Category: day of the dead

The Friday Fifteen: Halloween Monster Mash!

They did the mash... they did the MONSTER MASH...

Really, I wasn’t planning on doing more than one Friday Fifteen this month. But the way it worked out, I just had to. There’s so much going on!

So let’s all get down & do the Monster Mash with Frankenstein & his bride…

The Friday Fifteen: Halloween Monster Mash!

  1. Look at these STUNNING Halloween macarons! Such intricate work. Some of the most beautiful decorating I’ve ever seen. And so small.
  2. I haven’t carved my jack-o-lantern yet, it’s a smidgen too early (I usually wait until the 25th or 26th at the earliest). But I’m getting inspired. Maybe I’ll go with something simple like this (via Martha Moments). Or perhaps something spookier… like this (via Miller Creative Designs).
  3. Speaking of spooky: blood spatter cupcakes, anyone? Paging Dexter Morgan. Your Halloween cupcakes have arrived. Ugh. Now I’m sad Dexter is over… but NO I HAVE NOT SEEN THE ENDING YET SO SHUT UP.
  4. If you, like me, have an obsession with all things Day of the Dead, then you’ll have to make these black velvet cupcakes with marigold colored frosting. Seriously. The hand-painted white chocolate sugar skulls aren’t mandatory… but they sure are fun.
  5. I have a recipe for Pan de Muerto as well.
  6. And of course, tres leches coconut cupcakes.
  7. You all know by now that not only is Halloween my favorite holiday, but I love decorating for it. And I love this spider pillow from parismarketplace on Etsy. It’s not too over the top but it still screams Halloween!
  8. But if you’re interested in Halloween decor that’s a bit more… *ahem* straightforward… then how about this coffin couch via VonErickson? Now that definitely screams Halloween. Or, alternative lifestyle choice. Whichever. Either way it’s pretty awesome.
  9. And while we’re talking about Etsy, since I’m currently figuring out & deciding what kind of “wedding” (if any) we’re going to have, this Hallowedding blog piece by Amy Lynn Harvey got me really excited. Now I’m thinking October is a great time of year to get hitched.
  10. For years now, I’ve been wanting to make Martha’s black candy apples. Maybe this will finally be the year!
  11. Sweater pumpkins
  12. American Horror Story: Coven. Dudes. DUDES.
  13. These free printable Halloween cupcake toppers by Johanna Parker Design are insanely awesome! Very retro-looking.
  14. Three words- Black Magic cocktails. I don’t think I need to say more.
  15. My last favorite thing for this week? My chalkboard door…

My chalkboard front door!

This photo is from earlier in the month (obviously). I had some Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint left over from a few projects & last month I decided to paint the back of my front door with it. I had already painted the front of it black with a different regular latex paint (also Rust-Oleum), and I had been planning on painting the back of it black since I painted the rest of the doors off of the hallway black. But once I thought of using the chalkboard paint & looked on Pinterest to see how other people did it (the whole door vs. a framed-out chalkboard), it was over. I’m kinda sorta obsessed with chalkboard paint anyway, but this takes it to a new level! So far, it’s mainly a running to-do list for house stuff. But once that’s done it’ll be whatever we want it to be! There will probably ALWAYS be a quote… I love quotes.

If you’re thinking about doing this, I say DO IT. It’s fun & awesome.

 

Black velvet, sugar skulls & a Sourpuss giveaway!

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED! THE GIVEAWAY IS OVER!

and the winner is…#50!  Kate G!

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*** Congrats Kate! I’m e-mailing you right now. And thanks to everyone else who entered. I hope to do another giveaway soon… ***

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BOY, are you all lucky this week. Cupcakes the other day, cupcakes today. It’s a cupcake-palooza around here… which is appropriate, given my blog name. But I will admit that in general, I haven’t been posting as many cupcakes as I should lately. I’ve been distracted with other goodies & yummies & I’ve kinda been neglecting the cupcakes.

Before I start going off on my tangents, lets get one thing straight right away: this entire post is going to be a big lovefest. It’s ALLLLLL about things I love. You’re going to see me write that over and over and over again, and I do apologize. Both for my repetition, my lack of other suitable words for the circumstances and also for beating you over the head with it. Are you ready?

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I love Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It’s one of my favorite things about this time of year; along with Halloween, spooky things, black cats everywhere, fall leaves, vampires, apples & pumpkins. Just in case you live under a rock:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the Indigenous Pagan cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years.[1] In the pre-Hispanic era, skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess[2] known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern Catrina.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”) and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead”).[3]

-Wikipedia

Basically, it’s about life, despite the name. It’s about celebrating the lives of those we love who have passed on. What a beautiful concept. It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s happy, it’s fun. It bridges that great divide between the dead & the living, and it keeps them in our thoughts through a celebration of their lives as opposed to the sadness of their deaths. I see nothing bad in that, at all. I find it to be a revelation, actually, compared to the stodgy, stuffy, overly melancholy grieving process of my Catholic childhood. I love to celebrate my ancestors & their lives, as opposed to just remembering them at the ends of their lives. In years past, I’ve not only made an altar, but I’ve celebrated by making tres leches cupcakes & Pan de Muerto. I have a hand painted Mexican sugar skull (Jay has one too, kinda like our version of Yin & Yang), and I have sugar skull printed pillows, etc. Suffice it to say I’m big into it, especially the sugar skull iconography.

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So that’s one more thing I love. Sugar Skulls. Any size, shape, colors, theme. I love them all. I want to collect a variety of them, but they’re hard to find here in New York. Hey, are you tired of what I love yet? No? Good, ’cause there’s more. Who’da thunk it that I actually do LIKE so many things?

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‘Cause you wanna know snother thing I love? Sourpuss Clothing. I’ve loved them for four years now, ever since they first contacted me to send me products to review back in 2008. I’m obsessed with their housewares department- don’t get me wrong, I love Crate & Barrel, I love Williams-Sonoma, and I love Pottery Barn too. But sometimes a gal like me, with my skull obsession & my mohawk, yearns for something more… offbeat… for my kitchen decor. And those mainstream stores will usually only carry creepy or “weird” things around Halloween. Well, that’s great, but what if I want a zombie cutting board in June? Or Frankenstein & his bride salt & pepper shakers in February? I go to Sourpuss, that’s what!

But you know, there’s one more thing I love: cupcakes. You knew that already, though. But sugar skulls on cupcakes? FORGET IT. Love it times a million. I’ve made cupcakes with little sugar skulls on them before, but why not repeat something when it’s a good thing? Thanks to Wilton for the awesome skull mold and beautiful food coloring gel that I used in this post. I made the frosting marigold color because marigolds are the traditional flowers of Dia de los Muertos, and are actually known as the flowers of the dead. (side note: they’d be great for Halloween too, with bright orange frosting)

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BLACK VELVET DAY OF THE DEAD CUPCAKES (taken from here)

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of black liquid McCormick food coloring (or possibly less if you’re using Americolor)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Line your cupcake tins with liners and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until thoroughly combined, being sure to scrape down the sides.
  4. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring-cocoa mixture and beat well to combine. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat on medium speed until combined, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add another 1/3 of the flour, beat well, then the other half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides after each addition. Finish with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda, and immediately add to batter. Mix on high speed for just a few seconds until evenly dispersed, and pour right away into lined cupcake pans, about halfway, maybe 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

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They’re beautiful, aren’t they? Deep, dark, black cupcakes. Bright marigold colored buttercream and a pretty little white chocolate handpainted skull. Delicious & pretty to look at, a great combination. And the inspiration for them ain’t too shabby either, right? Look at the pattern:

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Would you like your own set? I bet you would.

In this giveaway, one lucky winner will get the ADORABLE Skulls in Love apron. I’m sorry I couldn’t get a decent photo of it for you, but it’s hard taking self-portraits that are full-on body shots; even with my awesome camera & tripod. Either way, the apron is super adorable & the winner will love it. But it’s not just that, oh no. They’ll also get a matching kitchen set (oven mitt & pot holder) & tea towel as well as a skull bowl and a matching bank too. Perhaps for saving up to buy a KitchenAid mixer? Or to upgrade your old hand mixer? Use it to hold your latte fund? Or maybe the “bad language tax” collection for your kids? Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you use it for. It’s cute, that’s the point. And it all matches & coordinates with the bowl. A little girl skull bowl with a bow, and a boy skull bank with a top hat. I die (no pun intended) of the cuteness. I used the bowl to house my handmade tissue paper marigolds (like I said, they’re the traditional flower of Dia de los Muertos & it’s also tradition to make them out of paper), but you can use it for anything. Flowers, candy, a planter. So did you get all that? ONE winner gets an apron, tea towel, kitchen set, bowl and bank. Jackpot!

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ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENTER IS COMMENT. Leave a comment here telling me why you love the Day of the Dead, too. What does it mean to you? Why can you relate to it? I’ll choose a winner at random via random.org on October 25th at midnight, EST. I’m doing this for ONE week exactly so that the winner has a better chance of getting their prize in time for Dia de los Muertos. As far as the winner goes: commenting on the Sourpuss blog or Facebook is invalid, as is a reply on Twitter. You must comment here to be entered. For an optional second shot at winning, tweet the following:

I just entered to win a Dia de los Muertos sugar skull apron/kitchen set/& more from @SourpussBrand & @CupcakeRehab! http://cupcakerehab.com/2012/10/black-velvet-cupcakes-sugar-skulls-a-sourpuss-giveaway/

Just copy & paste the above phrase, post it on Twitter, and then come back & comment a second time. That’s two chances to win. Optional third chance: share the link for this post (see the icon below) on Facebook and then come back & tell me. That’s three chances. Only the first one is mandatory to enter. The other two are just added extras.

