I’m in love with these super cute Halloween Spider Cupcakes! Rich chocolate cakes, thick fudge frosting, adorable little faces – and they’re vegan, gluten free, oil free and refined sugar free. They’re almost too cute to eat!
Are these little spider girls and guys cute or what? I think this one wants to give you a little chocolate spider hug!
I see so many recipes for cute Halloween treats, but I don’t see many made with healthy ingredients. That’s why I came up with these Halloween Spider Cupcakes. Healthy ingredients, amazing chocolate cupcakeness, sweet happy spider-osity!
If I had a kid, I would definitely make them these cupcakes. I do have a Graeme and a mom, and I’m happy to report they both loved these. Graeme was the real surprise, since he samples lots of sugary stuff at the libraries, treats people bring in and such. I’m so used to things like date frosting, and so un-used to conventional sugary buttercreams, that I sometimes wonder if “regular” eaters will find the things I make as delicious as I do.
In this case, yes. Way yes! These cupcakes passed the Graeme test with flying colors. He even asked for a second one! That’s a serious endorsement coming from someone who recently kicked a two Mt. Dew a day habit. Go Graeme on that score, btw.
Setting the cute spider-ness aside, I’m completely in love with these as regular chocolate cupcakes. I’m certain there will be more posts where I delve into the cake and frosting. Or dive in.
The cake is my healthier take on Taste of Home’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes. A lot of cake sort of melts in your mouth as soon as you take a bite, cut not these cupcakes. They have substance. And amazing chocolate flavor, and just enough sweetness to be delightful.
I’m super pleased with how they turned out! Especially because of all the changes I made, like using oat flour, replacing the sugar with coconut palm sugar (and cutting it down by replacing a third with applesauce), eliminating the oil, using flax eggs instead of regular…you get the idea. I seriously did a number on that recipe, and the cake is still one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. Great recipe, Taste of Home. It stood up to all these shenanigans.
Don’t even get me started on the date frosting. One word: FUDGY. It really deserves its own post where I can ramble about its awesomeness properly. It’s my take on this Fudgy Dark Chocolate Date Frosting by Cassie at Back to Her Roots, a recipe I’ve played around with tons and adore. My little changes are meant to make it super SUPER smooth, and give the chocolate flavor a boost. But the original is amazing and a little quicker to make, and with either you’re going to have some super delicious chocolate date frosting on your hands. And mouth. And hopefully some on your cakes.
Let’s talk about how amazing, healthy chocolate cupcakes transform into adorable little spiders! The other day I was sprinkling some almond slices on something (I sprinkle almonds slices on many things) and realized they’d make perfect eyes.
That’s what got these spider cupcakes started. Me being weird with almond slices.
To make the spiders:
- Melt a cup of dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life or your favorite brand) over low heat on the stove, or in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Either way, stir frequently.
- Dip 72 pretzel sticks in the chocolate, shake off the excess and arrange them on cookie sheets lined with waxed paper to dry. Stick them in the fridge to speed it up. I used a big brand’s gluten free pretzels (which happen to be vegan), but there are lots of fantastic choices out there, spelt and organic and all kinds of stuff. Hard to get where I live though. Also, I know 72 sounds like a lot but it goes pretty quick.
- Put the cooled frosting in a large plastic zipper bag and cut one of the corners off. You want to cut off a big enough piece to squirt frosting out of in a thick line.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes however you like. I did mine very simply, just around and around, getting smaller towards the top.
- Press a pair of almond slices on each cake for eyes. Use scissors to snip almonds in half, and place them on for mouths.
- Spoon some of the melted chocolate into another plastic bag, this time snipping a very tiny corner off. Use this chocolate to dot on pupils. You might want to make a few practice dots on waxed paper first. If the chocolate is too runny to control easily, let it firm up for a minute or so.
- When the chocolate pretzels are set, press six into each cake for spider legs. You’ll be pressing them mostly into the pile of frosting on top.
That’s it! A little messing around, but very fun and SO worth it!
This is old-school baking, combined with some added steps necessary to use healthy, vegan, gluten free ingredients. It seems like a lot, but it comes together quicker than it looks. And really and truly, the cakes are so yummy it’s worth the effort. Let’s get our bake on!
I'm in love with these super cute Halloween Spider Cupcakes! Rich chocolate cakes, thick fudge frosting, adorable little faces - and they're vegan, gluten free, oil free and refined sugar free. They're almost too cute to eat!
1 hr, 30 Prep Time
30 minCook Time
2 hrTotal Time
- Fudge Frosting:
- 3 c Medool dates, pitted
- 2 c water
- 2 heaping Tbs instant coffee
- pinch salt
- 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 c baking cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 Tbs flax meal
- 6 Tbs water
- 1 3/4 c quick or regular oats (use certified gluten free if needed)
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c baking cocoa
- 1/2 c prunes + 1 Tbs water (or 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce)
- 1/2 c almond milk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 c water
- 1 c coconut palm sugar
- 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Spider decorations:
- 72 pretzel sticks (most are vegan, gf are easy to find, spelt and organic are available)
- about 3/4 - 1 c dark chocolate chips (you won't use it all)
- a good 1/2 c almond slices (so you have plenty to choose from)
- cookie sheets, waxed paper, two sturdy plastic storage bags (one large and one small), cupcake wrappers
- Combine the dates, 2 c water and instant coffee in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil about 5 minutes.
- Add 1/3 c chocolate chips to a food processor. Pour in the hot dates. Add the cocoa, extract and salt.
- Process until very smooth, about 5 mins. Scrape and stir once or twice.
- Transfer the hot frosting to a bowl. Set it aside to cool. Once it's warm, put it in the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 375. Line a 12 cupcake tin with wrappers.
- Stir the flax meal and 6 Tbs water together in a cup. Set it in the fridge to gel.
- Combine the oats, soda, salt and 1/2 c cocoa in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles flour, 1-2 mins. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Combine the prunes and 1 Tbs water in the food processor and puree until smooth. *see recipe notes
- Stir the almond milk and vinegar together in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 c water and set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the prune puree (or applesauce), palm sugar and 1/2 c applesauce.
- Beat in the flax gel and vanilla.
- Beat in the flour mixture and milk mixture a little at a time, alternating.
- Fill the cupcake tins and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the center cakes comes out clean.
- Once the frosting is completely cool, assemble the cakes as described above.
The prune puree is acting as an oil substitute. It works great and if anything, slightly enhances the chocolate flavor. If you’d rather use unsweetened applesauce instead it should work, but I haven’t tested it in this recipe.
The flax and water mixture is acting as an egg substitute. Other egg substitutes (or real eggs) may work, but I haven’t tested it.
White or brown sugar could be used in place of the coconut palm sugar, but I haven’t tested it.
Store the cakes in an airtight container in the fridge. They keep about a week. I actually restrained myself from eating one to test this!
The frosting is soft, but holds its shape. Keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I don’t recommend letting them sit out at room temperature for more than an hour.
Here’s a question. Halloween – do you love cute, or scary? Or a little of both? Also, what was your favorite costume as a kid? Mine was 5th grade. Punk girl. Spray-painted faux hawk, bright purple tights, over-sized sweat shirt and a pair of gold sparkly platforms, courtesy of mom. That’s an interesting interpretation of punk, eh? Plus, total foreshadowing.
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