Pumpkin-coffee cupcakes with mocha frosting, “dirt” and bugs (recipe here)
One of my favorite records that came out this year was the self-titled debut from Brooklyn act Widowspeak, and Halloween was a perfect excuse to use it on here: Their music is full of eerie, smoky (and gorgeous) vocals, and there’s a song called “Nightcrawlers,” in which frontwoman Molly Hamilton sings, “Nightcrawlers stay up late, nightcrawlers take the blame.” I made the classic little-kid cupcakes with cookie “dirt” and bugs (specifically, gummy centipedes from Economy Candy and Willy Wonka Sluggles — possibly the cutest name I’ve ever heard for bugs), and for the lyric about staying up late I thought of caffeine (and, of course, the sugar highs kids get from their Halloween candy) and made the cupcakes pumpkin coffee-flavored with mocha frosting. Happy Halloween!
Adapted, just slightly, from Annie’s Eats
Makes about 24-30 cupcakes
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tbsp instant coffee powder
4 large eggs
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
• In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), beat together the pumpkin, both sugars, oil and instant coffee. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next.
• Gradually at the flour mixture on low speed until just combined.
• Fill the cupcake tins about one-half to three-quarters full. Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, separated
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
• Beat together butter, half the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, then add the rest of the powdered sugar and the coffee/vanilla mixture. You can add more powdered sugar or milk until you reach your desired consistency.
Gummy worms, bugs, etc. (I used gummy centipedes cut in half and Willy Wonka Sluggles)
About 1 cup of chocolate cookie “dirt” — I tossed Trader Joe’s Chocolatey Cat Cookies in the food processor. Most of it was finely ground, but I left a few slightly bigger pieces in for texture.
Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to frost the cupcakes. Dip the cupcake face down into the dirt. Top with bugs (or, what I did with the centipedes was stick one end into the cupcake).