On any given day I am partial to baking, but I simply can’t resist the opportunity when the occasion actually calls for it. An open, English-speaking babies play group here hosts a casual Halloween party each year and parents are asked to bring snacks for sharing. Last year I made chocolate spiderweb cookies, this year I decided to go with cupcakes. I used my simple go-to vanilla cupcake recipe and decorated each cake with super-easy-to-make chocolate buttercream frosting and purple or orange “confetti” sprinkles. In my baking bag of tricks (a plastic bag full of random decorating utensils, shoved in the corner cabinet) I discovered my Wilton pirate candypick mold, and thought the skulls could make for appropriately festive cupcake toppers (which I used on maybe a third of the cakes). I must admit that although the skulls are cute, white chocolate is a tad tricky to work with… I’m not sure if it’s the molds or the chocolate itself, but I had mixed results and a few sad breakages of crossbones along the way. Perhaps candy melts work better in these molds? Anyway, the finished cupcakes were received with some lovely comments from other parents and excited responses from little ones. I also received some very nice compliments on the chocolate crackles (yes, I admit it… I made some more!). And L (who was dressed as a ladybug for the occasion) had a few happy nibbles on one before my husband polished the rest off, so the baking and decorating efforts paid off nicely in the end.

A festive skull cupcake

Halloween cupcakes on parade

L as a lovely boy ladybug at the party

Second batch of chocolate crackles this week (just to show you what they look like!)


Prep Time: 15 Min, Cook Time: 15-20 Min


200 g butter, softened
370 g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
400 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml milk


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line cupcake trays with cupcake cases*.
    *Depending on size of cupcake trays/cases, you will make approximately 24-30 cupcakes with this amount of batter.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer. Add one egg at a time and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternating batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  3. Spoon mixture evenly among the cupcake cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Did you know that these cupcakes can be baked in advance and stored in the freezer? It’s true! Just take out and defrost on your kitchen counter on the day of use.
*Cupcake batter adapted from an Aussie recipe


Prep Time: 5-10 Min


250 g butter, softened
480 g icing sugar/icing mixture* (icing mixture is better!)
1-2 tbsp milk
7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted


Use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale. Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa while beating. Add the milk and beat until well combined.

*More good news! Buttercream frosting can also be made in advance! Store it in airtight containers in your fridge/freezer and allow it to reach room temperature before piping.
*For a plain and deliciously simple buttercream, just omit the cocoa powder.


6 thoughts on “VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (AKA spooktacular Halloween treats)

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