There are so many things that I absolutely hate about halloween: the seeking out of fear and terror, zombies and blood and guts, and the promotion of things I just find evil and creepy. However, I do love the opportunity to bring more festivity into our home, dressing my children up as adorable animals, pumpkins and cute bats, and seeing Saurus’ face light up with excitement about all of the above. I have such fun memories of trick or treating as a child and I want to make sure my kids have the same. My mom always went to extraordinary lengths to create fun, and impractical, costumes. (She once made me an alligator costume that was so creative but probably the most awkward thing I’ve ever worn and I couldn’t see out of it so tripped over curbs and spilled my candy all night long.) I’m not that kind of mom. I’m the kind of mom who dictates costumes based on what’s available on Amazon Prime.
(Don’t judge the front porch pictures too harshly…I had just finished watering the flowers and Saurus had just finished coloring on the front door with sidewalk chalk.)
I did order him several, though, so he’d have options (and some to play in on a random Tuesday) and he wears a different one every day and is very proud and particular about them.
He was dressed as a piñata and just couldn’t get the head on straight:
Saurus: Great. Just great. Now I look weird.
Me: What’s wrong?
Saurus: The head is wrong. I look weird.
Me: You look great to me but let me get this straight, you look weird because the head is crooked, not because you’re dressed as a piñata on a random Tuesday?
Ah, toddler fearlessness. It’s just the best. All that is to say, this year I made an extra effort to really jump into the fun, happy side of the holiday: extra decor, trying on all the costumes, carving pumpkins, and baking treats. And it has been so fun for all of us. It’s created so many memories that I will cherish forever and has brought such light and joy and fun into our home in a season that can be filled with so much darkness.
We’ve had happy spooky decorations and happy spooky cupcakes and a great kick-off to fall (you can see more of our decor on Instagram). One of our favorite treats were these black velvet cupcakes. Which is pretty much just red velvet with a twist: extra coffee and dark chocolate and black food coloring to give them the blacker-than-night-spooky-look.
- 3/4 C butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 C pure cane sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 t black gel food dye
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 C buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 1/2 C flour, sifted
- 1/3 C dutch process cocoa
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 C dark chocolate chunks
- 3/4 C salted butter, room temperature
- 3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp black gel food dye
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 C powdered sugar
- 1/4 C dutch process cocoa
- 3-4 T heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and gel dye.
- Beat in eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined.
- Alternate adding buttermilk with sifting in the remaining dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.
- Spoon into prepared cupcake pans and bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chunks in microwave (30 seconds at a time until smooth) and set aside.
- Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in food dye and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
- Sift in powdered sugar and cocoa and beat again until fluffy (3-4 minutes).
- Gradually add in the melted chocolate and beat until fully incorporated.
- Add in heavy cream as needed until desired consistency is reached.
- Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy!