Who says Halloween treats need to be scary? These fondant floating ghost cupcakes are boo-tiful. Some say they’re too cute to eat, but with a chocolate cupcake base and coffee-flavored buttercream, they taste as good as they look.
While I love some good old gore when it comes to Halloween treats like my eyeball cocoa bombs or my vampire milkshake it is refreshing to bake something that’s spooky yet so sweet. These fondant floating ghost cupcakes are sure to brighten your Halloween party buffet table or cause a shriek of delight in your kid’s lunchbox this spooky season.
While I promise a straightforward recipe, the flavors will be anything but basic in these spooky cupcakes. With cocoa laced cupcakes and coffee buttercream, they are both a treat for the tastebuds and the eyes. The floating illusion may look like witchcraft but a peek under their skirts reveal a mere marshmallow. Simple but SO effective. There isn't that much coffee in the frosting to give the kids an extra burst of energy, however you could always switch it out for a traditional buttercream like I used on these Vampire Cupcakes or Witch Hat Cupcakes.
As an added bonus, you don’t need to make the fondant icing, I’ve stuck to store bought from the craft store. Heck, you don’t even need to bake the cupcakes and just use chocolate cake mix if you’re short on time. That’s one of the many joys with these floating ghost cupcakes you can skip corners without skipping on taste. You can also get the little ones involved so it’s a Halloween craft and treat in one!
WHY WE LOVE THIS FONDANT FLOATING GHOST CUPCAKES RECIPE
- Minimum effort, maximum impact – Yes these guys look impressive, but that doesn’t mean they need to be complicated. It takes literally minutes to pipe on frosting, chuck on a marshmallow and drape over your fondant. Two dots for eyes and you’re done!
- Easily customizable – Halloween is all about getting creative, so while I think the simplicity of these cupcakes adds to their appeal, who am I to stop your imagination from going wild! Feel free to jazz them up with colorful frosting, candy eyes or sprinkles to make spooktacular Halloween cupcakes!
- Save time with store bought – To keep the fondant fuss free, I’ve stuck with store bought. You can also use store bought cupcakes or a boxed cupcake mix.
- The perfect trick AND treat – I often find gimmicky cakes lack flavor because all the attention goes into décor instead of getting the basics right. Thankfully, the base of these cupcakes is just as impressive as the fondant ghosts. Using cocoa powder, vanilla extract and coffee, it’s a heavenly combination. They will be a big hit in flavor and decor!
FONDANT GHOST CUPCAKES INGREDIENTS/SHOPPING LIST
- All-Purpose Flour
- Cocoa Powder
- Baking Powder
- Whole Milk Or Buttermilk
- Vegetable Oil
- Granulated Sugar
- Large Eggs
- Vanilla Extract
- Hot Water
- Espresso Or Instant Coffee Powder
- Unsalted Butter
- Powdered Sugar
- Warm water
- Instant coffee / Espresso
FONDANT SPOOKY GHOSTS:
- White Fondant- also known as candy clay
- Marshmallows regular sized
- Edible black gel food color pen
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Switch to store bought – Short on time? Grab a box of cupcakes or ready made mix because let’s face it these cupcakes are all about the cute ghost.
- Move over marshmallows – Not a marshmallow fan? Use lollipops instead. They are the ideal shape for a ghost head and the lollipop stick will poke perfectly into your cupcake ready to drape over the fondant cloak. Make sure to warn guests beforehand that it’s lollipops inside so you avoid any dental injuries from an excited bite!
- Cupcake Base – I’ve kept the base simple with a little cocoa and vanilla extract for added oomph but you can use any of your favorite cupcake recipes as the base. Looking for a little inspiration? I’ve SO many recipes you’ll love, from beer cupcakes to Blackberry and lime, pineapple curd to snickerdoodle pumpkin cupcake. Enjoy experimenting!
- Get Creative with Color - I used cocoa powder in the cupcake and coffee in the buttercream as I feel these colors help the white ghosts pop more. However, you could opt for black buttercream and orange fondant for true Halloween vibes, or a daring green buttercream.
- Frosting – The buttercream frosting recipe is purposely thick to keep the ghosts attached however you could also try substituting with a cream cheese frosting or even a marshmallow frosting. As long as it’s thick enough to hold your floating ghost.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Baking tray
- Cupcake liners
- Large bowl
- Ice cream scoop
- Wire rack
- Hand mixer/stand mixer
- Piping bag with large open star tip nozzle
- Cookie or pastry cutter
- Rolling Pin
HOW TO MAKE THIS FONDANT FLOATING GHOST CUPCAKES RECIPE
These little ghostly cakes will be a cute addition to your Halloween party! The kids will love them!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line your baking tray with cupcake liners.
2. To make the chocolate cupcakes, in a large bowl, add your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar. Stir until fully combined.
3. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry: oil, milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Mix well.
4. Lastly, add the hot coffee in intervals, mixing in between until you get a smooth consistency.
5. Scoop out the batter using an ice cream scoop, and fill your liners ¾ of the way full. PRO TIP: Do not be tempted to fill the liners to the top, the cupcakes need a little room to rise.
6. Bake for 22-25 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the baking tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For Frosting and Assembling:
1. In a bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter until it's light and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar in batches along with the coffee. Beat until you get a smooth and fluffy consistency. This usually takes around 5-6 minutes.
2. Spoon your frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip nozzle. Frost the first cupcake, creating a swirl of icing.
3. Carefully place one whole marshmallow on top of the frosting in the center of each cupcake.
4. Dust your working area with some cornstarch and knead your fondant until soft. PRO TIP: Don’t skip the cornstarch as this will help to prevent your fondant from sticking to the surface.
