October 2013 Winner: Jessica’s Day of the Dead Cupcakes

Day of the DeadJessica’s fantastic Day of the Dead cupcakes stole the show at our October competition, ‘Death by Chocolate’.  These cupcakes have a Mexican chocolate sponge with a chocolate orange filling, decorated with a traditional Mexican candy skull.  Creepy yet delicious!


  • 265g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt plus pinch for egg whites
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 200g Mexican chocolate (Jessica used dark choc with orange and cinnamon spices in)
  • 120ml milk
  • 125g unsalted butter, room temp
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • 150g orange flavoured chocolate (I used Terry’s choc orange with popping candy, half of one will do)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

2. Melt chocolate and milk together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. As soon as the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, stir to blend, set aside and cool.

3. Cream the butter and soft brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add chocolate mixture and vanilla and mix until completely blended. Add flour mixture in three parts, blending well until flour disappears.

4. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into batter. Spoon batter into cupcake papers about 2/3 full. Cook for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

5. To make the filling: melt the orange flavoured chocolate and place in a mixing bowl with the cream and icing sugar. Beat the chocolate cream until smooth. Chill until the mixture becomes firm enough to pipe, stir occasionally.

6. When the cupcakes are cooled, carefully cut out the middle section like you would a butterfly bun. Pipe (or spoon) a small amount of the chocolate filling into the middle of the sponge to replace the part you just cut out. With this piece, cut off the top, and place on the filling, softly pressing it down so it is level with the rest of the cupcake sponge.

7. To make the frosting: cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla and cinnamon and continue beating until frosting is of a good spreading consistency. Pipe/spread over cooled cupcakes and decorate.

8. I melted a bar of white chocolate into 3D skull moulds, and when set placed them on top of the icing. If you are a keen decorator or want to impress guests even further, you can carefully paint the skulls like I did to look like the Mexican day of the dead skulls.

August 2013 Winner: Jessie’s Ursula’s Tentacles Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Rich chocolate cupcake with ganache icing and fondant tentacles

Jessie’s creepily realistic Ursula’s Tentancles ooze out of a rich chocolate cupcake with ganache icing.  Her vegan recipe is adapted from Lily Vanilli’s Devil’s Food recipe in A Zombie Ate My Cupcake.  You can read more about Jessie’s cupcakes on her blog Mad Hatters Pantry.


  • 1/4 cup non-dairy margarine
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup soy yogurt
  • 4 tbsp strong coffee, cooled
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
2. Mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle. After 5-10 min it will look thick and a little lumpy – this is good.
3. Use an electric mixer to cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the soy milk mixture, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup flour and beat until fully combined.
4. Sift the remaining flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a separate bowl.
5. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture a little at a time, alternating with the soy yogurt, and stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the coffee 1 tbsp at a time, stirring in gently until smooth.
5. Use an ice-cream scoop to spoon the batter into the prepared cases, filling around 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 min until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 min, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • 100g semisweet dark chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate with min 70% cocoa solids
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (without letting the water touch the bowl).
2. Remove from the gear and mix in the sugar and salt. Quickly add the soy yogurt and lemon juice, stirring until combined. Make sure you add it before the chocolate starts to set! Set the mixture aside to cool (or pop on the fridge for a few minutes if you can’t wait).
3. Once cool, spread over your cooled cupcakes in a haphazard fashion to create chocolate waves. Decorate with sugarpaste tentacles (see below).

Sugarpaste Tentacles

  • Sugarpaste in black, dark purple and light purple in a ratio of 6:3:1
  • Gum Tragacanth
  • Edible glue
1. Knead a small amount of gum tragacanth into each colour of sugarpaste. Wrap in cling film and leave overnight.
2. Knead the sugarpaste again to loosen it up, as it will be firm now.
3. Divide your black sugarpaste into 48 pieces and roll into balls. Repeat with the dark purple.
4. Take one black ball and begin to roll it so that the end tapers. Do the same with a dark purple ball. Roll the two tapered balls together until you have a tentacle shape. Set aside and repeat until you have 48 tentacles.
5. Divide the light purple into 144 pieces and roll into small balls. These will be your suckers so you may need to make more or less depending on the size of your tentacles. Make a small dimple in each ball.
6. Leave to dry out a little (I left mine overnight).
7.  Stick 3 suckers to each tentacle, securing with edible glue. Stick 4 tentacles into the icing on each cupcake. If you want them to have a melty, wet-look then do this a few hours before serving. For firmer, upright tentacles do this just before you serve.

July 2013 Winner: Lisa’s Life’s a Beach Cupcakes

Life's a Beach

Lisa’s beautifully crafted and deliciously creamy cupcakes for The Great British Summer competition were created from no less than four recipes: toffee ice cream, cupcakes, butterscotch sauce and vanilla buttercream!

Toffee Cake Batter Ice Cream

  • 2 cups/500ml Thick cream
  • 397g tin of Condensed milk
  • 1 cup/250g cake batter mix (Lisa used Wrights Baking “Toffee Cake Mix”)
  1. Place deep baking dish or a 2 litre freezer safe container in the freezer to chill
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form
  3. In another bowl, mix the condensed milk with the cake batter
  4. Fold the cream into the condensed milk until combined
  5. Pour into container and leave to chill for 45 mins until sides start to freeze
  6. Remove from freezer and beat vigorously to break down ice crystals
  7. Return to freezer and repeat beating every thirty mins for 3-6 hours until ice cream is frozen and creamy

Ice-cream bread cupcakes

  • 1.5 ltr Toffee Cake Batter Ice Cream (as above)
  • 2 cups/300g Self Raising Flour
  1. Pre-heat oven to Gas mark 5/190 degrees
  2. Remove ice cream from the freezer to soften for 10-15 mins
  3. Combine flour and ice cream thoroughly
  4. Fill cupcake cases or ice cream cones to approx 2/3 full (they rise a lot!)
  5. Bake for 18-22 minutes

Butterscotch Sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp syrup
  • 100ml cream
  1. Melt butter and sugar
  2. Add cream and syrup and cook to a very slight simmer
  3. Inject butterscotch sauce into the centre of cupcakes

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 250g Icing sugar
  • 80g Butter
  • 25ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Whisk butter and sugar until fully combined
  2. Add milk and vanilla, continue to whisk until light and fluffy (5-10 mins)
  3. Top cupcakes with buttercream in desired pattern

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