These cupcakes are a real scream! The ‘brain-coloured’ buttercream is flavoured with vanilla and laced with cherry ‘gore’ for a sharp yet delicious taste that kids will love to make.
- Red Velvet cupcakes:
- 1⁄4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2⁄3 cup (140g) superfine (caster) sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1⁄2tsp vanilla extract
- 4tbsp red food coloring
- pinch of salt
- 1⁄4 cup (30g) cocoa
- 11⁄2 cups (225g) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted twice
- 1⁄2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
- 1⁄2tsp cider vinegar
- 1⁄2tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- Cherry sauce:
- 1 cup (125g) black cherries, very ripe and de-stoned or canned
- 1⁄4 cup (50g) superfine (caster) sugar
- 1⁄2 cup (120ml) water or juice from the canned cherries, if using
- 1⁄2tsp lime juice
- 1tbsp cornstarch (cornflour) or arrowroot
- Buttercream frosting:
- 1⁄2 cup (115g) butter, at room temperature
- 31⁄2 cups (500g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, sifted
- 4tbsp full-fat milk
- 1⁄2tsp vanilla extract
- Red and black food coloring
Red Velvet cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until very light (about 5 minutes). Beat in the egg until well incorporated. In a small separate bowl, beat the vanilla extract, coloring, salt, and cocoa into a thick paste. Beat into the butter mixture.
- With the mixer running on a slow speed, add the flour to the mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour.
- Stir the vinegar into the baking soda, add to the batter, and fold in using a spatula. Leave to stand for 3 minutes.
- Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- To make the cherry sauce, blend the cherries in a bowl using an electric hand blender, then place in a medium-sized heavy-based pan with the sugar, water, lime juice, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Heat on medium until the cherries begin to release their liquid, and then slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the cherry mixture has thickened to the desired consistency (runny enough to pipe but thick enough to prevent bleeding into the frosting). Allow to cool.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter in a medium bowl. Add 21⁄4 cups (300g) of the sugar, the milk, and vanilla extract, and blend together with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the remaining sugar until you reach a consistency you can work with – soft enough to pipe, but thick enough to hold its shape well.
- Add the food colourings using a wooden toothpick so that you can add very small amounts, until you get the color you want.
- Fit a piping bag with a number 10 tip and spoon in the frosting. Pipe the frosting in a line up the middle of each cake – just off-centre – and zigzag back down from side to side, or in any brain pattern you like. Repeat for the opposite side.
- Refill the piping bag with cherry pulp and pipe into gaps in the ‘brain matter’ for a ‘blood-stained’ effect.
A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! by Lily Vanilli, photography by David Munns, illustration by Paul Parker, published by CICO Books.
Top tip for making Lily Vanilli’s blood-stained brain cupcakes
For these cakes, Lily used large red velvet cupcakes as a base, but any cake recipe you like will work. Jumbo-sized paper cases are double the size of regular cupcakes, so use an extra-large muffin tin and make up two batches of the red velvet batter, cooking them for an extra couple of minutes.