Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Retro Halloween Horror Cupcakes!

     During the 1950's through the 1970's, Halloween cupcakes were not a sophisticated art form that were only made by top pastry chefs.  Back then, Halloween cupcakes were simply cute or slightly morbid!  Halloween cupcakes were made with simple designs, simple techniques and simple creepy ideas.
     Adults from the fifties and sixties seemed to have a knack for creating minimalistic Halloween cupcake designs that caused the viewers of the Halloween horror cupcakes to get the creeps.  I remember someone asking my neighbor's mom about how she got her cupcakes to look creepy.  She responded by saying "Just pretend that you escaped from a psycho ward!"  I guess that it helps to create a state of mind that will enable creepy ideas to flow freely.
     It was not till the 1980's that horror movies became reliant on computerized special effects.  Before then, horror movie film makers relied on capturing the viewing audience's imagination and twisting it to hold their imagination in a dimension of terror.  Nowadays, computer graphics and sound play more importance than good horror screenwriting.  Horror novel writing is still a good medium for truly twisting the readers imagination and leading it to a dimension of dementia!
     Some of the scariest morbid looking cupcakes happen to be made by kids who are into creepy things!  Kids do not rely on special effects or sophisticated cake decorating techniques, when they use their natural craft to create a Halloween cupcake that is intended to scare the living bejeezus out of someone.  Not every kid is a genius, artist or brain surgeon!  Then again, neither is every adult.  Many kids who are viewed by naive adults as being less talented than they should be, do create rough looking scary Halloween cupcakes that are truly blood curdling.
     Rough, unpolished and unprofessional looking Halloween horror cupcakes have a way of capturing eye contact.  People try to look away, but they cannot break from their fixated gaze for long.
     Those who gaze upon the terrible looking Halloween cupcake, then wonder what kind of a sick twisted demented mind could have made such a psychotic captivating low quality rough looking masterpiece that is creepy enough to possibly be made by a basket weaver mass murderer from an insane asylum who made the front page of the newspaper by escaping to a suburban neighborhood at night!  Then this rhetorical question starts to slip past the lips of the hypnotized onlooker;  "What kind of a sick twisted....???"
     The hypnotized stare is broken by a child saying "Thats my cupcake I made!  You can have it if you want it!"  The unprepared trembling response by the shocked transfixed Halloween horror cupcake viewer usually goes like this;  "No!  I mean, thats okay!  You can give that cupcake to someone else if....   never mind!  I like that cupcake, okay!  Thanks!  Geesh!  It sure is scary looking."
     Then the child smiles, while thinking "I sure scared the bejeezus out of that one!"
     The only sophisticated item in the recipe is the chiffon batter for the cupcakes.  Chiffon cake batter is basically a wet cake batter that contains oil for a very elegant texture.  The wet batter is folded with meringue.  Think of a chiffon cake batter as being a souffle!  Chiffon cake is airy, elegant and light as a feather!  Cupcake lovers can eat a dozen chiffon batter cupcakes and not feel weighed down.
     During the seventies, the healthy eating habit craze began.  Cupcakes that were en vogue had minimal amounts of frosting or icing applied as decorations.  The focus was on the cake and not the evil sugary Halloween cupcake topping.  I used that theme for all but one of the cupcakes in the photographs above.  The Wormy Brain Cupcake had a fair size mound of sweet simple buttercream frosting.  A small pastry bag with no metal tip was used to make the brain.  Store bought gummy worms were cut in half and stuck into the brain.
     I chose a simple buttercream frosting, because it is easy for kids to work with.  Kids like this kind of sweet creamy frosting!  The frosting does not need to be piled a mile high, because these are retro style kid's cupcakes from an age gone by.  Besides, the featherlight chiffon cake is what the cupcake fans are after anyway!
     A few different application techniques were used to decorate the cupcakes.  The Blood Thirsty Ghost Cupcake was decorated with spread, dab and smear techniques.  This style is good for those who have no pastry bags or parchment paper cones.
    The Scary Green Octopus Cupcake, The Bat Costume Trick Or Treater Cupcake, The Black Spider Cupcake, The Black Voodoo Monster Cupcake and the Three Eyed Seymour Cupcake were all decorated with either a mini star tip pastry bag or a mini cone tip pastry bag.  Those are easy kitchen tools for kids to learn to use.  Small round pearl drop cake decorations were used for the eyes.  Shredded coconut that is dried crisp can be easily broken into tiny teeth shapes.
     Adults and children do not have to be certified master pastry chefs, just to make fun creepy Halloween Horror Cupcakes.  Pretend that you have just escaped from an insane asylum and get into making some simple creepy looking cupcake designs that draw stares.  The whole idea is just to have fun and possibly scare the living bejeezus out of somebody!

