Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Fondant Ghosts

by Shawnda on October 26, 2008

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Holiday Favorites

I love baby showers. My favorite part is the cake. And the sherbet punch. And ooohing and aaahing over all the cute little clothes. But mostly, it’s the cake.

My cousin Tabbitha and her husband Chris are expecting their first baby, a girl, in December. My aunt began planning a Halloween-themed shower and my mom called with a request – a cake for the shower. No problem, right? The request: “Something baby” (check!) and “something Halloween-y” (crickets).

Dude. I was at a complete loss. I saw this a while back and fell in love with the cake. The black cake plate, the fluffy white frosting, the contrast between the two… But mostly, it was the black cake plate. (I will find it.)

Either way, it caught my attention. I didn’t want to attempt the marshmallows because I know better than to assume I could replicate the superhuman level of artsy domesticity that adorn Martha’s editors. I went with fondant, inspired by this picture.

Martha’s Devil’s Food Cake is one of my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipes. I topped the Devil’s Food Cupcakes with a fluffy buttercream, chocolate sprinkles, and fondant ghosts.

Sugary Specters
1 recipe Marshmallow fondant
1/8 cup chocolate (chopped or chips)

Roll fondant out on a greased surface to 1/8-inch thick. Use a circle cutter to cut the fondant – I used a 5.5-in pastry cutter.

Drape fondant over… something and lightly arrange the folds. DumDum suckers stuck in a piece of styrofoam are great way to knock several out at one time. And then you can hand the DumDums out to trick or treaters. Or eat them for breakfast. Your call.

As long as it’s not too humid, they should set nicely in 30 minutes. After all ghosts are formed and have set, melt 1/8 cup chocolate in a sealed baggie until it flows easily. Pipe a tester dot onto a plate and hold the plate vertically – if the chocolate droops/runs, let the chocolate sit for 3-5 minutes and try again. Pipe eyes onto each ghost and let dry. Place on cupcakes and enjoy!

The recipe for the top tier, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cake, can be found here.

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Fondant Ghosts

Moist devil's food cake, swiss meringue buttercream, and fondant ghosts make a fun Halloween treat.


  • For cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.
  3. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, and transfer to a mixer. Beat on medium-low speed until cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cocoa-powder mixture. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups and bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to let cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting,
  7. Put sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, and mixture registers 160 degrees on a thermometer.
  8. Transfer bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  9. Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter by the tablespoon, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. Buttercream can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using; beat on lowest speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.


Yields: 24 liberally frosted cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Estimated time: 1 hour


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz October 26, 2008 at 9:15 am



2 holler October 26, 2008 at 10:14 am

You did such a marvellous job with that cake! I am sure it was appreciated :)


3 Annie October 26, 2008 at 10:45 am

I love this! I have had my eye on that Martha cake for a long time as well, but haven’t even considered trying it yet :) Yours looks great!


4 Sylvie October 26, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Wow, that is a brilliant cake. I just know that your friend will love the cake!


5 Kate October 26, 2008 at 3:56 pm

These are unbelievably adorable!!!


6 Monica H October 26, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Very unexpected baby shower cake, but oh so cute!


7 April October 26, 2008 at 7:20 pm

I love your site! You did a fantastic job on this cake! I love it, and it looks soooo cute! Very inspiring, I definately want to try that fondant now. Thanks!


8 Patsyk October 26, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Absolutely adorable! I must say I’m a bit afraid of fondant and all the fancy decorating… I really need to take some classes so I can learn the technique.


9 Jennyfer October 26, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Good job!!!


10 peabody October 27, 2008 at 2:03 am

How cute is that!!!


11 Chelsey October 27, 2008 at 11:39 am

I just recently fell in love with your blog. This cake proves to be yet another reason for me to keep you bookmarked!



12 Leigh October 27, 2008 at 11:55 am

I have to say I like your cake & cupcakes better than the Martha cake that inspired you! Sooo cute. Great job!


13 farida October 27, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Spooky yummy looking cake and cupcakes:) You did an amazing job! So cute!!!!


14 Nicole October 28, 2008 at 12:06 am

I’m in love with those cake stands, too. Search for “black amethyst cake stand” on ebay and you’ll find them in all sizes.


15 Kristen October 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm

You pulled off such a tough combo! Very cute! I bet they loved it!


16 Melissa October 9, 2011 at 12:47 am

I did these and everyone loved them. Didn’t have enough bottles so I use a “dumdum” lollypop stuck in the cupcake and draped my ghosts over it. TWO treats in one LOL Thanks for a wonderful Idea! And NOW I’m not the bitc…I mean Witch on the block anymore.


17 Cindy November 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

These are cute but I really have no reason to make the cute little ghosts. I will keep that idea in my head should the occasion arrive. I am assuming if this makes 24 cupcakes that I can use 2 8 inch cake pans? I don’t have cake pans that are any smaller. I guess I could always make cupcakes minus the ghosts!


18 foodiebride November 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Yep! You’ll get 2 8- or 9-inch layers from the recipe.


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