Broken Glass Brain Injury Halloween Cupcakes
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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!
Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays to celebrate (especially in a college town, when you’re invited to 100000 overlapping parties), but it is one of my favorite holidays to bake for. There aren’t really any Halloween “flavors” (except maybe just, categorically candy) which means I let myself focus on appearance. I made these broken glass brain injury Halloween cupcakes last year. I really liked how they turned out but absolutely hated how they tasted. Basically, typical fake blood tastes bad. It’s essentially just colored and watered down corn syrup. Corn syrup is basically just concentrated sugar. Then, the cupcakes just absorbed tons of fake blood and I ended up with mushy, sickly sweet cupcakes. Like I said, I wasn’t a fan. Anyway, I decided that, because they looked cool, I was going to find a way to make them taste good this year. Luckily, I was successful (I think).
1. Bake Chocolate Cupcakes
First things first, we need chocolate cupcakes. I used a similar recipe as for the high-hat chocolate cupcakes with chocolate-covered coconut frosting a couple months ago except I didn’t include any of the coconut additions.
- 1/3 cup butter (melted)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix together sugars, vanilla extract, and melted butter.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Mix in salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Sift and mix in the cocoa powder.
Mix in the buttermilk.
Mix in the flour.
Spoon the batter evenly into the cupcake liners and bake for ~30min or until a toothpick comes out clean.
2. Make the Brain Frosting
The brain frosting is just pink-colored, vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. To make the brains, use a piping bag with the tip cut off. This will pipe a tubular shape. You can use a rount tip if you want, but it’s not necessary and you have more freedom in terms of sizing if you don’t use a tip. Theoretically you could use any kind of frosting or store bought frosting for this as well. I just like SMBC better than “regular” American buttercream (it’s less sweet).
To make the brains:
- Using a knife or an offset spatula, frost the entire top of the cupcake with a very thin layer. This way, if there happen to be any “holes” in the brain that go all the way down to the cupcake, it will still look pinkish.
- Using a knife (or offset spatula), make a vertical line in the frosting, straight down the middle. This will be your guideline for the halves of the brain.
- Pipe 2 layers of squiggly frosting. For each layer, I use one unbroken squiggle. Make sure there’s not pattern, it will look more realistic that way. Don’t cross the centerline so you end up with lobes.
- 3.5 sticks unsalted butter softened
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3-4 egg whites
- pink gel food coloring
In a double boiler, whip together egg whites and sugar until they reach 140°F.
Remove from heat and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
Mix in butter and vanilla extract. Continue mixing at high speed until it turns into frosting. It may curdle at some point, continue mixing, it will eventually become the right texture.
Add the desired amount of food coloring.
3. Make the Broken “Beer Bottle” Glass
Could I have made clear sugar glass that looked more glass-like? Yes. But, like I said, my goal was to find a good-tasting recipe for these. For strange reasons, burnt sugar, aka caramel, tastes great, but un-burnt sugar, aka clear glass, does not. You could flavor clear glass with flavor oil (if you do this, I suggest cherry oil). However, I’m not a fan of hard candy, and I’m still pretty sure caramel tastes better. I justified my caramel use by calling it a broken beer bottle. I don’t know, being a zombie is probably hard, he might’ve gone to a bar to drown his sorrows and ended up in a bar fight. Make sure the caramel is completely hard before shattering it. I put mine in the refrigerator before breaking it because it was a bit humid and warm where I was. Take pointy shards and stick them into your brains.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan.
Continuously stirring, bring to a boil on high heat and continue stirring.
When the caramel has reached the desired color, immediately pour it out onto your prepared baking sheet.
Let cool and harden.
4. Make the Edible Blood
This was the part I changed up most from last year. When I was making my Game of Thrones cake earlier this year, I came to the realization that cherry juice really looks like blood. It looks enough like blood that I don’t know why it isn’t the standard edible fake blood instead of the gross corn syrupy mix that’s normally used. Anyway, it was effective, tasted way way better, and added an extra dimension of flavor to the cupcakes. Overall, a simple solution for success. Once you have your fake blood, use a spoon to drip it all over your cupcakes, letting it pool on the brains and slightly stain the glass.
- 1 bag frozen cherries
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In some sort of baking pan, combine the cherries and granulated sugar.
Bake for 1.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
Strain out the cherry juice and let cool.
For a slightly more viscous consistency, add corn starch.