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as you may recall from my post of lauren’s gigundo poptart cake, i bake for the birthdays of the team that i manage. for andy’s birthday i decided to ask his girlfriend what he likes and i held my breath in hopes of something i could whip up pretty easily. when she said that he would love a strawberry rhubarb pie i breathed a sigh of relief.  i could totally do that. THEN… oh then… friday afternoon i get an instant message that he wants these zombie cupcakes. i am totally up for a challenge, but i checked the halloween section of the few places i buy my candy stuff from and did not seem to be able to find a brain shaped candy mold. i called up candyland crafts (it is like disneyland for candy makers, but with no frills) and it turns out they do have a brain mold but it was hiding in a different section. the good news is that they had it, the bad news is that it was way bigger than cupcake size.

i was hoping that i could find some gummy brains at a store and call it a day, but i couldn’t find them, and i only had two days, so i did what my gut told me– i bought the big brain mold in hopes that i would figure out how to make it work. the brains were very slightly smaller than jumbo cupcakes/texas muffins so that was that. since there was no recipe on the website, i had to use what i thought would be best.


there is a red velvet cake recipe i have been eyeing up, so that was an easy choice. it said that they used raspberry red velvet but i didn’t want to do that, so i was going to go with regular red velvet and make some raspberry jam for filling. i made the cupcakes and jam without incident, however i was a bit surprised at how vinegary the cake batter was, and how i did not end up with a red kitchen. seriously, i was terrified that all that food coloring would end up dying my countertops, bowls, utensils, etc a nice shade of blood red. unless i am missing it, nothing in my kitchen except the cupcakes are red, and i didn’t even stain my skin! in any case, the cupcakes came out pretty good, if i do say so myself. next time i am using less vinegar though– typing this here since i am apparently forgetful about this sort of thing.

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now that the easy part was done, it was on to the decorating. i don’t have a go-to cream cheese frosting so i picked one off of a website that looked pretty good. we are all subject to finding bad recipes sometimes. it happens… and it happened to me today. ICK!!!! this stuff does not pipe well at all! my brains were sliding all over the place! btw, i made the brains yesterday since i wanted to make sure they were completely set, and let’s face it there are only so many hours in a day. the store didn’t have any grey, a good red for it, or purple, so i had to go with white, peach, and brown. i am not thrilled with them, but i think they get the job done. since they are so much bigger than i was hoping for, they carry some weight to them and i am a little bit scared that they will crush the poor cupcakes.

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because of this as well as the issues with the frosting not piping well, i have decided that i will bring in the cupcakes, the frosting, the jam (which i have to admit i actually like as an icing underneath the brains…it looks very gutsy), and the brains separately and assemble them when it is cupcake time tomorrow. i have two cupcakes with brains on top and i am letting them sit overnight to see what happens, just out of curiosity.

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they may not look like the ones on the page i was sent, but dammit they are good enough to distract a zombie in an impending attack! that’s right kids, always carry chocolate brains and red velvet cupcakes with you just incase.

*UPDATE: i decided that next time i make these, i will make the brains hollow… this is far too much chocolate . i am serving the brains separately from the cupcakes so people can eat the cupcake now, and the chocolate later. also, this morning after seeing that the icing did not get any better, i had to swallow my pride and use my emergency store-bought icing. hey, it happens to the best of us. here is the way they ended up looking at the office:

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i was told by a girl at work that they were “to die for” i thought this was pretty fitting, however she said it was unintentional  [o:


You don’t want the recipe for the awful icing, the raspberry jam was made with raspberries, corn starch, lemon juice, and sugar (did not document proportions), and the brains were just chocolate melts…here is the part you really want…..

Red Velvet Cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (by the suggestion of Joy the Baker)

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons red food coloring (I using a dash less)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Turn mixer to high and add  the egg.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste.  Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.  You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk.  Add half of the flour and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour.  Beat on high until smooth.

Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar.  Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.

Spoon batter into a paper lined cupcake baking pan and bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them of a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

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6 Responses to night of the living cupcakes (aka vegetarian zombie food)

  1. Tim says:

    That reminds me of an awful joke my little cousin told me:

    What do vegetarian zombies say?


  2. […] i try to make them all as individualized as i can, like lauren’s gigundo poptart or andy’s zombie cupcakes. so when carlos’ birthday came up i knew i had to do something around the yankees since he is […]

  3. […] have made red velvet before (most notably the zombie cupcakes), but decided to try out a different recipe– one from magnolia bakery because, well, YUM. […]

  4. I’ve recently tried this recipe and have also tried several others and I can’t make a non-dry red velvet for the life of me! I swear I’m not overbaking either…

    But anyway these are AH-MAZING! I looked at the inspiring image and honestly I like the colors of yours better. Did you use different colored melts to achieve that? I’m DEFINITELY trying these next Halloween.

    If you’re still looking for a pipeable cream cheese frosting, this one I use works great but you have to use cold cream cheese. You don’t expect it to smooth out but trust me it’s not too sweet and really firm.

    Pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting
    1 cup (2 sticks) trans fat-free margarine or butter, room temperature
    2 to 3 cups (8 to 12 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    12 oz. (1 1/2 blocks) cream cheese, cold and cut into large chunks

    Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Add the cream cheese, a chunk at a time, beating after each addition (just enough to work it in until it’s smooth). Taste the frosting, adding more sugar if needed. If not using immediately, chill until needed, then beat again until smooth and fluffy just before using.

  5. sharon says:

    thanks much– i used a combination of peach, chocolate, white, and i think there may have been one other color. that is odd that they come out dry– if you are using paste food coloring, i suggest switching over to liquid…but you might want to try the other recipe i have on here,w hich uses cake flour, so it should be lighter. thank you for the icing recipe– i will have to try that.

  6. Those look delicious and creepy and scary and awful and wonderful! 😉

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