Well, it’s been a while since I made cupcakes that involved blood. Actually it’s been a while since I made “gory” or creepy cupcakes. For a long time there I sorta went the cutesy route with my Halloween offerings. But that has changed, my dear readers. I got some new-found inspiration from my pseudo-TV- boyfriend…. Dexter Morgan.
Ohhh, Dexter. AKA Michael C. Hall. You might know him from Six Feet Under, but we’re not here to talk about that. You should know him from his TV show, aptly named Dexter, where he plays Mr. Dexter Morgan, a murderous character: blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Police Department by day/serial killer by night. Key players? Glass slides, clear plastic sheeting, blood (lots of it), some bad guys that deserve a good killin’ and a few crazy bitches thrown in for good measure. Obviously, blood & blood spatter is a major part of the show, both in Dexter’s day job… and his “night job.”
So, that said, welcome to my “Kill Room.”
I’m a big fan of the show. Is that obvious?
My love of Dexter came about kind of randomly last fall. On a whim, I ended up putting every available season on my Netflix queue and watching them one after another. I’d been hearing such great things about the show for so long, but I hate to jump on bandwagons. The more hype something has, the less I’m interested. So I resisted (just like I did with Sex & the City, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under- it took me years to see those) for a long time and then I ended up watching all 5 seasons in a matter of two months, devouring them like a fiend. I fell in love. And see, I have a thing for the bad guy. I know it seems funny for me to say that, being that my significant other is a cop, but it’s true! I loved Tony Soprano, I love Nucky Thompson & Jimmy Darmody, I love Dexter. I find he’s not really all that bad. He’s cleaning up the element the police can’t due to red tape or lack of evidence. And that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned!* Come on, be honest: you can’t tell me you’ve never heard a story about a crime and said (re: the criminal) “I wish I could get my hands on that bastard.” Of course you have.
Plus, I have a little crush on him, serial killer or not.
Anyway, all I know is, I
like love the show. So when I was thinking of my Halloween cupcake offerings for this year, I came up with the idea of some gory, blood drenched ones as I was having a little refresher watching season 6 of Dexter before the new season starts tonight. It seemed almost wrong to not refer to him & acknowledge the show in my post, especially since I got my idea from it and also used some of the posters for sale in the Dexter Showtime store as “pattern inspiration” for my blood. What I used for the blood itself was really easy: just some red gel icing color (Wilton Christmas Red) mixed with a tad hot water. I just mixed it until it was “drippable” or “splatterable” (neither of those are in Webster’s, I guarantee you). I used a toothbrush to fling/spatter/squirt the blood onto the frosted cakes. Instant crime scene.
If you want to use a cherry-flavored extract to mix with the food coloring, you can. But the alcohol content might cause it to behave differently than water, so I don’t know if it’ll “dry” the same way or splatter the same. But it’s worth a shot. You could probably even use liquid food coloring with good results, too. Even better would be Karo syrup thinned out a little with red liquid food coloring & water. That way it would mimic the thing I like best about using the gel: it’s thicker, so it has more heft. Also another benefit of the gel is that it doesn’t fully dissolve so it has little “clots”… and therefore it’s more like real blood. However I’m just a perfectionist! Nobody else would notice that stuff. I’m just one of those crazy people that notice details.
(Either way, no matter what method you use, I do recommend that you use an old tablecloth [if not actual plastic like I did] because once this stuff splatters on something light-colored, then you’re done with that for good. Oh, and wear plastic gloves. Seriously.)
Needless to say, disposing of the aforementioned red-dotted plastic was a challenge. The food coloring seriously looked so much like real blood, and the splatters looked so realistic, too. Because of that, to avoid frightening my idiot neighbors or causing a mass hysteria, I had to roll it up & wrap it in a black Hefty bag, so I really felt like Dexter. Haha. Maybe I should’ve let them see it… that would’ve made things interesting, huh?
The cupcakes can be any kind you like. I chose chocolate, and I filled half of them with some cherry preserves… but anything will work: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, etc. The main thing is that the frosting be white or off-white. I know it seems incredibly obvious, but you won’t see the blood spatter on chocolate frosting, it’ll just look messy. You can see how the spatter looks when it gets on the chocolate cupcake, imagine that as frosting. Not as good. It’s really a great effect on the white frosting.
You can even take it one step further and make glass slides out of sugar!
SUPER CHOCOLATEY CUPCAKES
Makes about 2 dozen
- 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs (one at a time)
- 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Cream butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add 4 large eggs (one at a time) and beat each until thoroughly combined, then add chocolate (chocolate should be melted, then cooled for approximately 15 minutes before being added). Add and alternate cake flour plus baking soda with buttermilk (room temperature) plus vanilla extract.
- Place cupcake paper into each cup of 2 muffin pans (each pan yielding 12 muffins). Then fill each cup with 1 leveled off scoop of an ice cream scooper (or a little more than halfway).
- Bake at 350° degrees in regular oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
HEAVY CREAM BUTTERCREAM
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (perhaps more)
- Place the butter and shortening in a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the first pound and a half of powdered sugar, a cup at a time until all is incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl very well. Add the vanilla and mix again.
- Slowly add half of the heavy cream while the mixer is on, and beat for one minute. Add more cream or sugar as needed to achieve a frosting consistency that’s suitable to piping. Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.
Like I said, it was really a little freaky how much like blood it looked. Not to mention how well it splattered. I was shocked that it really had the viscosity of blood. Not that I know that much about blood or anything…
Tell me they aren’t beyond awesome. You can’t. ‘Cause they are.
And of course, this idea can be adapted to a variety of movies/TV shows/themes: just regular old Halloween parties, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, Friday the 13th, vampires, CSI, Carrie, American Psycho, etc. Any gory horror movie where they feature a lot of blood, you can use these to represent it. Personally I’ve done the vampire angle a few times and I figured it was Dexter’s turn. Plus I already had all this plastic sheeting. Don’t ask why. It’s just better that way.
Dexter airs Sunday nights (that’s tonight!) at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime. Be there or be…
*I am not endorsing vigilante justice. Okay, maybe just a little bit.