I can say without a doubt that is definitely the grossest title for a blog update I have ever written. And these are probably the ickiest treat I have ever made (or do you think the eyeball cupcakes win?) But really, that’s the fun of Halloween! I’ve been wanting to make these since last Halloween but of course, there never seems to be an appropriate occasion for such confections.  Even as a physician, I was never quite sure if my colleagues would find it funny or just creepy and gross so I held off. (Wouldn’t they be funny for our neuropathologists, though?!)  Finally Halloween is here and my opportunity has arrived!

These are simple enough to make, and you can really use whatever recipes you like for cake, frosting and filling – only the method is important.  Bake whatever cupcakes you wish – I used Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake – hope she doesn’t mind :).  I decided to use canned cherry pie filling for the blood clot and though I had intended to puree it, I thought the cherries would give it a more clotted look (haha!)  I suppose you could puree it and call it a hemorrhagic stroke.  I used my usual vanilla buttercream for the icing, and colored it with very small amounts of red, brown and black to achieve that cerebral cortex color.   Then just squiggle on top to get the effect of the gyri and sulci of the brain.  (I cannot tell you how much it pains me that these are not even remotely anatomically correct, but it would have been impossible.)  To help get the look of a brain, try to decorate in two halves to give the look of hemispheres, try to give it a domed shape, and make the sides as symmetrical as possible.

I also made a few with vessels using red decorating gel, but I’m not sure I like it as well.   To me it kind of looks like subarachnoid hemorrhage – but I’m sure that’s just me, and normal people wouldn’t think about such bizarre things.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

Source: inspired by Not Quite Nigella , originally from Hey There, Cupcake!

  • Riss

    These are fantastic!! Very well done. I’m not big on the whole Halloween confection thing, but these are just too much fun! Now I just wish I had somewhere to go that would give me a reason to make them.

  • randomanderson

    I’m not a gag prone person. But this morning, this made me gag just reading the title. Probably means it’s perfect for Halloween!

  • uri

    These look absolutely amazing. I’m curious whether it would be possible to weave the blood vessels in with the brain matter for a different look.

  • Um, yeah, these are way grosser than the eyeballs.



  • Amy

    The icing color came out great! I like the brains minus blood vessels as well. :)

  • Those are completley scary and gross- but in a GOOD way! Nice job. I’m impressed!

  • Ew! I’m sure kids will love these, but I myself would tend to go for the cuter sugar cookies. I couldn’t get past the “brains” icing. Nice horrifying job here. They are Halloween perfect!

  • Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewww! I love them!

  • smellslikehome

    LOVE these Annie!!! they came out absolutely perfect and though it may have pained you to not make them completely anatomically correct, i can almost guarantee that most of us will not know the difference. :)

  • Katherine

    I love all of science/medical talk in this post. And, yes, they are gross but super creative.

  • Annie

    As a neuroscience grad student and a med student in neurology, these are just PERFECT.

  • These cupcakes are fantastic! Love ’em :).

  • Annie

    Thanks, Tara. I think I’d be far less self-conscious about it if I weren’t taking them to a party with a bunch of other doctors!
    :) Annie

  • These look incredibly gruesome, but really delicious too. Love your ideas. Happy Halloween.

  • Well, I can honestly say I really have no idea what you’re talking about medically. I didn’t even understand half of this post, but these cupcakes are beyond compare! Brilliance! I’m gonna send this link to my cousin–she’s a med student and I’m sure she’ll find these entertaining.

  • I definitely could not bite into one of these cupcakes without gagging! You’ve done it now, Annie… I can no longer look at your blog until you have the next post up. ha! Kidding, of course!

    Clever, very clever! :)

  • These are freaking awesome!

  • These are seriously gross looking enough to be absolutely perfect. Amazing job!

  • betchacanteatjustone

    These look so disgusting! I totally wish I had what I needed on hand to be able to make them!!! :)

  • Amanda

    These are super gross looking, but also super funny! I’m making the eyeball cupcakes tomorrow!!

  • Katie

    As a neuroscientist, I find these cupcakes amaaaaazing. Love them!

    And I also prefer the ones without the blood vessels.

  • These are brilliant Annie! I’ve seen brain cupcakes before, but never with the blood clot middle. My boys would get a kick out of these!

  • Nikki

    I will be making these for my classmates in my motor speech disorders class next semester. Speech Language Pathologists love this sort of stuff.

  • nutmegnanny

    I can agree that it has a weird title but they look ghoulishness delicious:)

  • These are hands down the coolest cupcakes EVER! I feel all gleeful inside just thinking about making them!


  • Is the subarachnoid hemorrhage due to a cherry aneurysm? Love the post!

  • Annie

    OMG, HOW did I not think of that?! Good call!
    :) Annie

  • Wow, the mini brains are very realistic indeed! I love the blood vessels too! Maybe I should make this for my Biology class when we start studying Neurobiology in our course…

  • I. LOVE. THESE. So clever, Annie! I really like how it fits into your career :o) I’m a teacher, so I get a kick out of themed goodies. Two thumbs up!

