Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling

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These Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling are a cute dessert idea to celebrate All Hallows Eve!  This is an easy small batch recipe for tender chocolate cupcakes that are filled with a caramel sauce, and topped with a fluffy marshmallow meringue frosting.  Dress up the cupcakes with your favorite ghostly topper or sprinkles for a delightfully bewitching dessert!

Chocolate ghost cupcake for Halloween with caramel filling

Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling

The idea for these Halloween cupcakes came from a desire (or craving), to make make my chocolate cupcakes again – the ever popular Black Forest Cupcakes recipe.  Chocolate seems like a quintessential flavor for Halloween – just check out the kids’ trick-or-treat bags at the end of the night.  And what goes awesome with chocolate?  How about a little caramel and marshmallow. 

Boom.  The Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling are born.  This small batch chocolate cupcake recipe for Halloween takes everything you love about a good cupcake:

  • Moist Chocolate Cake – Oil, buttermilk, and coffee keep these chocolate cupcakes moist.
  • Easy Caramel Filling – It may be the easiest caramel filling because it is store-bought!  But you can always make your own and use the Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce recipe on the blog.
  • Fluffy Marshmallow Meringue Frosting – Another popular recipe on the blog is featured in these cupcakes – the homemade Marshmallow Meringue – and it tastes just like marshmallow!
  • Easily Decorated For Any Holiday! – You can add food coloring to make the caramel filling spooky, or adorn the cupcakes with cute (or scary!) toppers to celebrate Halloween.

What You Need To Make Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling

Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – I recommend Dutch Process cocoa powder because I find it less acidic.  
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda – We use both to make the cupcakes rise and balance out the acidity in the buttermilk.
  • Salt
  • Neutral Oil – I use canola oil because I find it to not leave a flavor in baked goods.  However, any neutral oil like vegetable, coconut, or grapeseed oil will work.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Brown Sugar – Light or brown sugar will work, and I use whatever I have on hand!
  • Buttermilk – The buttermilk tenderizes the cupcakes (actually the flour), and makes the cupcakes moist.
  • Brewed Coffee – Coffee compliments and amps up the cocoa flavor, in addition to keeping the cupcakes moist.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Egg White – For the marshmallow meringue.
  • Light Corn Syrup – Corn syrup makes the marshmallow frosting  glossy.
  • Cream of Tartar – Cream of tartar helps stabilize the egg white so they whip up nice and fluffy.
  • Caramel Sauce – We are keeping it easy and using store-bought caramel sauce!  A couple drops of food coloring make it sweet and spooky!

Baking Equipment

  • Muffin/Cupcake Pan
  • Cupcake Liners – Extra points if you use festive Halloween liners!
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Saucepan – To make the marshmallow meringue.
Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Spooky Filling

Tips For Making Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling

Chocolate Cupcake Baking Tips

  • Use neutral oil – I prefer canola oil.  Even with vegetable oil, I found it left a bit of a ‘taste’.  We use oil because it makes the cupcakes tender and moist.
  • Dutch process cocoa powder is my go-to – I use Dutch process cocoa in my chocolate cakes, cupcakes, and cookies because it is smooth and has a rich chocolate flavor.  Natural cocoa can come off as a little too acidic for me.
  • Hot coffee – The coffee needs to be hot.  This helps ‘bloom’ the cocoa powder.  I heat mine in the microwave until it boils.
  • Make your own buttermilk – If you don’t want to buy buttermilk to only use it once, you can make your own.
    • Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup.  Fill the measuring cup with milk to the 1/3 cup mark.  Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to allow the milk to ‘curdle’.  I recommend whole or 2% milk.

Marshmallow Frosting Tips

  • Make sure the bowl and beaters are clean – The smallest bit of oil, residue, or even egg yolk and your egg white to not whip up to fluffy peaks.  I recommend cleaning the bowl and beaters with a paper towel and a small splash of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Separate the egg when it is cold – The yolk and white separate much easier and ‘cleaner’ when the egg is cold.
  • Use a thermometer – I highly recommending investing in a small digital thermometer – especially if you like to make meringues or caramel.
  • Use a hand held mixer – There is just not enough ingredient volume to make the stand mixer work.  Been there.

Caramel Filling Tips

  • Keep it easy and use store-bought – This chocolate cupcake recipe is easy and the filling should be too.  I’m not ashamed to say I reach for store-bought caramel sauce on a regular basis!

Want to make homemade caramel sauce for the filling?  Try the Maple Syrup Caramel recipe on the blog and make your own!  

  • Easy on the food coloring – A little goes a long way.  Start with one drop of food coloring and add more if you want a super intense color.  Too much, and it will just turn dark.

Halloween Theme Toppers and Toppings

I think it is safe to say you can find Halloween baking decorations at any grocery these days.  So, have fun.  And get the kids involved.  We aren’t submitting these cupcakes to any professional baking competition (at least I’m not), so get creative!

  • I found all of my decorations at Target.
Cute Halloween ghost chocolate cupcake

small batch chocolate cupcakes FAq’s

Can this recipe be doubled?