But.. there’s ONE MORE thing. For an optional fourth bonus entry, get a friend to come here & enter. If you comment telling me who your friend is, you get a fourth entry, and they get an entry for themselves when they comment (maybe more, if they choose to use the Twitter and/or FB entries as well). So what are you waiting for? Go… get to commenting!

Sources & credits: Bakelite red-handled cutlery; vintage.

Dia de los Muertos/Noche de Altares.

I hope your Halloween was awesome! Mine was pretty good- tons of treats (& maybe some tricks). I was pretty bummed that I didn’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters, but what can ya do. I guess times are changing.

Each year, this particular time of the season is my favorite. I love fall weather, when it’s cool but not too cold yet (well, usually, this year we had snow before Halloween), the leaves are changing (again, usually, not so much this year), and of course Halloween & Dia de Los Muertos. The Mexican Day of the Dead has always been a holiday I’ve appreciated. The concept of it is one I think more Americans should embrace.

Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. In Mexico, neighbors gather in local cemeteries to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away.

- source

This year it especially hits home for me. Halloween marked the beginning of a long season of “first holidays” without my grandmother. My grandmother loved Halloween, as did her mother before her. And ever since I was a child, my Nana told me about All Saints’ Day/All Souls’ Day. She told me about all the superstitions her Irish grandmother & mother told her as a child. And those two holidays have a big tie-in with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The main difference being the Irish are very melancholy, sad and superstitious about it, whereas the Mexican view is much more celebratory: celebrating the dead AND the living, and reflecting but not being regretful. I love that! I’m not religious, not particularly spiritual, yet I find this to be a wonderful “holiday” that most Americans get totally wrong but could really, genuinely learn from. I also love the tradition of going to the cemetery & cleaning up & sprucing up the graves, decorating them & making them beautiful. Too many Americans forget about their deceased ancestors remains, and don’t bother to ever “visit” them… and trust me, the “Perpetual Care” you pay for ain’t so perpetual. Not only that, but opening yourself up to another culture & it’s traditions is so amazing. You learn so much, & not just about yourself.

Anyway, one of the most famous images of the Day of the Dead, aside from the sugar skull, is the Catrina, or the female skeleton. Popularized in 1913 by José Guadalupe Posada in a print/zinc etching he created of a figure he called La Calavera de la Catrinas or La Calavera Catrina.

© José Guadalupe Posada

On that same note, one of my favorite artists, Sylvia Ji, paints a lot of Catrina-themed women. I just adore her work and I think they’re so beautiful. The Catrina or Calavera is another aspect of Dia de los Muertos that makes me love it. I’m so inspired by these, as well as the imagery of Dia de los Muertos.

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Last year I made tres leches coconut cupcakes for Dia de los Muertos with little hand-painted sugar skulls. I still think they were completely amazing & adorable… but I didn’t want to repeat the same thing this year; I hate reruns. I wanted to do something a bit different. My friend Xenia asked me for my grandmother’s photo to add to her altar which was chosen for Noche de Altares (A Night of Altars), an event in Santa Ana that takes place tomorrow, November 5th. I was flattered that she would think of me… but also it gave me the bug. So I thought it was a great idea to make my own! It was a very small & simple one, but I think it served the purpose. I used the traditional marigolds, but some chrysanthemums too. So here are some pictures of my altar, and once the event is over I’ll add the pictures of Xenia’s as well, or a link to her post about it.

It’s just a small, simple altar, but I think it’s beautiful. Represented in the altar: my grandmother Agnes & grandfather Clarence, my great-great-grandmother Winifred Mackin, her daughter Mary & husband Thomas Rooney, my other great-great-grandmother Frances Hebrank & her husband Henry Sonnanburg, my great-uncle Pat, my great-aunt Winnie & her husband Sam Prybuski, my uncle Kenny, my great-aunt Eleanor Sonnanburg & her husband Frank Rooney, and my great-uncle Jack Sonnanburg; all deceased. I think it’s a gorgeous tribute. So in addition to creating my own altar this year, I also made Pan de Muerto. My grandma loved my baking, and my uncle Pat couldn’t eat a lot of sugar or carbs, being a diabetic, so as my offering to them this Day of the Dead, I thought this was appropriate on so many levels. Plus, it’s a day for celebrating life too, and what’s more celebratory than baking delicious bread & enjoying it!?

