Halloween is too, too fun; I don't think I'll ever outgrow it.
OK, there's no time for messing around; let's cut to the chase!
DEVIL'S FOOD CUPCAKES
(from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 32 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa & hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour - salt.
Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat & pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4-5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla & then cocoa mixture; beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream, and beating until just combined after each addition.
Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake, rotating halfway through, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire rack to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks & let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces & at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine egg whites, sugar & salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low & gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy & glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl with a flexible spatula & continue beating until frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container & refrigerate up to 3 days or free up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
And now for the fun! (Thank you for pretending these pictures do not represent the worst food photography you've ever seen.)
7 hours ago