It would be easy to show only the way the cupcakes came out, and give you the instructions about how they are made, but then as you probably know, I don’t ever do things the easy way. So this article is a story about how I made the witches.
I made 3 boxes of cake mix into 6 dozen regular size cupcakes, and a couple dozen mini-cupcakes. What happens is that the box says to fill the regular cupcake cups with 3 Tablespoons of batter; when I did that and got 24 cups filled, I had batter left over. So I filled mini-cupcake cups with 1 Tablespoon of batter each, and got anywhere from 6 to 12 mini-cupcakes with each 2 dozen regular cupcakes. That was the how and why of the mini-witches.
To make the witch, the general directions are to cut a cone out of the cupcake, which will become the pointed hat. Then the empty space left from taking the cone out of the cupcake is filled with frosting- green butter cream- which is overflowing to make the witches head. I used black frosting to paint the eyes and mouth. Then the cone is stuck to the brim of the hat with a drop of frosting, and I piped an orange ring around the cone to fill that space between the rounded bottom of the upside down cone and the brim.
I made the cupcakes over a period of 3 weeks, and then packaged them by the dozen and froze them after they had completely cooled. I was pleasantly surprised at how moist they had kept. Perhaps the only thing that was different from fresh cupcakes was that the paper cups seemed to want to pull away from the cupcake.
When I was making my test version of the witch, I had concerns that the cupcake, and especially the point of the hat, would dry out prematurely and make for an unpleasant product. I decided to do something about that by frosting the cupcake, and dipping the cone, like I would a firm chocolate filling, into a pot of tempered chocolate. I made a couple mistakes in doing all that. First, I frosted the top of the cupcake with chocolate ganache (there is never enough chocolate even with the cupcakes made with chocolate cake mix). The frosting left the cupcake tacky, and with the crusted exterior, seemed to be overkill. Second, dipping the cones just didn’t work for a couple reasons- the chocolate made the cones lose their shape, and made the whole hat heavier so that it tended to squash the head of the witch. I decided I just had to let the cones dry out if they were going to dry.
The brim of the hat is a chocolate wafer cookie. The first time I looked for them, I didn’t find them, but they are available. However, I felt I could improve on the cookie as a brim. I painted a piece of parchment paper with tempered chocolate, and when it was mostly set up, I cut it with a biscuit cutter. The trick is to get the painted chocolate thin enough. I found that using a cup of tempered chocolate (2/3 cup melt and 1/3 cup temper seed) I was able to spread almost a 9 x 13 sheet of parchment and the thickness was about 1/8 inch.
When I started making the mini-cupcake witches, I needed a smaller cookie as the brim of the hat. I found that the OREO cookie wafer was about the right size. So I had to separate the wafers from the center. Never fear, I didn’t let all those centers go to waste- they went to waist. After working with the tempered chocolate, I made brims by using a smaller biscuit cutter for the mini-cupcakes.
The one area in which I did not find the complete solution is in putting the hat on the head. Too often, it seemed the hat squashed the head and the face features were pushed down into the cupcake. I tell people that the witches pulled their hats too low. I think there might be a couple approaches to fixing that problem. First, maybe making the heads bigger would better support the hat. And second, maybe letting the butter cream harden before adding the hat would keep the face from being squashed.