I have not tested a larger batch, but I think it would turn out fine. Let me know if you try a larger batch!

I don’t have Dutch process cocoa. Can I substitute natural cocoa powder instead?

Using natural cocoa powder should be fine for this recipe. There is baking soda in the recipe which balances the acidity of the natural cocoa powder.

Should I use light or dark brown sugar?

Either will make a delicious cupcake. Dark brown sugar has a bit more moisture in it, which may make the cupcakes extra moist. I have tested both, and I don’t have a preference one way or the other.

Can I use hot water instead of brewed coffee?

Yes, hot water will work fine. Keep in mind the flavor of the coffee is what compliments the cocoa and makes it more chocolate pronounced.

I don’t want to but a carton of buttermilk. What else can I use?

Make your own buttermilk! Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill the cup with milk (whole or 2%) up the 1/3 cup mark. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to allow the milk to ‘curdle’.

The egg whites didn’t whip to peaks. What did I do wrong?

A few things could have happened: the bowl/beaters weren’t clean, there was a bit of egg yolk in the egg white, or the sugar didn’t fully dissolve. There really isn’t a way to recover from this and I recommend trying another batch.

Can I color the marshmallow frosting with food coloring?

I don’t see why not! Start with small drops of coloring because a little goes a long way.

How should I store leftovers?

The cupcakes should keep fine covered at room temperature for a few hours. Beyond that, the marshmallow frosting may start to deflate and I would keep the cupcakes covered in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Spooky Filling and Ghostly Frosting

More Halloween Dessert Recipe Ideas

Chocolate cupcake with marshmallow ghost topping
Halloween cupcake ideas for chocolate and marshmallow cupcakes
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4.50 from 2 reviews

Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling

Yield: 5 Cupcakes
These Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Caramel Filling are a cute dessert idea to celebrate All Hallows Eve!  This is an easy small batch recipe for tender chocolate cupcakes that are filled with a caramel sauce, and topped with a fluffy marshmallow meringue frosting.  Dress up the cupcakes with your favorite ghostly topper or sprinkles for a delightfully bewitching dessert!
Prep25 mins
Cook12 mins
Total37 mins

Equipment

  • 1 – Muffin/Cupcake Pan

Ingredients

Caramel Filling

  • 10 teaspoons caramel sauce -
  • red gel food coloring

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons canola oil - any neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar - light or dark
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons medium brew coffee, very hot
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt

Marshmallow Meringue Frosting

  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Caramel Filling

  • Use store bought caramel, or make your own using my Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce recipe. I used about 2 teaspoons of caramel filling per cupcake. You can use more or less based on your preference.
  • Add the caramel topping to a small bowl. Start with one drop of red food coloring, stir, and add another drop if you want a deeper shade of red.

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line 5 wells of a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the oil and both sugars. Whisk until until well combined. Add the buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla, and whisk until fully incorporated.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the wet ingredients. Gently whisk to incorporate until no dry streaks remain.
  • Pour the batter equally into the cupcake liners. Tip – I recommend a cookie scoop to get equal portions of batter – and less mess!
  • Bake for 12 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean (a few small crumbs is ok, and good).
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
  • Scoop out a small amount of cupcake from the middle to make the well for the caramel sauce. You can use a small paring knife, apple corer, or even the wide end of a piping tip. The size of the well is completely your preference and how much caramel you want in the middle of the cupcake.

Marshmallow Frosting

  • Make the frosting while the cupcakes are cooling. This is the same recipe as the Glossy Marshmallow Meringue Frosting.
  • Create a Double Boiler – Simmer about 2-inches of water in a saucepan. In a heat-proof mixing bowl large enough to fit on top of the saucepan – without touching the water – add the egg white, water, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan and attach a thermometer to the side of the bowl (recommended – see notes). Note – Make certain the bowl and beaters are clean. I recommend wiping down the bowl and beaters with a paper towel and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Using one of the whisk attachments as your whisk, constantly whisk the mixture until foamy and white. We want the sugar to dissolve and the temperature of the mixture to reach 160F degrees. This may take up to 4 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, you can test if the sugar has dissolved by carefully rubbing a little of the egg white between your thumb and index finger – if done, you will not feel sugar granules.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat, and add the vanilla extract. Using a hand-held mixer with whisk attachments, beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, and the frosting is pillowy and glossy. This may take about 2 and 1/2 minutes. The frosting is ready to be used immediately.
  • Assemble the Cupcakes – Fill the well in the cupcake with your desired amount of Spooky Caramel Filling, and either pipe or spoon the marshmallow frosting on top of the cupcakes. Enjoy!
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Notes

Caramel Filling
  • Yes – I used store bought for this recipe.  
  • If you want to make homemade caramel sauce, you can try my Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce.
Marshmallow Frosting Notes
  • This is the exact same recipe as my Glossy Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
  • Thermometer – Using a standard candy thermometer for this may not work – given its size (because we are making a small batch!)  As an alternate – this is my go-to thermometer for small batch baking.  
  • Separate the egg white when it is cold – I’ve learned this through practice and professional advice.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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