Life Recipes

Thursday 8 December 2016

Zombies in the kitchen - frighteningly delicious cakes

Published 30/10/2016 | 02:30

Day of the Dead Skulls
Day of the Dead Skulls
Blood Stained Brain Cupcakes
A Zombie Ate My Cupcake by Lily Vanilli, published by CICO Books Photography by David Munns, illustrations by Paul Parker © CICO Books
Morbid meringue bones from A Zombie Ate my Cupcake, Cico Books

With Halloween just a scream away, we have some frighteningly delicious cakes to make for trick or treating parties.

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BLOOD-STAINED BRAINS CUPCAKES

These are what a zombie really wants to eat - delicious human brains! For these cakes, I used red velvet cupcakes  in a jumbo-size as a base, but any cake recipe you like will work. Jumbo-sized paper cases are double the size of regular cupcakes, so use an extra-large muffin tin and make up two batches of the red velvet batter, cooking them for an extra couple of minutes.

The rich, brain-coloured buttercream is flavoured with vanilla and laced with cherry gore for a sharp yet delicious taste.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the red velvet cupcakes: 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

140g caster sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

½ tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp red food colouring (I use Dr Oetker)

Pinch of salt

30g cocoa

225g plain flour, sifted twice

120ml buttermilk

½ tsp cider vinegar

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the buttercream frosting: 115g butter, at room temperature

500g icing sugar, sifted

4 tbsp full-fat milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

Red and black food colouring

Method

To make the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until very light (about 5 minutes). Beat in the egg until well incorporated. In a small separate bowl, beat the vanilla extract, colouring, salt, and cocoa into a thick paste. Beat into the butter mixture.

3. With the mixer running on a slow speed, add the flour to the mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour.

4. Stir the vinegar into the baking soda, add to the batter, and fold in using a spatula. Leave to stand for 3 minutes.

5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

To make the frosting:

1. Beat the butter in a medium bowl. Add 300g of the sugar, the milk, and vanilla extract, and blend together with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the remaining sugar until you reach a consistency you can work with - soft enough to pipe, but thick enough to hold its shape well.

2. Add the food colourings using a wooden toothpick so that you can add very small amounts, until you get the colour you want.

3. Fit a piping bag with a number 10 tip and spoon in the frosting. Pipe the frosting in a line up the middle of each cake - just off-centre - and zigzag back down from side to side, or in any brain pattern you like. Repeat for the opposite side.

4. Refill the piping bag with cherry pulp (see recipe below) and pipe into gaps in the 'brain matter' for a 'blood-stained' effect.

DAY OF THE DEAD SKULLS

2016-10-29_lif_25384491_I1.JPG  

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 1 and 2, as a time to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, but it is also a time of celebration. Graves and homes are transformed into altars and offerings made to the departed, such as tequila, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and sugar skulls. Sugar skulls can be given to both the living and the dead and are a common symbol of the holiday.

Makes 12 cakes

Ingredients

For the chocolate cupcakes: 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

140g caster sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

115g plain flour, sifted twice

30g unsweetened cocoa

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

80ml sour cream

4 tbsp strong espresso, cooled

For the skulls:

White fondant

Tubes of ready-coloured frosting or icing pens

Luster dust

Rejuvenating spirit, a clear alcohol such as vodka, lemon juice, or clear vanilla extract

Silver dragees (optional)

Flower sprinkles

Edible wafer flowers

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly incorporated.

3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.

4. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the sour cream. Then slowly add the cooled coffee.

5. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6. Cool in the muffin pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

7. Remove the paper case and cut hollows for the eye sockets.

8. Roll out some white fondant to a thickness of 5mm and wrap the cake so it is completely sealed. Use your hands and a ball tool to sculpt a skull shape; the fondant will hold in place, just be careful not to press too hard and tear it.

9. You can then decorate the "skull" however you wish. Look at images of other skulls for inspiration or invent your own designs. Create the main features using tubes of ready-coloured frosting or icing pens. You could also use coloured frosting and a piping bag with a very small tip.

10. To paint on further details, use luster dust in gold and other colours that has been mixed with rejuvenating spirit, clear alcohol, lemon juice, or clear vanilla extract. The liquid evaporates, leaving the powder in place.

11. Finish off with silver dragees (you could use small balls of coloured fondant instead), flower sprinkles, and edible wafer flowers.

UNDEAD GINGERBREAD

RIP, sweet little cupcakes... Create your own creepy cupcake graveyard - the tombstones are made of gingerbread cookies, surrounded by cocoa soil. The recipe involves one batch of chocolate cupcakes, one batch of chocolate frosting, cocoa (for 'soil') and ready-made small white fondant flowers.

Ingredients

For the gingerbread:

450g all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

115g unsalted butter, at room temperature

100g granulated sugar

160ml unsulfured molasses or black treacle

1 large egg

Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated

White icing pen

For chocolate frosting, to cover 12-15 cupcakes (see chocolate cupcake recipe above):

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

30g unsweetened cocoa

1/3 tsp of salt

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups icing sugar

2 tbsp full-fat milk

2 tbsp double cream

Method

To make the gingerbread:

1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and lemon zest gradually, and beat until incorporated.

3. Divide the dough into two pieces. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

5. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of around ¼ inch (5mm). Use a cookie cutter to cut out the tombstone shapes, or cut them out freehand with a knife or cut around objects of the right shape and size. (You can make really effective cookie cutters using sheets of foil - using scissors, cut long strips with very straight edges from an aluminum tray, fold to a double thickness, and shape however you like, bending them around things to help you get a clean shape. Staple the ends together and you have a bespoke cookie cutter.)

6. Transfer the cookies onto the lined baking sheets, about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Bake for 6-8 minutes depending on size, until each cookie is firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Using a white icing pen, ice text onto the 'tombstones.'

8. Cover the top of the cupcakes with chocolate frosting, then dust with a thick layer of cocoa 'soil'. Insert the iced gingerbread 'tombstones' and decorate with white fondant flowers.

To make the frosting:

1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the cocoa until combined.

2. Add the salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and milk and continue to beat, slowly adding the cream. Beat until very smooth.

MORBID MERINGUE BONES

 

When making meringues, it is very important that all your equipment (bowls, mixers, spatulas, spoons) is completely clean, since even the slightest trace of grease can ruin the outcome. Rub over the equipment with lemon juice, then rinse and dry completely to remove all traces of fat. This recipe makes approximately 18 bones.

Ingredients

For the meringues: 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

½ tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

140g caster sugar

For the cherry sauce:

125g black cherries, very ripe and de-stoned or canned

50g caster sugar

120ml water or juice from canned cherries if using

½ tsp lime juice

1 tbsp cornflour or arrowroot

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 100°C/212°F/gas 1, and line 3 or 4 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

2. In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, lemon juice, and salt until fluffy, starting on a low speed and gradually increasing until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue beating on a high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a number 10 tip.

3. Pipe 6-inch (15cm) bone shapes onto baking paper, starting at the round edge of the bone and working your way down to make the length, and finishing on the round of the opposite side. Repeat in reverse to make a crisscross, ensuring there are no weak spots where the meringue is too thin.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until set. Turn off the oven and leave inside the cooling oven to dry for 1 hour. Store in airtight containers if making in advance.

5. To make the sauce, blend the cherries and raspberries in a bowl using an electric hand blender, then place in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with the sugar, water, lime juice, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Heat on medium until the cherries and raspberries begin to release their liquid, and then slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency. Strain the finished sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds. Trickle the sauce over the bones - bloody delicious!

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