5. Roll out the fondant to about ¼ inch thickness on a flat surface. Then cut out a 4 inch round fondant circle using a cookie or pastry cutter so that it can cover the marshmallow. PRO TIP: You could also use a glass or mug or biscuit cutter instead of a cookie cutter.
6. Stretch the fondant with your hands, if needed before gently placing it on top of the marshmallow. Make pleats by pinching your fingers to shape them like a ghost sheet or ghost shape. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
7. Use an edible black marker pen or black icing to draw eyes and a mouth. Alternatively, you could dip the back of a toothpick in black gel food color and dot on these details.
8. Serve and enjoy!
GHOSTLY CUPCAKES TIPS AND TRICKS
- Ghost size – If your ghosts are looking a little long and have lost the “floating” illusion, trim their ghost body skirts with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife.
- Fondant scraps – Remaining fondant scraps can be re-rolled so feel free to use the leftovers to make funny little hats/hair/arms for your ghosts or use on another Halloween treat.
- Ghost faces –If you’re struggling to keep neat using the pen, try a toothpick, black gel food coloring dotted on directly, or try candy eyes or black royal icing.
- Keep it cool – When handling the fondant try and keep your hands cool as well as the kitchen. Heat will make your fondant droop.
- Oil – Oil is essential for moist cupcakes but make sure to use flavorless oils such as canola oil for best results.
- Piping the frosting – To keep the frosting neat, I’d recommend using a star tip nozzle in either size 2A, 1M, 6B or 2D. One or two swirls of frosting will suffice. If you pile it too high you will need to make your fondant circles larger so the ghosts don’t look super short.
- These Halloween ghost cupcakes stay fresh for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (without the fondant ghosts). However, ideally, serve immediately. If you are planning on storing them, it may be best to store the ghost toppers and cupcakes separately, then assemble when you’re ready to serve.
- You can also store the extra frosting in the fridge for 4-5 days; allow it to come to room temperature before using it again
FLOATING GHOST CUPCAKES FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you make these fondant floating ghost cupcakes ahead?
Ideally, serve these ghost cupcakes as soon as you have finished assembling or at the earliest 3 hours before. Store them in a cool, dry place but avoid the refrigerator as this can dry out your fondant causing it to crack.
By all means, create the cupcakes and frosting ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator but wait until the last minute to roll and cut your fondant. As well as the refrigerator causing them to crack, the warm environment of your kitchen can cause them to droop, so timing is key!
How can you tell when the cupcakes are fully baked?
Although I recommend 22-25 minutes baking time, this can vary a little. My quickest tip for checking if your cupcakes are done is to insert a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean with no crumbs or residue your cupcakes are ready to be removed from the oven. If instead, the toothpick has batter on it, return the cupcakes to the oven for a little longer.
How can you avoid the fondant tearing?
Fondant can be quite delicate to handle, so there are a few tips to keep in mind. The thinner you roll it the more fragile it will be, so draping over your marshmallows may prove tricky as you’ll risk it tearing. I recommend keeping the fondant to ¼ inch thickness for this reason.
Don’t forget to also dust your work surface and rolling pin in cornstarch to avoid it sticking. You may also want to lightly dust your hands too before kneading or transferring to your marshmallow. If cracks or tears occur, avoid using water to repair the fondant as this will actually cause the sugar to break down. Instead, gather it in a ball and reroll.
OTHER HALLOWEEN RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- Halloween Dipped Mint Oreos
- No Bake Halloween Treats 4 Ways
- Red Velvet Halloween Cake
- Halloween Macarons
- 1 ½ cups All-purpose flour
- ½ cups Cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon Baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk buttermilk will also work
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon hot water
- 2 tablespoon espresso or instant coffee powder
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter softened
- 2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
- T tablespoon warm water
- 2 tablespoons Instant coffee / Espresso
- 1 pound White Fondant
- 12 Marshmallows regular sized
- Edible black gel food color pen
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line your baking tray with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar and stir it well.
Next, add oil, milk, vanilla extract, and egg to the flour directly and mix well.
Lastly, add the hot coffee in intervals and keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency.
Scoop out the batter using an ice cream scoop, and fill your liners ¾ of the way full.
Bake for 22-25 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the baking tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter until it's light and creamy. Add powdered sugar (in batches) along with the coffee dissolved in tablespoon of warm water and beat until you get a smooth and fluffy consistency (5-6 min).
Frost your cupcake with the frosting; creating a tower of icing (I am using a large open star tip nozzle for frosting and for this).
Carefully place one whole marshmallow on top of the frosting in the center.
Dust your working area with some cornstarch and knead your fondant until soft. Roll out fondant to about ¼ inch thickness and cut out 4 inch round circles from it using a cookie or pastry cutter so that it can cover the marshmallow.
Stretch the fondant with your hands, if needed, gently place it on top of the marshmallow and make pleats to shape it like a ghost sheet. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
Dip the back of a toothpick in black gel food color and draw eyes and a mouth (you can also use a black edible marker).
Serve immediately and enjoy! Happy Halloween!!
HALLOWEEN GHOST CUPCAKES stay fresh for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also store the extra frosting in the fridge for 4-5 days; allow it to come to room temperature before using it again. (Don’t decorate with ghost toppers if you’re planning on storing these cupcakes).
Use flavorless oils such as canola oil in cupcakes for the best results.
You can make the cupcakes or use store-bought ones or you can even use a mix.
You can re-roll the fondant scraps and use them.
You can add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the frosting for an added flavor.