“There aren’t too many occasions for making food look quite as scary as Halloween, and I eagerly anticipate the season every year. My kids are just as excited, and they love nothing more than to eat a spider or devour zombie brains,” says Elise Strachan, author of Sweet! Celebrations.
This recipe is copyright © 2016 by My Cupcake Addiction Pty Ltd. from Sweet! Celebrations by Elise Strachan, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease, flour, and line 2 12-hole cupcake tins.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and eggs on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the oil and mix to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour to the creamed mixture and bean on high speed for about 1 minute, until completely incorporated. Add a few drops of green food coloring and beat to combine. Keep adding until the batter is lime green.
Scrape the batter into the cupcake tins, and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Check the cakes after 18 minutes, and if the top is browning too much, tent them with foil.
Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed for at least 5 minutes, until the butter has lightened in color and is thoroughly whipped. Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. Add 1 cup sugar and beat on low speed to combine, and then on high speed for 2 minutes. Repeat this process 1 cup at a time until all the sugar has been added. Add a dash of milk at a time if the mixture becomes too thick or dry. Scrape down the sides as needed and make sure no sugar is visible. Add a few drops of food coloring and beat to combine. Keep adding the coloring until it reaches a bright lime green color.
Use a sharp knife to carve out a cone-shaped hole in the center of each cupcake. Keep the pieces you cut out. Spoon in 1 teaspoon of strawberry syrup, and add 2 cherries, and fill to the rim with syrup. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The cupcake will absorb some of the syrup, so add some more. Repeat with every cupcake. Trim off the pointed bottom of the reserved cone pieces, and use the top as a lid, placing them back on top of the cupcake centers.
Scoop 1 tablespoon of frosting on top of each cupcake and use the back of the knife to create a smooth dome. Place the rest of the frosting into a zip-seal bag and cut of a small corner. Pipe 2 long center lines down the middle of the cupcake, and then on either side pipe 2 rows of curvy lines to resemble a brain. Repeat with all the cupcakes.
Use a teaspoon to let a few drops of strawberry syrup fall onto the tops of the zombie brains to resemble blood.