Halloween Treat: Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms

Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Dirty cupcakes? With worms? Ewwwwww. Don’t worry. You don’t have to go out to the garden and start digging up the compost and pulling out the earthworms. At least, not for these chocolaty gems.

Moist Devil’s food cupcakes are spread with a thick layer of gooey dark chocolate frosting and then topped with dark chocolate wafer crumbs (the “dirt”), into which nestles a sweet-tart gummy worm. Sound a little better now?

These make great Halloween treats for a party or to pass out to your favorite neighbors. They are also fun just about any time of year for kiddo birthday parties, if you really want to gross ‘em out.

You can make the cupcakes themselves in advance, just store them, once cooled, in a large zippered plastic bag. Keep them at room temp if you are making them only one day in advance, and throw them in the freezer if you are making them up to 4 weeks in advance (just thaw them completely at room temperature the night before the party.) Frost and decorate them the day of the party.

Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Devil’s Food Chocolate “Dirt” Cupcakes with Gummy Worms

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

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Ingredients:

    Devil’s Food Cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    Frosting
  • 1/2 lb unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    Decorations
  • 1/2 box (4.5 oz) chocolate wafer cookies
  • 24 gummy worms
    Instructions:
  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk. In another bowl, sift together the flour, and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the final egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with the cocoa-buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk. In another bowl, sift together the flour, and baking soda.  Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk. In another bowl, sift together the flour, and baking soda.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the final egg. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the final egg.
    Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with the cocoa-buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with the cocoa-buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.
  4. Divide the batter among the lined cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Divide the batter among the lined cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Divide the batter among the lined cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
    Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
    Let cool 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Let cool 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
    The finished cupcakes. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    The finished cupcakes.
  6. To make the frosting, place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over (not touching) barely simmering water, and warm, stirring often, until melted. Remove from over the water and let cool to room temperature. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. (The frosting will keep for up to 3 days.)
  7. To make the frosting, place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over (not touching) barely simmering water, and warm, stirring often, until melted. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    To make the frosting, place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over (not touching) barely simmering water, and warm, stirring often, until melted.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated, then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  8. Put the chocolate wafers in a food processor and process into crumbs. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Frost the cupcakes with the frosting, then dip the tops into the bowl of crumbs so the crumbs coat the frosting completely. Arrange worms on top of each cupcake and serve.
  9. Frost the cupcakes with the frosting. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Frost the cupcakes with the frosting.
    Dip the tops into the bowl of crumbs so the crumbs coat the frosting completely. Arrange worms on top of each cupcake and serve. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Dip the tops into the bowl of crumbs so the crumbs coat the frosting completely. Arrange worms on top of each cupcake and serve.

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