Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brain Cupcakes...

Jeff came to me this weekend with a Halloween-themed idea for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day that he saw on Martha's website. Since Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, he wanted to bring in a themed treat a few days early, which is why you see these Brain Cupcakes here today (you may need to use a little imagination here...)!

We did use a different cupcake and frosting recipe than what was attached on their website, but the basic idea is what's important! For the cupcake, I went with the dark and chocolate-y recipe we used when we did that cupcake bar back in March. We opted for this one mainly because it was simple, tried-and-true and even better than that, used pantry ingredients we always have in stock!

The frosting recipe is a basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream, flavored with a few dashes of vanilla. This type of frosting can be a little fussy, but the silky texture and taste is outrageously good. It also has the benefit of not being as super-sweet as some buttercreams can be, which we thought would match well with the dark cupcakes underneath. The one tip with this type of buttercream is not to freak out if it looks curdled and sloppy once the butter starts to go in - just keep beating and you'll see it transform right before your eyes. When the frosting is completely smooth and combined, run the mixer on low for a few minutes - this helps to run out those annoying air bubbles that pop up.

As the cupcakes don't have tall crowns to them, to give the "brains" some dimension, build up a small mound in the center with the frosting, then use that as your base to trace around. The best way to describe what we did is this - look at the top of the frosting mound and imagine the two halves of the brain. Pipe a straight line, slightly off-center, from the top to the bottom - follow that back up around the edge of the cupcake rim to meet back at the point you started. When you hit that spot, fill in that outlined half with back-and-forth squiggles and repeat on the other side.

If you wanted to take this farther, try tinting the frosting a gruesome color, or stripe the inside of your pipping bag with a bit of red food coloring for a bloody brain. While this did take quite some time from start to finish as I baked a full batch of twenty four cupcakes, it was fun to do and hopefully not something they expect to see tomorrow! Oh... and apparently someone thought his Halloween Mickey he picked up during our Disney trip had to make an appearance - I'm surprised he didn't slip this in sooner!


  1. Joe, you totally needed to drizzle those in some type of edible blood. Other than that, excellent work, my friend!

  2. Yum. I like that they make a nod to Halloween without getting so goulish as to not be appetizing. Nice job.

  3. Its wierd they look creepy and delicious at the same time! Perfect for Halloween

  4. Looks great, I think it would be even more fun to make the buttercream more of a pink-peach hue! Spooky idea, thanks for sharing!

  5. pretty cupcakes indeed! I'd love to invite you to participate in the sweet celebrations event running on my blog!

    happy Halloween!:)

  6. What a great idea, they are the cutest.

  7. ErinM - I thought about it, but didn't have any gel colors!

    Kelly - Thanks!

    Katie - They were eaten up no problem!

    Stephanie - One of Jeff's favorite ones!

    Tiff - Good idea!

    Mansi - Thanks for stopping by! I'll check it out when I can.

    Helene - Thanks!

  8. total science nerd, LOVE these cupcakes!