Thing Two's birthday is in August, which makes me feel bad about him being a "summer" baby since they typically don't get much recognition in the class room. To my surprise, his teacher sent home a notice one of the first weeks of school to all the summer babies, saying if we would like to do something special, there are designated days we could sign up for. I obviously had no say in the matter, his birthday would be celebrated properly in class.
I had in mind a completely different cupcake idea for the longest time, but inspiration struck me at the last minute once I realized that its AUTUMN! I am so ready for the new season and the holidays to follow! Even though we were a day shy of the spooky month, Thing Two and I decided to make some Halloween-inspired cupcakes. I googled and googled for ideas or recipes that would be fitting, and we finally decided to make some skull cupcakes that we found on one of our google image results.
We went with a chocolate cake recipe I found on Foodnetwork.com, and a cream cheese frosting from Cooking Light that I had attached to a carrot cake recipe. The chocolate cake was very good, but nothing out of the ordinary in my book. Looking back, I think with as much work as I needed to do with the decorating, I wish I just went with a box mix to save time and money. I don't think two dozen six year olds would have judged me too harshly if I took a short cut with a box mix. The cream cheese frosting, however...wow! I'm a sucker for cream cheese, though, so I knew I would love it. I have always bought the tub frostings all my life and am only now making my own from scratch, and let me tell you, there is a world of difference!
Decorating was a lot of fun (yet tedious with those stupid nostrils!). Things One and Two decorated their own for dessert and laughed and laughed over how messed up they could make their skeletons' teeth look. We used M&Ms for the eyes, chocolate sprinkles or "jimmies" as some people call them for the nostrils, and tic-tacs for the teeth. These were insanely cute and creepy at the same time, and though I'm sure anyone with a lick of artistic talent could do the job a million times better, I was extremely please with the results. The sugar-laden six year olds approved too!
Yields 18 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by rubbing with butter, sprinkling with flour and tapping out extra. Or, line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix together with a wooden spoon then set aside.
3. In small bowl combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat well with hand mixer. Slowly add boiling water and mix. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and fold and stir until smooth.
4. Pour batter into pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove cake from pans and cool on racks. For cupcakes, bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes.