Groundhog Day Cupcakes
Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 18 to 20 minutes
Assembly time: 45 minutes
24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2 inch size)
- 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain German chocolate cake mix
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 containers (1.75 ounces each, 1 cup total) chocolate sprinkles
- 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 to 4 teaspoons milk
- 48 miniature chocolate chips
- 24 brown M&M’s
- Sliced almonds
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
- Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.
- Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, life the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.
- Meanwhile, prepare both frostings, starting with the pale chocolate: Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons milk, and vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems too stiff.
- Place the chocolate sprinkles in a small bowl and set aside.
- Prepare the frosting used to make the head: Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and 3 teaspoons milk. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and as stiff as peanut butter, 1 minute more. If the frosting is too stiff, add another teaspoon of milk. Set aside.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of the pale chocolate frosting on each cupcake and spread it out smoothly with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Immediately dip the cupcake tops in the sprinkles to coat.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #12 tip (5/16 inch wide) with two thirds of the frosting for the head. To create the head, point the pastry bag tip toward one edge of the cupcake top and squeeze the frosting from the bag in a small spiral about 1 inch wide and 1/2 inch deep. For the ears, pipe 1 small dot of frosting on both sides of the top of the spiral. For the face, place an M&M in the center of the spiral for the nose and 2 mini chocolate chips slightly above it for the eyes. Tuck 2 trimmed almond slices below the nose for the groundhog’s teeth. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, adding more frosting to the pastry bag as needed. Place these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are ready to serve.
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