Buttercream frosting and a steady hand with the piping bag are all you need to turn chocolate cupcakes into the greatest minds.

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Ingredients

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

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  • Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks, and let cool. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.

  • Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.

  • Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.

  • Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

  • To decorate, use a medium round tip (such as Ateco #12) to pipe a mound of buttercream in the center of cupcake, then outline and pipe a brain design over it.

Reviews (17)

157 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 42
  • 4 star values: 41
  • 3 star values: 41
  • 2 star values: 25
  • 1 star values: 8
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2009
@ Alaskacuisine The human brain does not bleed very much when cut into, so adding red food coloring to the cupcake mix would not make for a more realistic look. The icing recipe did not work for me at all. It curdled when I added the butter and never recovered no matter how long I whipped it. I'm considering storebought icing or making a cream cheese icing.
Rating: Unrated
12/13/2008
I made these for my office at Halloween time. The cake was very chocolately and everyone loved them! I followed the example and made little namecards
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
i just made these. well, i couldn't commit to the time to make the homemade cake itself, so i used a box, but i made the icing...IT WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. i can't believe how delicious the frosting was--i usually HATE frosting!!!
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Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
I used cream cheese frosting, and put streaks of red icing color inside of the icing bag to make them look a bit bloody.
Rating: Unrated
10/24/2008
Try using store brought ready made icing. The consistency is much stiffer for this kind of decorating.
Rating: Unrated
10/21/2008
This just didn't work. I had to add a bunch of powdered sugar in order to make the stuff thick enough to use. Once piped on, they have to be refrigerated, because the frosting melts like butter melts when it gets warm. Tasty though. Any ideas on what I did wrong?
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Rating: Unrated
10/13/2008
I have to agree with Ilovecakemore, poor little goats! -roflol
Rating: Unrated
10/11/2008
Did you mean 1 cup plus 1 stick of butter? I stick is 1/2 cup isn't it?
Rating: Unrated
10/11/2008
I would try Wiltons size 10 or 12 tip. I would also use a different buttercream recipe, the smbc has too much of an adult favor ( I think). I have always had good results with this recipe: 1 stick/1 cup of butter 4 cups of powedered sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp pure vanilla 4 tablespoons of whipping cream ( adding more for a thinner icing) If you want a crusting icing use 1/2 shortening and 1/2 cup of butter.
Rating: Unrated
10/09/2008
Anyone got a recommendation for which tip to use??
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
PURPLEGAL, YOU ARE SO FUNNY!!!!!!!!!
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
A little peach or copper gel paste food coloring gives these a creepy fleshy color. More gross, more fun!
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
One could also make chocolate cupcakes with some red food coloring added... Then dip walnut 1/2's in white chocolate.... dry them to harden the brained shell. and place them onto the cupcake with some chocolate frosting.
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
Yeah, the gel would help. Otherwise, they look more like walnuts!
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
Try adding a little of red food gell over the top for a little more realistic look
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
How inspired and SIMPLE! I'm going to try these, tinting teh sicing green for Franken-brain cupakes. My boys will love them!
Rating: Unrated
09/27/2008
I made these to celebrate my husband completing his Ph.D., and they were a hit! Hilarious. Also, not very difficult to decorate for the results.