkin spices rather than a ready-made mix, for the simple reason that it’s not always possible to find this mix in Irish or Belgian stores but each individual spice in it can be bought. I’ve left out the ginger myself as I’m not too crazy about it, but you can of course add it if you like its taste.
I’ve made my cupcakes using two kinds of Kerrygold butter, both in the cupcakes and in the buttercream on top. I used both salted and unsalted butter, as the saltness will break the sweetness of the buttercream a bit, as buttercream is extremely sweet. When it came to the cupcakes though I went for unsalted, as I wanted them to have more sweetness combined with all those lovely pumpkin spices. If you want to know more about the process behind it, the philosophy and how Kerrygold gets the best milk from our Irish cows, have a look on www.kerrygold.com (Ireland) and www.kerrygold.com/be (Belgium).
Make sure to have your butter at room temperature when using it, as it’ll other wise result in a very lumpy buttercream and your cupcakes might have lumps in it too as your mixer will struggle to beat them in properly if the butter is not soft enough. Don’t melt it though, that’ll give a whole other result entirely.
- 4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground allspice
- optional: 1 teaspoon of ginger
- 200g salted Kerrygold butter, room temperature
- 230g unsalted Kerrygold butter, room temperature*
- 400g icing sugar
- 230g light brown sugar
- 230g self-raising flour
- 100g read to roll fondant icing
- 4 eggs
- 15 pink marshmallows or 15 red/dark lollipops
- 9g vanilla sugar**
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 pomegranate
Needed: 15 cupcake wrappers and a cupcake baking tin.
*If you live in Ireland you won’t be able to get unsalted Kerrygold, but you can substitute it for the salted version of course
**If you can’t find vanilla sugar in your regular supermarket, have a look at the Polish shops, they always have them
We’re going to start with our cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Mix unsalted butter with sugar until you get a light & fluffy mixture. Gradually beat in the eggs as well as our lovely spices and mix some more. Now gradually sift in the flour and mix for another 2 mixture into a smooth dough with no lumps. Place them in the cupcake wrappers and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Next up are the ghosts and buttercream! For the ghosts you simply knead the fondant until soft, then use a rolling-pin to flatten it to 4-5mm thick. Make sure to dust your workspace with a bit of icing sugar, to prevent the fondant from sticking to it. Cut out squares and use your hands to make the edges of the ghost less straight but rather wavy. Try not to make the ghosts too thick in the edges, as it might make it too heavy, but make sure the center is sturdy enough and won’t get pierced by the toothpicks if you’re using marshmallows. As you can see from the ingredients you can either use round lollipops for heads, or you can use marshmallows. For the marshmallow version simply place one (or two if they are small) marshmallows on a toothpick. For both the lollipops and the toothpicks, place the icing gently over the lollypop/toothpick and use a toothpick to cut out eyes. Both the dark lollypop and pink marshmallow will come through the eyes, giving them an even spookier effect.
For the buttercream we’re going to start by beating up the salted butter for 2-3 minutes at medium speed. It’s best to use an automatic mixer or a handheld electric mixer. If you’re going to try to mix buttercream by hand, it’ll be very exhausting and might not be as lump-free. Add half the sugar (and vanilla sugar) and beat a low speed to avoid the sugar from flying out of the bowl. Continue at medium speed; pause for a second to add the rest of the sugar and repeat the previous step.
Add the milk and beat at low-speed first, then continue to medium speed and end on high-speed for another 2-3 minutes. You should now have a rich, smooth mixture with no lumps in it.
Cut the pomegranate in half and carefully remove the little red drops. Try not to squeeze them as they’ll pop, so be as careful as you can be. Not to worry though, there will be plenty of pits in case some do go wrong. Decorate your cupcakes with the buttercream by either using a piping bag for a smooth effect, or a spook to make it a bit more messy and creepy. Add pomegranate pits on top, then finish off with the ghosts.