Super moist and intensely dark chocolate devil’s food cupcakes with a kick of cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne, topped with a red velvet buttercream and darling little devil horns!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween! According to the retail world, however, Halloween started back in August….hey, it’s never too early to prepare for your upcoming Halloween party!
Speaking of Halloween parties, if you’re in need of some inspiration…
What’s more fitting than Devil’s Food Cupcakes dressed up like little devils???
These little guys are sinful in every single way imaginable. Just one bite is all it takes for you to fall under their devilishly delicious spell. I mean, just check out how dark the cake is itself!
I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, which is probably why the “soul” of these little devils is almost black in color. It definitely adds to the Halloween theme of this treat!
In the recipe, you’ll notice that instead of combining the cocoa powder with the rest of the dry ingredients, I stirred it into the hot water. This process is called “blooming” and it really helps to intensify the flavor of the cocoa.
The cupcakes also have an unexpected kick to them, which sneaks up on you after you’ve had a few bites. It’s that subtle heat from the cinnamon, ancho chili powder, and cayenne that adds a whole new unique flavor dimension to these cupcakes. While I tend to be less adventurous when it comes to adding uncommon ingredients to desserts, I’m sooooo glad I made the leap with these cupcakes. The cinnamon and the ancho chili powder compliment the chocolate so well. And that little bit of heat from the cayenne is not overwhelming at all. It’s definitely opened me up to so many more baking possibilities!
Along with the spices, I added a little bit of this Mexican Chocolate Sugar that I received from UncommonGoods.
If you haven’t heard of this company, they’re definitely worth checking out! UncommonGoods is a great sustainable company that’s all about environmental friendliness, offering unique handmade, recycled, and organic products from artists and small manufacturers. Something I found very cool about the company (and something most companies should do as well) is their Better To Give program, which allows the customer to pick a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation from UncommonGoods every time they checkout. They’ve already donated over $1,000,000!
Along with the Mexican Chocolate Sugar, I received a few other neato products that I plan on using at this year’s Halloween party (and several other gatherings), like this elegant ampersand cheese and crackers board which you can find in their anniversary gift collection here.
Speaking of anniversary gifts, they’ve also got a great selection of wedding gifts here, if you’re on the hunt for something much more personal than some boring old blender. And if wedding season is over for you, you might want to check out the gifts in their birthday collection here. My birthday IS coming up…just sayin’ 😉
If you’re wondering how I made the little devil horns, it was rather simple, really. All I did was draw some horns on a notecard, traced about 20 sets of them on a piece of parchment paper, then used a pastry bag fitted with a small tip to fill them in with some melted red candy melts. I also dusted them with some red sugar sprinkles for a little bit of pop!
The ruby red velvet buttercream was absolutely perfect on these cupcakes. Just like traditional red velvet cake, this buttercream has that nice subtle cocoa flavor and such a fun, vibrant hue of red.
As a tip, I would suggest making your frosting a day ahead, if you can. The frosting will turn a deeper shade of red as time passes, which will prevent you from adding too much food coloring and altering the flavor of the frosting. When you’re ready to use it, simply beat it in the mixer until it’s back to a creamy consistency.
These cupcakes stay so unbelievably moist and fluffy for days, and the deep richness of the cocoa powder definitely shines through thanks to the all-important “blooming” step. They’re not overpoweringly sweet which is perfect for the mountain of red velvet frosting swirled on top.
Trust me, these cupcakes are totally worth going over to the dark side.
Spicy Little Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Yields: 18 cupcakes
3/4 cup hot water
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used vanilla)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 Tablespoons milk
5 1/2-6 cups powdered sugar
Red food coloring
2 ounces red candy melts
Red sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F degrees, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a bowl, stir together the water, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until fully dissolved; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices, and both sugars until well combined. Add the oil, yogurt, egg, and cocoa-espresso liquid. Whisk until just combined. Try not to over mix.
Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with few crumbs attached. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, milk, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar and continue mixing. Gradually add more powdered sugar, stirring between each addition, until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Add enough food coloring to turn the frosting a bright shade of red (see note above).
To make the devil horns, draw two little devil horns on a note card. Trace about 20 sets of horns onto a piece of parchment paper. Turn parchment paper over and onto a baking sheet; set aside. Melt candy melts according to package instructions, then pour into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip (or a small zip-loc bag with the tip cut off). Using the traced horns as a guide, pipe the chocolate onto the parchment paper. Immediately dust with sprinkles, if using. Allow devil horns to harden and set in the refrigerator before using.
Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes as desired, then top with two chocolate devil horns. Serve and enjoy!