Tuesday 5 November 2013

Halloween treats: owl and spider cupcakes

Each year when we hold a lunch to remember Alex and Ian I do some a fun birthday cake for them.  This year I decided do make cupcakes. Last year I knew what the theme of their cake was months in advance but this year no idea seemed quite right.  Finally I went back to the owl theme that constantly appeared on my Pinterest board.  A little bit cute, a little bit scary.  And to return to this year's Halloween theme for the birthday treats, I had enough mini muffins and lollies to make spider cupcakes too.

I saw lots of picture of Duncan Hines owl cupcakes using regular sized oreos to make oversized owl eyes.  Fortunately I found some mini-oreos which seemed big enough for me.  I had considered using chocolate buttons but the oreos were easier.  The hardest part about using them was convincing Sylvia they should be eaten via the cupcakes and not directly from the tub.

I baked a batch of Choc Honey Muffins the night before.  They were rather peaked on top so I had to slice the tops to make it flat enough for the oreos to stick.  Otherwise they were great for the project.  I used soy milk with a bit of lemon juice instead of yoghurt (due to bad planning) and found them a little drier than before.  Nothing a good coating of chocolate frosting couldn't fix.

The chocolate frosting was leftover from my dad's birthday cake.  I have finally finished it.  Now I only have a tub of white buttercream frosting in the fridge.  The dark chocolate edges of the oreo eyes didn't stand out much against the chocolate frosting and I wondered if I should have used the buttercream.  Maybe another time. 

I find that cupcakes are far easier to decorate with kids than large cakes.  Small cakes mean that kids can do some in their own fun way and I can make some look closer to my adult standards.  I made my owl faces in a similar style to Duncan Hines.  Sylvia thought they looked angry.  She had a lovely time creating her own styles: the happy owl (above), the double beak, the moustache etc.

The spider cupcakes were also easy enough for a 4 year old to do.  But by then Sylvia had lost interest.  I was cursing having thick sticks of liquorice rather than the wheel of liquorice that could be cut into strips easily.  I started using scissors and soon progressed to my chef's knife to chop the legs.  The rest was a cinch.  Easy but it still took the time I was meant to be making the pizza.

We had just enough cupcakes.  There were enough for us to enjoy one or two.  Large for big appetites and small for those wanting just a nibble.  Not many were leftover.  A couple were left here for us to eat the next day and a few were boxed up by my mum to take home to some of my nieces who appreciate such cupcakes.

You can also see my previous posts on Halloween treats this year:  Bat toast, Chocolate and pretzel spiderwebs, and Cracker spiders.

I am sending this post to Caroline at Caroline Makes for the Alphabakes challenge, which she co-hosts with Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker.  This month the letter is O for Owl cupcakes.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: 
Rocket Birthday Cake
Two years ago: Monkey birthday cake
Three years ago: Eggplant Pate for Boys Birthday
Four years ago: Boys Birthday, Number Two
Five years ago: Chocolate cake for our boys

Owl and spider cupakes

You will need:
1 batch of Choc Honey Muffins, made as 12 cupcakes and 10 mini muffins
1 1/2 cups of chocolate frosting (like this one)
1 box of smarties (about 50g)
1 tub of mini oreos (for owls)
1 packet of liquorice
Mini choc chips or mini m&ms (optional)

To make owl cupcakes:
Take apart each mini oreo.  Set aside 24 sides with icing.  Chop the uniced sides in half and set aside 24 of these.  (I found quite a few of the uniced sides crumbled when I chopped them.)  Now make the eyes by placing a mini choc chip in the middle of the white icing on each iced oreo.  If like me, you use up your choc chip, just chop some liquorice into as close a little circle as possible.  Be careful not to push too deeply into the icing or it will spread.

If your cupcakes are peaked, slice off the tops to flatten them.  (These tops are quite tasty so don't throw them again.)  Spread cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Place the eyes together. a smartie like a beak just below where the eyes meet and two half uniced oreos above the eyes like feathers.

To make spider cupcakes:
Cut liquorice into each legs for each cupcake and set aside.  Now allocate two smarties the same colour) for each set of eight legs.  Ice each mini muffin (these don't need to be flat).  Press 8 legs into the sides and then two smarties onto one side.

On the Stereo:
The Crook of My Arm: Alasdair Roberts


  1. Well it sure sounds like it was another day of creating for you Johanna or should I say both you "little" bakers. Those festive cupcakes may have been tedious but they sure look worth it. Sylvia's is especially cute because I also got to see her darling apron!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Johanna...

    1. Thanks Louise - yeah sylvia and I are a team (which it comes to sweet food she wants to eat before serving!) These cupcakes weren't too hard but they still took longer than I expected. I insisted sylvia wear the apron if she helped - she is not so keen on aprons but I am!

  2. I'll have to make those with Sylvia, they look so cute!!! And I wonder if I could veganise that choc honey cupcake recipe ...

    1. Thanks Kate - they are great cupcakes to make with kids. While considering cupcake recipes I came across one lot of owl cupcakes that used a vegan oreo cupcake recipe that looked really good - http://www.6bittersweets.com/2010/04/hootin-for-cupcakes-and-late-for.html

  3. I have no talent or imagination when it comes to anything crafty (including food art) so I always have to google stuff. These look great, I like the double beak!

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I wouldn't do the half the crafts and novelty foods I do without my pinterest boards and the web - it is so great for ideas (though I do have a few good books too so I would cope)

  4. Those owl cakes are just adorable. I love their big round eyes

  5. That is a brilliant use of mini oreos, and beautifully decorated cakes. Like you, I find cupcakes easier (and perhaps more fun) to decorate than large cakes, although also more child-like usually. I guess they just lend themselves to lollies! I am sure Alex and Ian would have loved them.

    1. Thanks Kari - strangely enough I usually do large cakes but am beginning to appreciate decorating cupcakes more - if you mess up one there is always another chance :-) Yes Alex and Ian would have loved them - if only ...

  6. These are so cute!! Bookmarking these for when I have kids (in the very far future). And I'd always rather make cupcakes than cakes!

    1. Thanks Joanne - I actually would prefer to make a large cake than a cupcake but cupcakes are easier to decorate. And am sure you will have lots of fun ideas for baking for kids (I used to bake for my nieces before Sylvia came along)

  7. Cutest little Halloween cupcakes EVER!!

  8. These are adorable! Thanks for sending them in to Alphabakes!

  9. Such a brilliant idea! I've seen these on the blogosphere but have yet to attempt them myself. Clearly a great project to do with the kids. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes - a great 'O"entry!


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