As I write, my husband, six-month-old daughter, and I are hunkered down in our living room with an air mattress and travel crib, emergency bags packed — just in case — flashlights handy, and a wary eye on the 30-foot tree that is (still!) standing just a few feet from the front of our house: ready to face the worst of yet another hurricane.
Since work and daycare are closed until Sandy passes, and we’re still lucky enough to have power (except for about 20 minutes there a little earlier), it was a good day to whip up a last-minute Halloween treat: cupcakes! They’re the perfect dessert for a power outage: they require no refrigeration and no fussy utensils that need to be washed. Plus, with so many leaky places and trees and power lines nearby, this little legion of confectionery monsters with colorful coconut fur and candy googly-eyes helps us keep watch over every corner of our little fort. And it just goes to show that it’ll take more than a hurricane to put a total damper on our Halloween fun.
What you need:
- Cupcakes (any flavor), baked and frosted (24 regular-sized cupcakes)
- Coconut flakes, 1 lb.
- Food coloring
- Candy melts — black and white
Make the fur:
1. Mix 1 teaspoon of water with food coloring. If using more than one color, divide the coconut into separate food storage bags, depending on the number of colors you are using. Pour food coloring over coconut in bag, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Seal the bag and shake until coconut is colored evenly. Add more food coloring to achieve desired color saturation.
2. Spread the coconut on a paper towel and let it dry for a few minutes.
3. Grab a cupcake and a large pinch of coconut flakes. Cover the top of the cupcake with coconut until it looks good and furry.
Store any leftover coconut in an airtight bag.
Make the eyes:
1. Place about 1/4–1/2 cup of candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. (You’ll need less of the black.) Microwave at full power for one minute, then stir. Continue to microwave in 30-second increments until fully melted and smooth.
2. Lay out a sheet of wax paper. Spoon the melted candy into a squeeze bottle. Gently shake the bottle upside down to eliminate air bubbles.
3. Squeeze out white candy to make a circle with a stick — like an upside down exclamation point. Make as many as you want. Be sure to make the stick thick enough — about 1/4 inch.
You can also use the candy melt to draw other features, such as mouths, hands, or ears. Use the black to create pupils.
To create details such as eyelashes, pull out a little bit of the still-warm candy with a toothpick.
Allow the candy to cool and harden completely before inserting into the cupcakes. Be sure to work quickly when handling the candy eyes, as the warmth from your fingers will cause the candy to soften; if the sticks are too thin, they’ll break. (The candy melts go a long way, so I like to make more eyes than I think I’ll need.)
And as simple as that, you’ve got a sweet, happy family of googly-eyed monsters!
If you’re also in Hurricane Sandy’s path, I hope that you’re safe and well. And wherever you are, here’s to a safe and happy Halloween!