When it comes to Halloween, I don't joke around with my treats, and these cupcakes are no exception. It is a holiday that revolves around getting candy, after all!
With a classic chocolate cake base and mounds of fluffy frosting, these cupcakes are super festive and easily customizable. Grab some friends, your favorite candy, and make a batch of these treats.
These cupcakes start with an easy chocolate cake recipe and quick meringue frosting. I actually used The Kitchn's Chocolate Layer Cake recipe because it's such a good all-purpose cake base, and just made a few little tweaks to make it cupcake-friendly. For the meringue frosting, I substituted brown sugar for regular sugar to create a richer, nougat-like flavor to stick with our candy theme! Since the frosting is on the lighter, not-so-sweet side, feel free to pipe on some sky-high swirls.
Finally, just to gild the lily a bit, each cupcake is also filled with a creamy peanut butter filling in a nod to peanut butter cups. You can skip this if your favorite candy doesn't go with peanut butter, or go wild and substitute Nutella or another favorite spread!
So far, these cupcakes already reflect all the best elements from classic candy bars and beloved Halloween treats. Now, here comes the fun part: sprinkle the frosting with your favorite candy toppings! Try roasted peanuts, crumbled candies, chopped candy bars, or candy-covered chocolates. You can even swirl on some caramel sauce or create a peanut butter drizzle.
Candy-Topped Chocolate Cupcakes
For the chocolate cupcakes (adapted from this recipe):
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water
For the peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the brown sugar meringue frosting:
6 large egg whites (see Recipe Note)
2 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To finish: crushed or crumbled candy toppings of your choice
Make the cupcakes: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake tin (or tins) with 24 paper liners and set aside.
Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water until combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them no more than 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer from the tins to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
Make the peanut butter filling: Beat together the butter and peanut butter with a mixer on medium until combined. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix until creamy.
Make the meringue frosting: Place the egg whites and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to just combine. Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water and heat over medium. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Heat the egg white mixture until warm and the sugar is completely dissolved.
Once warmed, return the mixing bowl to the mixer. Whisk the mixture at high speed until medium-stiff peaks are formed, or until the outside of the bowl reaches room temperature. Beat in the vanilla at the end.
Assemble the cupcakes: Once cupcakes are cooled, use an apple corer or paring knife to remove the centers of each cupcake. Fill the cupcakes with the peanut butter filling.
Place the frosting in a pasty bag fitted with a star piping tip. Swirl frosting on top of each cupcake. To finish, sprinkle the cupcakes with whatever candy bar toppings you'd like.
- Note on Raw Egg Whites: This recipe uses raw egg whites. If you are cooking for people who should not consume raw egg whites, substitute pasteurized egg whites, which are available in cartons in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores.
- Using leftover peanut butter filling: You can thin out any remaining peanut butter filling with heavy cream and corn syrup to create a peanut butter glaze. Try adding in a teaspoon of each until desired consistency is reached. You can drizzle this over the cupcakes as well.