Decadent homemade chocolate cupcakes piled high with brightly colored buttercream frosting, these Hocus Pocus Halloween Cupcakes are a fun and easy Halloween cupcake idea! Perfect for Hocus Pocus movie parties, Disney-themed parties, or Halloween in general!
Serve these alongside some Witches Brew for a super fun, festive get together!
Easy Halloween Cupcakes
It’s hard to believe that the movie Hocus Pocus was released nearly 30 years ago! How is that possible? Honestly, it wasn’t a good film then and it remains mediocre. But we still watch it every year. Harmlessly hokey and family-friendly, it’s just become tradition and we actually look forward to it.
These easy Hocus Pocus Halloween cupcakes are for this year’s movie watching. They are a delicious, decadent homemade chocolate cupcake piled high with vanilla buttercream frosting. The frosting is dyed Halloween colors and each piped in a specific way to represent one of the beloved Sanderson sisters.
But, don’t worry! Even if you’re not into Hocus Pocus, these work great as a Halloween cupcake idea in general. I mean, how can you go wrong with delicious chocolate cupcakes topped with colorful, sweet frosting? Super fun.
These chocolate cupcakes are made entirely from scratch, with just a handful of ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
For the Halloween Cupcakes:
- Flour: Just regular all-purpose flour works great.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness.
- Baking soda & baking powder: Both leavening agents are used to help these cupcakes rise and maintain a fluffy texture.
- Espresso powder: Instant espresso powder adds depth of flavor and enhances the chocolate taste. These cupcakes do not taste like coffee.
- Cocoa powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is what makes these cupcakes chocolaty. We love Ghirardelli or Hershey’s.
- Boiling water: Used to dissolve the espresso and cocoa powders.
- Salt: Boosts the other flavors.
- Milk: Whole, full-fat milk will provide the most moisture and best results.
- Eggs: Provides structure and binds everything together. Eggs should be at room temperature.
- Vegetable oil: For moisture. Avoid using olive oil or any other oil with a strong flavor.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- Unsalted butter: We prefer unsalted butter, so the cake doesn’t end up too salty. It should be room temperature. Do not substitute with margarine or shortening.
- Powdered sugar: You need powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar and icing sugar) for this frosting. Do not use granulated white sugar or it will turn out gritty. Two pounds may seem like a lot but in end it’s just enough for all 24 cupcakes.
- Vanilla extract: For flavor and what makes the buttercream…vanilla buttercream.
- Heavy cream: Cream balances out the dry ingredients and helps the texture be perfect for piping. Heavy cream makes the frosting nice and rich. You can substitute half-n-half or whole milk if preferred, but keep in mind those contain less fat, which will make the frosting thinner, so use less.
- Food coloring: Yellow, orange, and purple are the colors typically associated with Hocus Pocus and the Sanderson sisters, as well as Halloween in general. If you’re not concerned about a Hocus Pocus theme, you can use other colors.
- Edible glitter: Silver glitter adds an extra level of bling to each of the cupcakes.
How to Make Hocus Pocus Cupcakes
Talk about easy cupcakes for Halloween! Though these may look fancy, they’re super simple to make. Here’s a brief summary:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for all the details.)
- Make the cupcake batter. Combine bowling water with cocoa and expresso powders. Let sit for 5 minutes while mixing other dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk the milk, eggs, and oil into the cocoa mixture then stir in the flour mixture until just smooth.
- Bake. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter for 5 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and add in the milk one tablespoon at a time. Mix for an additional 3 minutes.
- Color the buttercream. Divide the frosting into three separate bowls. Add each color of food coloring to one bowl.
- Decorate the cupcakes. Use a large star piping tip for the frosting. Swirl the yellow buttercream on a third of the cupcakes. For the orange cupcakes, do one normal swirl and two mini swirls on the sides. For the purple cupcakes, pipe at an angle so the frosting begins to tip over. Sprinkle all cupcakes with edible glitter.
Tips for Success
If this is your first time making Halloween-decorated cupcakes, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- How to tell when the cupcakes are done. Cupcakes are done when you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean or test by gently pressing down on the tops – when the cupcake tops spring back when pressed down on, they are done.
- Don’t over-mix the batter. When you add the flour mixture in, stir until just combine. Over-stirring can make the batter too dense.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool before icing. To avoid any melting or the buttercream not holding its shape, be sure to let the cupcakes cool completely before adding the frosting.
Here are some frequently asked questions about this Disney dessert and Halloween cupcakes in general.
- What’s the point of the espresso powder? The espresso will help bring out the chocolate flavor without making it taste like a mocha cupcake. If you want to leave out the powder, you can, but I highly recommend it because it really boosts the flavor.
- My buttercream seems too thin, what can I do so it doesn’t droop? If your buttercream seems not to hold its shape, you can slowly stir in more powdered sugar until it starts to hold its shape. This is important as the frosting needs to hold its shape for each Sanderson sister.
- What food coloring do you recommend? I prefer using food coloring gel over liquid dye. I got mine here on Amazon but you can find it in the baking section of most stores too.
- Where do I find edible glitter? A lot craft stores have it in their baking section. If you can’t find it locally, you can get some on Amazon.
- Where did you find those brown cupcake wrappers? I found them at my local craft store, but you can also get some here.
How to Store
- Store in the fridge. You can store your Halloween cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Can I freeze these? While I don’t recommend freezing the buttercream frosting, you can absolutely make the cupcakes in advance to freeze. Just allow them to thaw completely in the fridge and add the buttercream later.
More Fun Halloween Recipes:
- Ghost Toast
- Halloween Bloodshot Eyes
- Witches Brew (Halloween Punch)
- Halloween Monster Munch
- Candy Corn Pretzel Bark
Hocus Pocus Halloween Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- 2 cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- yellow, orange, and purple food coloring
- silver edible glitter
Make the Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cupcake cake pans with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, cocoa powder, and espresso powder, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- To the cooled cocoa mixture, whisk in the milk, eggs, and oil. Then stir in the flour mixture just until it starts to become smooth.
- Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 way full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed down on.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
Make the Buttercream
- In the bowl of your mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter has become light and fluffy.
- Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add in 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Turn the mixer back up to medium speed and mix for an additional 3 minutes. (Add in more heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if necessary. Frosting should be light and fluffy, but hold its shape and a little stiff so it does not fall when piping.)
- Divide the buttercream into three separate bowls. Add enough food coloring to each bowl to get a vibrant color, so you end up with one bowl of orange, one bowl of yellow, and one bowl of purple.
Assemble the Cupcakes
- Place each buttercream into a piping bag with a large star piping tip.
- On one-third of the cupcakes, pipe a swirl of the yellow buttercream by placing the piping tip in the middle of the cupcake and adding pressure to the bag. Swirl the bag around the cupcake, slowly making your way to the top.
- Pipe a swirl of orange buttercream on another third of the cupcakes, then pipe two mini swirls on the sides of the top of the buttercream.
- On the last third of the cupcakes, start by piping out a swirl of purple buttercream but keep piping at an angle while allowing the buttercream to begin to tip over.
- Sprinkle the cupcakes with edible glitter.
- NOTE: For helpful tips and visual help, refer back to the full article.