Applesauce Spice Batter:
½ cup raisins
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1½ cups sweetened applesauce
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
Vanilla Butter Frosting (for crumb coat):
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons milk, plus additional if needed
72 ounces Rolled Fondant
Raisins for eyes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two standard 12-cup muffin pansand one mini muffin pan; line with paper cupcake liners, or lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour.
- Plump the raisins by steaming with a double boiler; steam the raisins about 1 minute or until softened. Thoroughly drain, or spread the raisins on paper toweling to dry. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Place a steamer or plastic or wire mesh colander on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the sugar, then add the brown sugar, taking an additional 3 to 4 minutes, beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugars, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the applesauce, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and applesauce, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the raisins.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill 2/3 full, using about ¼ cup of batter per cup.
Tip: Avoid over-filling the liners which may cause the batter to run-over the sides when baking. It is better to bake any remaining batter separately after the first pan of cupcakes has finished baking.
- Bake standard size cupcakes, rotating pan halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and a toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Mini cupcakes will take 10 to 12 minutes to bake. Cool slightly in cupcake pan, and turn out of pan when cool enough to handle. Repeat process with any remaining batter. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
Vanilla Butter Frosting (for crumb coat):
- In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer or wooden spoon and beat the butter and shortening until smooth. Add vanilla and beat until well mixed. Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will appear dry after all the sugar has been added. Add milk and beat until frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Add additional milk if necessary to make a good spreading consistency.
Assemble Layers and First Crumb Coat:
- Each ghost is made with 2 standard size cupcakes and one mini cupcake stacked on top of each other. Place one standard size cupcake, upside down, on a small cake board. Secure the cupcake to the cake board; place about a teaspoon of frosting in the middle of the board, center the cupcake and press the cake lightly into the frosting to adhere.
- Using an offset spatula spread a small amount of frosting on top of the cupcake. Place a second standard size cupcake, upside down, on top of the 1st cake. Spread a small amount of frosting on top and place a mini cupcake, right side up, on top. Crumb coat the cakes by covering the sides and top of the cupcake stack with a thin layer of frosting. Use thefrosting to fill in the gaps between the cupcake layers. Let the cupcake stack sit until the crumbcoat is dried to the touch. At this point you can cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Tip: the crumb coat is a thin layer. Don’t worry if the cake shows through in places, it will be covered again with another crumb coat layer.
- Cover remaining frosting tightly with plastic wrap until ready to continue with cake, or cover tightly and refrigerate if completing the following day.
Second Crumb Coat:
- The second crumb coat should be applied just prior to covering the cake with rolled fondant. Rewhip frosting to bring it back to a fluffy texture, adding a small amount of milk if necessary. Apply a second crumb coat by covering the sides and top of the cupcake stack with a thin layer of frosting over the first crumb coat. The second crumb coat will provide a sticky surface for the fondant to stick to.
- While the second crumb coat is still fresh and soft, cover the cupcake stack with rolled fondant. Use about 6 ounces of rolled fondant for each ghost. Roll the fondant into an 8 inch circle. Drape the fondant over the cupcake stack, creating folds in the fondant for a ghost appearance. Place raisin eyes with a small dab of frosting. Complete one ghost at a time, keeping the remaining fondant covered until ready to use.
Decorating List and Timeline:
I used the following decorating items and timeline to assemble and decorate the Ghost Cupcakes:
Small Cake boards, cut to about 3 inches in diameter
72 ounces rolled fondant
Raisins (for eyes)
Make the fondant. Shape the fondant into a thick disk and rub a thin coating of shortening over the entire surface to keep the fondant from drying out. Wrap the fondant disc tightly in at least two layers of plastic wrap and then place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store at room temperature to cure overnight.
I made two batches, about 6 pounds, of Classic Rolled Fondant for these cupcake ghosts. I used about 6 ounces for each ghost.
Leftover fondant can be wrapped tightly and stored for a future project.
Bake the cupcakes. After the cupcakes are cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight to tighten the crumb and firm up the cake.
Prepare the frosting. Assemble the cupcake stacks and apply the first frosting crumb coat. Let the crumb coat sit until dry and firm to the touch, at least 30 minutes, or place in the refrigerator to speed up the drying. Cover remaining frosting tightly with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container until ready to continue with cake.
Remove the cured fondant from the plastic and knead for several minutes to warm the fondant until it is pliable and smooth. You probably won’t need any vegetable shortening on the rolling surface for this kneading, however if it starts to stick use a little shortening on the rolling surface and your hands. If the fondant is stiff and difficult to knead, microwave for about 15 seconds to warm it up. If the fondant seems too dry you can knead a small amount of vegetable shortening in, or if it seems too sticky knead a small amount of powdered sugar or cornstarch in. Cover until ready to use.
Apply the second crumb coat just prior to covering with fondant.
Complete one ghost at a time, keeping the remaining fondant covered until ready to use. Roll about 6 ounces of fondant into an 8 inch circle for each ghost.