Halloween is the one holiday when our imaginations can run wild. But as with costume parties, it can also be the holiday when we feel the most pressure to deliver in the kitchen. Let's face it: Not all of us were bitten by a creative bug.
You can spend hours scanning the depths of Pinterest for the most accessible Halloween cake — and that’s one black hole in which you don’t want to get lost. So save yourself the trouble and start prepping pastry chef Meghan McGarry’s Spooky Spider Halloween Cake now.
“For this cake, my mission was to develop something accessible to home bakers of all skill levels and relatable to food lovers of all ages,” the owner of Buttercream Blondie tells Salon.
For Halloween, McGarry gravitates toward the wonky, favoring Halloween cakes full of color that play on childhood nostalgia. This Halloween, the dessert mixologist will have your guests coming for the chocolate cake, and staying for the boos.
In fact, you get booze two ways. Hot coffee and espresso powder enhance the chocolate flavor of the sponge, which are padded by a cookies-and-cream filling made from a base of whipped cream. But the secret ingredient is none other than Baileys Irish Cream, which is not only in the batter of the cake but also in the filling and the frosting, too.
“The inside of this Halloween party waiting to get started is Baileys cookies-and-cream cake,” McGarry, who is known for her boozy desserts, says. “Let’s face it: I’ll always be here for the boos.”
At first glance, the spooky spiders may look intimidating, but all you need to assemble them are four ingredients: a batch of Buttercream Blondie’s world-famous buttercream, candy eyes, Oreo Minis and as many sprinkles as your heart desires.
And the list of instructions is only as long as the ingredients. Here is how the pastry chef forms those eye-catching little creatures:
1. Break apart the Oreo Minis. (You will use the side of the cookie without cream.)
2. Press the side of the Oreo without cream gently to the side of the cake until it adheres.
3. Pipe four legs on each side and a tether to to the top of the spider.
4. Use a small amount of melted chocolate to attach the candy eyes to the spider.
Honestly, that's it — except for one valuable professional word of advice. Have as much fun as humanly possible in the kitchen.
“I used purple and orange for my spider legs, but you can use whatever palette you prefer. Or consider only adding one eye on some of the spiders if you want to add a little quirk,” McGarry says. “This is dessert. It’s not serious, and it should always be fun, playful and delicious."
Recipe: Spooky Spider Cake
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. espresso powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup Irish cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of 3 (8") cake pans with parchment rounds and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl sift together cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip eggs and vegetable oil on medium speed for about 3 minutes until combined.
- Slowly add in sugar, continuing to mix on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes until mixture gets pale in color.
- Reduce speed to low and mix in milk, Irish cream and vanilla extract.
- Add in dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Pour in coffee and stir to combine.