Makes a dozen cupcakes
No cake decorating skills needed for these cupcakes. We took a tip from the baking queen—Martha Stewart—and used oreo cookies and M&M candies for the owl eyeballs and beak. Use whatever cupcake recipe you wish, but with our rich, fudge-like frosting, we opted for a classic moist vanilla cupcake. This recipe is from America’s favorite cupcake bakery, Sprinkles, and The Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson. It’s our favorite!
For the Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 egg, plus 2 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
For the Fudge Frosting:
1 ¼ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2-4 Tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Owl Eyes & Beak:
1 box Oreo sandwich cookies
24 brown M&Ms
12 yellow or orange M&Ms
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners; set aside. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a small bowl whisk the milk and vanilla; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add eggs and egg whites gradually and beat until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add in half of the flour, then the milk mixture, and then the remaining flour mixture, beating after each addition until just blended. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake cups and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch, 18-19 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely on a rack before frosting and decorating.
While the cupcakes bake, open each Oreo cookie in half by gently twisting and set aside the halves with frosting on them. Place one brown M&M on each frosted Oreo half.
Make the frosting as soon as you’re ready to frost as it will harden quickly. In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk in the butter, vanilla and 2 Tablespoons milk, and stir until smooth and free of lumps. Add in the remaining milk if frosting is too thick. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer on each cupcake. Place two Oreo eyeballs on each cupcake and then a yellow or orange M&M just below the eyes. Using your offset spatula again, drag a little chocolate frosting up and off the top of the owl cupcake to give him ears.