PAN DE MUERTO (BREAD OF THE DEAD) (from Look What We Brought You From Mexico! by Phyllis Shalant)

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup (half a stick) margarine or butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup very warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • ½ teaspoon anise seed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter, ¼ cup sugar and salt.
  2. In large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.
  3. Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Now add flour to the yeast and second egg. Blend well until dough ball is formed.
  4. Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise in warm place for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Knead dough again on floured surface. Now divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces into “ropes.”
  6. On greased baking sheet, pinch 3 rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form 2 “bones.” Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.
  7. Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.
  8. When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

I made mine a bit differently. I used about a ½ teaspoon anise extract in the actual dough, seeing as how I had no anise seed. I used 100% butter, not margarine. Also, obviously, I made my bread in a round shape and covered it with a rough-shaped cut-out dough skull & crossbones. Of course, as the bread bakes & rises the shapes don’t exactly stay together but I think that adds to it. You can also paint the dough or color parts of it using food coloring. The anise didn’t make it overwhelmingly “licorice-y” at all, so don’t be afraid to do it. It actually was so subtle, I could barely taste it. I put this bread in the ‘quick & easy’ category because I was surprised at how simple it was to make. I think it definitely makes things easier if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, however. The crumb of the bread was fantastic, too.

I hope all my family had a wonderful Day of the Dead, wherever they are in the great beyond. Maybe they came to pay a visit & saw my altar for them.

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“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.” Leonardo da Vinci

Tres leches cupcakes for Dia de Los Muertos.

Did you all have a good Halloween? Hope so. I’m sad it’s over, but there’s more fun holidays to look forward to, right?

I love anything Day of the Dead. Sugar skulls & “Catrinas” especially. I love the entire concept of the day, really. It’s like a last hurrah after Halloween, when it’s still acceptable to have skulls out on display. I know I’m late by a day, but I was busy, so I couldn’t post it yesterday.

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Mexican Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 2 in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Due to occurring shortly after Halloween, the Day of the Dead is sometimes thought to be a similar holiday, although the two actually have little in common. The Day of the Dead is a time of celebration, where partying and eating is common.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern holiday to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl. In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe and in the Philippines, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

When I was young, my grandmother used to tell me about All Saint’s Day/All Souls Day, and although we aren’t Mexican, she’s Irish and the Irish have plenty of superstition and beliefs about the dead. I was just drawn to the way the Mexican’s celebrated it so boldly and not as melancholy or morbidly as the Irish do. It’s more like a celebration, and who doesn’t love celebrations? These dudes certainly do!

A few years ago I made sugar skull toppers and put them on cinnamon vanilla cupcakes with Mexican Hot Chocolate buttercream, and those would be an excellent choice for this day as well. But I’ve been there, done that. So here’s a new Mexican inspired cupcake idea.. tres leches cake! Tres leches literally means ‘three milks’ (which I’m sure you already knew). I love coconut so I thought this was a great way of doing the tres leches thing. Plus I had these little skulls made of sugar… so…

TRES LECHES COCONUT CUPCAKES (modified slightly from FoodNetwork.com)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed; add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the flour.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cake batter.
  4. Fill standard paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet to cool.
  5. While cupcakes are still warm, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Using a meat injector needle, inject each cupcake in several different spots with about ½ to ¾-ounce of the mixture. Or, poke several holes in the top of each of the cupcakes with a ¼-inch wooden skewer. Pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Big thanks to Yoyo for sending me that awesome skull table runner!


Sugar skulls photo courtesy of school33.org

I topped them with a Swiss meringue buttercream sprinkled with cinnamon and little icing skulls by Wilton that I bought around Halloween. Typically, sugar skulls are white and brightly decorated with multi-colored designs. I just used some Wilton gel food coloring and drew on designs to mimic the sugar skull-style using toothpicks. It’s easy to do and you really can’t screw up. If you want to, you could make royal icing and tint it different colors, then use a very small round pastry tip to create the detailed pattern, but it would take a lot longer (and the way I did it took long enough!). You can also create the same effect using a candy mold of a skull and colored candy melts. There are also sugar skull kits out there, they might come in a mini-size that’s perfect for cupcakes.

These cupcakes were amazingly moist, super tasty… and a bit sticky. The milks make it really moist but they also make it messy to eat. Worth it, though. Just don’t expect your liners to last long. I used liners called Reynolds® StayBrite™ Baking Cups that looked pretty but were also thick enough and foil-lined so that the liquid wouldn’t soak through and ruin the liners. If you use paper liners, expect them to be soaked through with the tres leches.

*Psst, I made a mistake and posted this early this morning with no photos, so if you saw this, then saw it disappear… now you know why!

The “painted” Wilton skulls…