  • Tessa

    Oh my gosh, Annie, I LOVE these cupcakes. As a fellow med student (well, I know you’re officially a doctor now – congrats by the way!!) this is one of the funniest recipes I’ve ever seen. SO clever. Happy Halloween!

  • These look lots better than they sound!
    Very creative!
    Happy Halloween!
    Thanks, L.

  • bakergirlcreations

    The BEST idea for Halloween cupcakes – as usual, so great!

  • these would be good for a themed party, movie night or game night…

  • These are amazing! I hope they were a hit with the docs. LOVE them!

  • OH-WOW.
    WAY COOL !

  • Johanna

    It’s so yummy!!!

  • Oh, I think they are too funny and perfect for the occasion! I must show them to my doctor sister!

  • LOL, it would be kinda cool to see everyone’s expressions whne they take a gander at those cupcakes.

  • Tiffany

    Thanks for posting these! I saw another blogger who did them, but their icing wasn’t tinted and I suggested they tint it a pink color. I’m glad that you added what colors you used to get the cerebral effect just right! I personally like the red veins, it adds another dimension!

  • Um….yeah… those look so real I almost dnot want to eat them!! Fantastic job!!

    Many blessings to you-

  • I LOVE these. Don’t think I can wait till next year, classmates are getting these badboys if I can get the icing right! The cherry has the desired “ugh” effect too!

  • sweetindulgences

    These are amazing!!!

  • The cut picture is absolutely disgusting! So I guess you achieved what you wanted perfectly! :P

  • Kristen

    I just now found this recipe when I Googled “cupcakes” and am very excited to make them next year. But how on earth do you get the pie filling inside the cupcake? Do I have to scoop out a little hole? Please help this novice baker!

  • Annie

    It’s called the cone method if you want to look it up. But basically cut a little chunk of cupcae out with a paring knife, recover if desired with leftover cake scraps, and frost.

  • I am currently a medical student plowing through the head and neck unit of anatomy – these and the eyeball cupcakes will be perfect for Halloween after the dissections I’ve done this past week! My classmates and I were just remarking that anatomy lab pretty much took the spook out of Halloween… Thanks for the recipes!

  • Rose

    Hi Annie,
    How did you get your pie filling to be so juicy? I put as much as would fit into the cupcakes, but mine were no where near as juicy as yours. Did you take the picture right after you filled them? I waited a few hours before eating them, so maybe the juice had absorbed into the cake by then?
    Just wondering.
    Thanks for all the AWESOME recipes!!!!

  • Annie

    It may just have to do with the type of pie filling, I suppose. I didn’t do anything special, and I took the photos several hours after making the cupcakes.

  • Kathryn Harter

    I love this!!! In fact, I’m making them right now! I have a question though, did you put the pie filling in before you baked, or after? Thank you!!!! Happy Halloween!

  • Annie


  • Ashley

    Thanks Annie! I made these for our church party and I won the award for scariest dessert! They were gone fast too!

  • I wish I could send you my kids reaction, LOL. They went from horrified to, “OH COOL” then the oldest took me aside and whispered…can we eat them? LOL…GOOD one, Annie!

  • Annie

    Haha! So funny :)

  • April McCook

    Question for you, how did you put the pie filling in the middle? and is it just me or is the recipe not posted on this one? I only see the small descriptions under the pictures?

  • Annie

    See this post. No specific recipe since you can do it with any recipe you like. Enjoy!

  • Mattie

    Oh my goodness these are hilarious! I am a neuroscience grad student, and as luck would have it, neuroanatomy class falls on Halloween this year, so I’m definitely making these for the class! Although it might take me a bit longer, since for neuroanatomy I better make them at least remotely anatomically correct. Thanks for the adorable/hilarious/gross idea!

  • Candice

    Ok Annie, I am trying these out for our Halloween Baking Contest at work. I just made your Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes last night for a co-workers birthday and they are a huge hit. I am sure these super disgusting cupcakes will horrify the eyes and delight the tastebuds. Can’t wait to give them a try!

  • Tracimay

    I am an ED RN and I am making these to take to work tonight. Halloween or not these are hilarious! I love them!

  • Holly S.

    These are amazing! They would be perfect for a Zombie-themed Halloween party…”braaaaains!” Thanks for another crazy-awesome recipe!

  • Patience

    Could I put the pie filling in the night before I serve them or will it make the cake soggy?

  • annieseats

    It should be fine.

  • Ruthi

    So I know it’s been a long time since you posted this recipe, but do you know which icing tip you used?

  • annieseats

    Unfortunately the one I used is unlabeled, but I would estimate it’s about 1/2-inch round opening. I’m sure many would work though.

  • Grace Bishop

    What frosting would you recommend using so the brain squiggles stay put and dont merge all together?
    Im doing a trial run of these and I used a mix of store bought whipped cream cheese frosting and a little bit of marshmallow puff… it didnt stay very well lol.

  • annieseats

    I would make a homemade buttercream. I use this one a lot for various decorating and it does just fine: http://www.annies-eats.com/2012/07/30/cupcake-basics-whipped-vanilla-buttercream/

  • Zoe

    I made these as peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. yummy!