Virginia Feature: Halloween Elmo Cupcakes
When my daughter was nine months old, I went back to work. As I was making the transition from full time mom to part-time working mom, my husband and I searched high and low for dolls to comfort her when we were away. Like so many parents making that transition, we tried stuffed giraffes, bear loveys, blankets, and monogrammed pillows. Nothing seemed to ease her separation anxiety.
Perhaps it was Elmo’s bright red hue, or his wide-eyed smile. Among all of the other toys, my daughter connected to him. After many failed attempts with other cuddly dolls, Elmo prevailed. He gave her comfort, and for that, we will always be grateful to him.
A few months later, I was at my friend Pam’s birthday party for her one year-old son. She had made Elmo themed cupcakes for the party, and they were a huge hit with the kids. This gave me the idea to try them for Halloween to go along with the Elmo costume we had found for my daughter. The cupcakes were as popular with the adults as they were the kids. Today, my daughter loves to make and decorate the Elmo cupcakes. She separates the orange peanut MnMs from the colored ones and she loves to dot Elmo’s marshmallow eyes with chocolate.
Perfect for Halloween or Birthdays, these cheerful cupcakes bring the comfort of a beloved character to your child’s party. And, they are as delicious as they are cute. Hope you enjoy!
Recipe Adapted From: Anne Burrell’s Sour Cream Vanilla Cupcake
- 2 Cups - All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons - Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon - Salt
- 1.5 Sticks Grass-fed butter, Unsalted
- 1.5 Cups - Granulated Sugar
- 3 Eggs (free range organic)
- 1 Teaspoon - Vanilla Extract
- The Seeds of One Vanilla Bean
- 1/2 Cup - 2% Grass-fed Milk
- 3/4 Cup - Sour Cream (all natural) (Whole greek yogurt works great as a substitute)
- VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 4.5 Cups - 10-X pure cane powdered sugar (this will make frosting perfectly creamy with no lumps)
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup/ 16 tablespoons) grass-fed butter, unsalted and at room temperature
- 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla paste- this makes the frosting taste like vanilla ice cream. If you do not have vanilla paste, you can use equal parts vanilla extract instead
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In one bowl whisk flour, baking powder, and salt
- In a separate bowl, add the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla bean. With the back of a spoon, mash the vanilla bean seeds around the sides of the bowl to break up the beans and distribute throughout the sugar. Add butter to sugar and vanilla bean mixture, and cream together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy
- To the butter and vanilla sugar mixture, add eggs, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract
- Add in flour mixture, then stir until incorporated
- Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners, then fill each cup with one large cookie scoop of batter, a little over three quarters full
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating tins half way through to make sure they bake evenly. Once a toothpick comes out clean, they are done
- Remove from oven, place on wire rack, and allow to cool completely before decorating
- With a hand mixer, blend room temperature butter. Slowly add in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla paste. Add in milk one tablespoon at a time until the frosting reaches the perfect consistency. Whip on high. Add in a few drops of red food coloring, and whip until fluffy. With a small spatula or spoon, add frosting into piping bag with small round tip
- Elmo’s eyes: 1 bag of marshmallows, 2 tablespoons melted chocolate, toothpick
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper (this makes for easy clean up with sticky marshmallows). With a sharp knife, slice 8 marshmallows in thirds and place in pairs on the parchment paper. In a separate heat-proof dish, melt chocolate in the microwave. Heat and stir in 30 second increments so that the chocolate does not burn. Dip toothpick in melted chocolate, and dot marshmallows to create Elmo’s pupils. Let dry 15 minutes or while cupcakes are cooling
- Elmo’s nose: Orange peanut MnMs, large end at the bottom. My toddler loved separating the orange MnMs from the other colors in the bag
- Elmo’s mouth: One side of an oreo cookie, cut in half
- Elmo’s fir: A frosting piping bag, a piping tip with a small round opening. Red food coloring, butter cream frosting
- Once cupcakes are completely cool, fill a piping bag with red frosting. Dot a little bit of frosting on the back of a halved Oreo, and stick on bare cupcake in place of Elmo’s mouth. Around Elmo’s mouth, pipe little lines of frosting onto the cupcake to give the illusion of Elmo’s fur. Once the fur is done, add the nose, large side touching the top of Elmo’s mouth. Finally, stick two marshmallow rounds side by side and place on the very top of the cupcake, touching the small end of Elmo’s nose. Voilà! Homemade Elmo cupcakes to celebrate Halloween!
Leigh is a Middle School Teacher of French and a Mom to a busy four year old. She loves to entertain family and friends, and prepare daily dishes for her husband and daughter. Leigh’s meals are often influenced by her mom’s love of cooking. Leigh also creates recipes based on her experiences of living and working in the south of France. She often uses food to provide authentic experiences for her students as well. On Fridays, it’s not uncommon to see her students making crèpes and sampling French “fromage,” as part of their lesson. Always inspired by fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, Leigh’s dishes are simple, tasty, and always made with her family in mind. Her daughter, now three, is an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. A lover of mealtime with family and warm summer nights, Leigh is excited to share some of her favorite recipes. Follow Leigh on her Instagram account @arecipeforeveryseason