Happy Halloween everyone!  I am a big fan of holidays and really get into the spirit.  I love to decorate and make various themed treats.  Ever since I saw these cupcakes last Halloween, I have been dying to make them.  Unfortunately I never found an opportunity during the past year when eyeball cupcakes would have really been appropriate, but finally the time has come again!  (Too bad I didn’t know about these during my ophthamology rotation, haha!)  I made these as a Halloween treat for the teachers at Ben’s school and I was so pleased with how they turned out.

These are supposed to be red velvet cupcakes, but for some reason I was having a very off day with food coloring.  The first tube of coloring I added didn’t turn the batter as red as I wanted, so I added some of my Wilton red gel color.  The batter was perfectly red going into the oven, but came out looking not quite brown, but definitely not red.  Well, that’s because I used icing color – not food coloring.  So, lesson learned – icing color and food coloring are not the same thing!  It didn’t matter a bit though, the cake still tastes fabulous and when it is decorated in such a fun way, I don’t think anyone cares about the color of the cake itself.  Otherwise, these were a breeze to put together and such a fun holiday treat.  I think kids would love them!

Eyeball Cupcakes
Yield: about 22 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 ounce bottle red food coloring

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese (no need to soften)
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

For decorating:
additional red food coloring
Gummy Savers, assorted colors
black M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners.  Cream the eggs, sugar, oil and vinegar.  Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa together.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients while beating.  Slowly add the buttermilk.  While still beating, add the vanilla and the food coloring.  Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way with batter.  Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium-high speed.  Add the powdered sugar to the bowl in batches, beating on low until just combined and then on high until desired consistency is reached.  For a stiffer icing, add more powdered sugar.

To decorate the cupcakes, frost liberally with cream cheese frosting.  Tint remaining frosting with red food coloring to desired shade.  Place a Gummy Saver in the center of each cupcake.  Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of frosting into the hole in the center of each Gummy Saver.  Place a black M&M candy (logo down) in the center of each Gummy Saver and press down to adhere to frosting.  Pipe squiggly lines of red frosting radiating out from around each Gummy Saver to create vessels.

Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, cake from Annie’s Eats