Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

By | Baking + Desserts, Candy + Treats, Cupcakes, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

These are impressive bombs. You put them on the table and BOOM! Everyone is instantly impressed.

With piles of delicious buttercream, and loads of Halloween candy, you can’t go wrong. Make them ahead too! This meringue buttercream holds really well.

Candy Cupcakes

*One little hint: if you’re not a huge frosting fan, first, don’t tell anyone ’cause you’re crazy, then, top each cupcake with half of a donut hole, and frost over the top. It will create the giant mound that will hold the candy, without the solid frosting situation.

Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes

Crazy For Candy Cupcakes

Bake these in black cupcake liners for a spooky look.


  • 1 recipe Meringue Buttercream
  • Orange gel paste food coloring
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 24 prepared chocolate cupcakes
  • 3 cups candy corn pieces
  • 6 cups malted milk balls


  1. Tint half of the buttercream orange. Stir melted chocolate into the rest of the buttercream until incorporated.
  2. Use a ¼-cup spring-loaded cookie scoop to place a small mound of buttercream on each of the cupcakes. (If you don't have a scoop, mound and smooth ¼ cup buttercream on each cupcake.) Decorate the orange-frosted cupcakes with candy corn, placing candy very close together. Use Malted milk balls to decorate the chocolate frosted cupcakes. Chill cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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Recipes by Tara Bench
Original published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2013
Photography William Brinson
Prop Styling Michelle Wong
Food Styling Christine Albano

Candy Corn Twist Cupcakes with silky buttercream frosting

Candy Corn Twist Cupcakes

By | Baking + Desserts, Cupcakes | 4 Comments

Candy Corn Swirl CupcakesI know people who like candy corn. I try not to judge them, and just love them for who they are–but it’s hard.
For those of you in my camp who don’t love the wonderfully iconic Halloween candy, but, like me, survive off of several sugar fixes a day, I created a solution in the form of a cupcake.

It’s a Halloween Miracle!Candy Corn Twist Cupcakes


Candy-Corn Twist Cupcakes
Work Time: 1 hr    Total Time: 1 hr

Meringue Buttercream (recipe below)
Orange and yellow gel paste food coloring
20 baked standard size cupcakes

  1. Divide buttercream into thirds. Color one-third orange and one-third yellow. Fit a large piping bag with a #826 open-star tip. Spoon orange, yellow and white buttercream into the piping bag side by side (not on top of one another).
  2. Pipe onto a plate until all three colors appear, then pipe swirls onto each cupcake. Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to a day.

Makes 20

Meringue Buttercream

  1. Whisk together 5 large egg whites and 1 1/4 cups sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved, about 5 min. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers–you shouldn’t feel any sugar crystals.
  2. Transfer bowl to the mixer stand with the whisk attachment and beat on high until mixture cools and stiff peaks form, 10 to 12 min.
  3. Reduce speed to medium high and add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 4 sticks unsalted, softened butter a little at a time. (Buttercream may curdle but will become smooth as you continue to beat it.)
  4. Use within a few hours or refrigerate up to a week. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low until smooth.

Makes about 5 cups

Recipes and Food Styling by Tara Bench
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct 2010
Photography Kate Sears
Prop Styling Gerri Williams


Let’s just all get along this Halloween.

Tip: No, you don’t have to use Meringue Buttercream for these cupcakes. If you’re insane and decide not to make this most delicious frosting (too judgy?), feel free to use your favorite frosting in it’s place. Meringue Buttercream is rich, but tastes light and airy, smooth and not too sweet. Sometimes referred to as “crack” in cupcake-lover circles–it takes a mixer and a bit of time, but colors well with gel paste dye and is ideal for piping.


Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

By | Baking + Desserts, Cupcakes, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Halloween’s A Comin’

They are just mini. They are mini marshmallow pumpkins. I want to squeeze them and then I want to eat them.
It’s a little like eating a Peeps (but deliciously homemade) on top of your favorite chocolate cupcake. No, it’s A LOT like that.
Do it for Halloween’s sake.

I know a lot of you won’t have an Ateco number 868 French Star tip hanging around (also referred to as #8B). It’s worth getting for this recipe alone. The large piping tips are only a couple of dollars, and if you don’t have a baking supply store with Ateco products around, hit up Williams-Sonoma or another website.
The tip will come in handy for all sorts of projects after it’s used for mini marshmallow pumpkins. I’ve piped buttercream on larger cupcakes (very cute!), the filling of twice baked potatoes, and choux paste for pretty éclairs.

So, feel free to say “This comes highly recommended,” to the store clerk when purchasing this lovely star tip. She won’t think you’re strange at all.

Other things I would tell you if I were standing right next to you:
•Have a candy thermometer for the marshmallow.
•Make and cool your cupcakes before starting on the marshmallow, so they are ready to go.
•Having a friend handy when making these is awesome, you can pipe, they can sprinkle sugar.
•I dump my orange sugar in a little sheet pan and sprinkle the sugar on the marshmallow over the pan. No mess, and I can transfer any leftover sugar back to a container.

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes 46 Mini Cupcakes

Marshmallow is piped onto cupcakes and covered in crunchy orange sugar. Make cupcakes from a mix or your favorite recipe. Easiest pumpkin patch you’ve ever grown!


  • 1 envelope (2¾ tsp) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 46 mini chocolate cupcakes
  • 46 green licorice pastels
  • ½ cup orange sanding sugar


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water to soften. Prepare a large piping bag fitted with a #868 French star tip; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat dissolve granulated sugar in ¼ cup water, stirring. Remove spoon; with a pastry brush, brush inside edges of pan with water to remove sugar crystals and boil until the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238ºF) on a candy thermometer. Pour mixture into gelatin without scraping pan, and whisk on medium speed for 3 min. Increase speed to high and whisk until soft peaks form, 8 to 10 min.
  3. Transfer marshmallow to prepared piping bag and immediately pipe dollops onto the tops of the cupcakes; use your finger to stop the flow of marshmallow from the piping tip and to create a flat top for each pumpkin. (Pipe just 5 pumpkins at a time so marshmallow doesn’t set before you decorate.) Working quickly, add licorice pastel “stems” and coat generously with sanding sugar. Allow pumpkins to set about 1 hr before serving; store covered up to a day.


Marshmallow is piped onto cupcakes and covered in crunchy orange sugar. Make cupcakes from a mix or your favorite recipe. Easiest pumpkin patch you’ve ever grown!

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Recipe and food styling by Tara Bench, originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal, Oct/10. Photography Kate Sears. Prop Stylist Gerri Williams