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Spooky-Fun Cakes and Cupcakes: Bewitching Halloween Baking

Published on: October 15, 2014

Better than Halloween candy: Halloween cake!

What a fun time of year to consider baking a cake. As a home baker, I’m constantly on the lookout for inspiration that is also doable in my own kitchen and Halloween offers many ideas that can be interpreted into cake. Click through to see some of my favorite ideas. 


Simple is good: candy-corn cake

A triple-layer vanilla cake is a wonderful vehicle to introduce one of my all-time favorite Halloween treats: Brach’s Candy Corn. I don’t mind admitting I swapped out some of my siblings’ candy corn with something from my own Halloween loot because I’m such a fan. Also, I may not have mentioned it to them … until now.

This cake is crumb-coated in the colors of traditional candy corn (crumb-coat is a thin layer of frosting that seals in stray crumbs before the second frosting is added.) . While the crumb coat is usually done in preparation for a final design, don’t be afraid to adopt this minimal style. A rustic design is very hip right now.

Better than candy corn

I love this elegant design; it would look great at a kids’ party or even at a more upscale occasion. The tinted vanilla buttercream roses were completed with a Wilton 1M piping tip. Find tips on decorating with frosting here. Picture each rose as a clock face. I start in the center, pull down to 6 o'clock, and then move counter-clockwise back to 7.


Ruffles that mimic the colors of candy corn are a show-stopper. I usually use a Wilton 104 tip and keep the wide end of the tip against the cake while slowly spinning the cake away from me. There are many different techniques to achieve this look; find something that works best for you. 

Colorful layers

Who doesn't love a surprise inside the cake? Tinting three layers of cake is as easy as it sounds!

  1. Divide the batter into three separate bowls.
  2. Tint each bowl individually.
  3. Then, bake.

    Because the top layer of this candy-corn cake needed to be white, I mixed a vanilla cake with six egg whites instead of four whole eggs (the yellow of the yolks prevent a vanilla cake from baking white). Then, I tinted only two layers.

    Tip: Consider using almond extract instead of vanilla for a yummy alternative.

Candy-corn cupcakes

These are vanilla cupcakes and mini-cupcakes decorated to look like candy corn. I separated out the vanilla buttercream, but not evenly since I needed considerably more yellow than orange or white. Adding a piece of candy on top might not have been necessary, but I liked it — baker’s choice! This is a perfect treat for a neighborhood Halloween party, Scout meeting, or any event where you don't want to be bothered with slicing up a cake and handing out plates. 


Inspired by Frankenstein, I baked a tinted, triple-layer vanilla cake and filled it with tinted vanilla buttercream. His hair is a very thick dark chocolate ganache; I wanted to lessen the dripping down the side so I used less cream (when the word “ganache” is tossed about, simply remember it means “chocolate melted with hot milk or cream”). This Frank is way cute and I think he’s got a bit of a cowlick. It was a design choice to leave a bit of roughness on the green buttercream.

Frankenmonster cupcakes

These little Frankenmonster cupcakes are so cute and scary, I couldn’t stop laughing at them! I consider these cupcakes to be quite doable for the cake-decorating novice.

For optimal effect: Bake the green-tinted vanilla cupcakes in green cupcake liners.


  1. Using a large round piping tip (or large cut in the piping bag/freezer bag), circle twice around the cupcake.
  2. Upend the cupcake and dip it into chocolate ganache (I had some leftover from the cake) with a very slight smooshing effect (aka flattop hairdo). 
  3. Immediately dip into a bowl of Nestle’s mini-morsels. 
  4. Add candy eyes if you have some available.

Bride of Frankenstein cake

I sometimes run off the rails between interpretation and recreation. My "Bride of Frankenstein" cake is an interpretation; a re-creation would almost have demanded something with a domed profile. The cake is a triple-layer chocolate cake with a chocolate fudge filling; The cupcake is a chocolate cupcake with a chocolate buttercream “hairdo” and iconic vanilla buttercream streaks.

Tip: An easy alternative to the whipped fudge filling is Nutella. To make it stiff enough to support a layer or two resting on top, whip in powdered sugar using an electric hand mixer. 

Caution: Be sure to add the vanilla streaks! Leaving a smooth, round chocolate buttercream frosting on top of a cupcake can take on a, ahem, distinctive biological appearance. 


Bring on the scary! This is a basic, triple-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. The bottom border was piped on with my favorite Wilton 1M piping tip. The web on top of the cake was made when I melted some Nestle’s chocolate morsels, spooned it into a piping bag, and slowly (but not too slowly) piped a spiral of chocolate on top of the cake. I immediately ran the tip of a knife under hot water to warm it and ran it from the center of the cake to edge. The finished streaks gave it a web appearance and I didn’t have to worry about any of the evenness. It’s cake; I shouldn’t have to be anxious.

The spiders are a variation of a homemade treat I enjoyed when I was a kid — haystacks. One bag of melted chocolate chips and a can of La Choy chow mein noodles and we’re in business.

How I made the spiders: 

  1. I laid out a piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) and gently picked out eight noodles.
  2.  I placed them in a spider-leg pattern (clearly I’m not an entomologist).
  3. I ran a pecan half through the chocolate and pressed it into the center for the body.
  4. I popped them into the fridge for about an hour.

Dress it up

A slice of cake can really be a show-stopper. Consider using a plate or tablecloth that offers a high contrast in color as a way to highlight the artistry of your cake. 

Don't have a cake platter? Use a hot glue gun to glue a candle holder to the bottom of a plate. Just make sure it is stable enough that it doesn't tip over. Using hot glue means it is temporary. You can run dishes through the dishwasher and get your original plates back as the glue melts away. Voila! 

Scrumptious witches' brooms

Since I was working with haystacks, I just started goofing around. Here’s a version of a witch’s brooms. Chocolate-coated chow mein noodles wrapped around a Pocky candy stick. I would have used pretzels, but I didn’t have any in the house. But I had Pockys! 

Simple and delicious haystacks

When I ran out of ideas, I simply started churning out haystacks. This is a perfect no-bake treat kids can assemble. Once the chocolate is melted, noodles mixed in and little hands washed — give your kids the bowl and let ’em go. This activity can be done while sitting at the table which might be more inviting for kids with balance or fine-motor concerns.

Idea: Consider adding nuts or raisins into the mix.

Warning: Kids and chocolate can get messy; applies to adults as well.

Easy-peasy candy topper

These are chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream topped with white chocolate masks I found at the store. Keep it simple. Halloween fun doesn’t have to be over the top or complicated — especially for home bakers.

More Halloween inspiration

Cake-making tips for amateurs

20 Halloween treats for kids

Awesome recipes for leftover Halloween candy

10 healthy Halloween treats

Halloween-themed lunch ideas for kids


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