Creepy Crawly Spider Cupcakes

Ingredient List

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup warm water
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tbs  canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Black cupcake liners

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
¾ stick of unsalted, softened butter
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs whole milk
1 tbs vanilla
½ tsp lemon juice

Cupcake Topping
Black sanding sugar
Cinnamon candy (like red hots) or sugar eyes 
1 bag marshmallows
1 bag black licorice (preferably the skinny licorice)

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20- 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

To make vanilla buttercream icing:
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer – cream butter and salt for 30 seconds.  Add ½ of the sugar & milk to batter and beat to combined. Add the rest of powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat until combined, about 5-6 minutes or until frosting is fluffy. Stir to get all the bubbles out.

To decorate the cupcakes:
Once cooled, ice mini cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and coat icing with black sanding sugar. Use cinnamon candy for eyes or sugar eyes (if preferred).  For legs, attach 8 pieces of black licorice. For fangs, cut out tiny cone shapes from a marshmallow and attach.