     Chiffon Cake Batter:
     This recipe makes enough batter for about 24 medium size cupcakes!  I chose to make 12 cupcakes and a few mini cake shapes for projects later in the week.  I will post a few gourmet cupcake toppings this week too.
     Chiffon cake was an award winning dessert that was created by a California insurance salesman, Harry Baker in 1927.  Harry Baker was also a caterer to the Hollywood stars.  The stars and Hollywood restaurants all purchased his chiffon cakes.  The chiffon cake recipe was a closely guarded secret for nearly twenty years, till he sold the recipe to General Mills.  
     Chiffon cake almost never dries out and it remains moist.  Is is perfect for pastry creams, swiss butter creams, mousse and damp icings.  Chiffon cake will hold up well when frozen or when left in open air for days.   
     Chiffon cake batter Halloween cupcakes are light as a feather.  One thing about Chiffon batter is that the baking soda and salt measurements cannot be on the heavy side.  When sweet icing is applied, the salt will be easily noticed.
     An electric mixer is best for both the batter and frosting recipes.  The chiffon cake will not stick to the cupcake paper, because of the oil content.  The top of the cupcakes can become soft if the cupcakes are stored in sealed container.  Allow the surface of the cupcakes to dry before decorating if condensation occurs.
     There is nothing tricky about making chiffon batter.  Just gently fold the meringue into the batter, because it is the air in the meringue that gives chiffon cake its light texture.
     I flavored one half of the vanilla batter with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.  If you add a liquid flavoring like orange juice concentrate, then decrease the proportion of water the keep the consistency of the batter in balance.
     Sift together:
     - 5 ounces of cake flour
     - 4 ounces of granulated sugar
     - 1 pinch of salt
     - 1/4 ounce of baking powder
     Set the dry ingredients aside.
     Combine and mix these ingredients together in a mixing bowl:
     - 2 1/2 ounces of vegetable oil
     - 2 1/2 ounces of egg yolk
     - 3 3/4 ounces of water
     - 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
     Add a little bit of the liquid mixture to the dry mixture at a time, while stirring, till the ingredients are combined.
     Set the base batter mixture aside.
     Place 5 ounces of egg white in an electric mixer bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of cream of tartar.
     Whisk the egg white on medium speed, till soft peaks appear.
     Rain 2 1/2 ounces of sugar on the meringue.
     Continue mixing, till medium stiff peaks appear.
     Fold the meringue into the base batter mixture.

     Place cupcake paper liners in a muffin or cupcake pan.
     Fill the paper cups with chiffon batter, till they are 3/4's full.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till a toothpick can be inserted and it comes out dry.  (The time depends on the size of the cupcakes.  The time can be between 8 to 15 minutes.)
     Allow the cupcakes to cool.
     Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a drying rack.
     Allow the cupcakes to stale for about 1 hour.

     Basic Buttercream Icing:
     Kids like this sweet icing and it is easy to work with!  
     This is not a stiff icing, so do not attempt to make roses or flower petals.  Food Coloring can be added to small amounts of this icing after the large white icing batch is made.  Just fold and mash the different food colors into the divided amounts of icing in separate containers.  Only 1 or two drops are needed for lighter shades.  Black food coloring takes a few drops to produce a jet black color.
     Place 1/2 pound of butter into an electric mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.
     Mix at a low speed till the butter softens.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
     Add 15 ounces of confectioners sugar, but only add a little bit of the sugar at a time.
     Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl and paddle occasionally.  The mixture will be very stiff.
     Note:  For the next step, you will have to judge how thick that you want the icing to be.  For a stiff icing add 2 tablespoons of milk.  For a medium stiff icing that is easily worked, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of milk.  Only add one tablespoon of milk at a time, then judge the consistency of the icing!  If you add too much milk, then you will have to start a new batch of sugar and butter paste to tighten the loose icing with.
     After the ingredients combine to create a stiff smooth mixture, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time, let it combine while mixing and judge the consistency to see if it is to your liking.  Three to 4 tablespoons of milk should be the maximum amount added.  The icing should be workable at room temperature.

     Basically, the Halloween Horror Cupcake decorating techniques are up to you or the kids!  Small pastry bags with small metal tips are ideal with adult supervision.  Kids can lodge metal or plastic pastry bag tips in their throat, while unsupervised, so take caution!  Parchment paper cones for piping icing are an alternative and they are easy to make.
     Happy Halloween!  Mwahahahaha!  ...  Shawna  

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