Black Widow Spider Chocolate Rum Cupcakes

From 6 Bittersweets
Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: These can easily be converted into kid-friendly moist chocolate cupcakes by substituting the 3 tablespoons of rum with boiling water and simply omitting the rum from the ganache. The ganache needs to be used shortly after it's made. Toppers can be made in advance and stored at room temperature, but you should re-freeze the toppers for 10 to 15 minutes before moving them to the cupcakes since they (especially the spiders) are quite delicate. I made my spider toppers with semisweet chocolate and they turned out a bit too brown, so I definitely recommend using dark chocolate and even adding some black food coloring.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
6 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk [NOT skim]
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 Tbsp boiling water [OR 1/2 cup IF omitting rum]
3 Tbsp dark rum
Rum Chocolate Ganache (Recipe below)
White Chocolate Spiderwebs (Recipe below)
Chocolate Spiders (Recipe below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease tops of a cupcake pan and then line it with baking liners.

In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water and rum (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared cupcake liners, filling no more than 3/4 full. If there is batter left over, fill an additional 1 to 2 liners in another baking pan OR standalone baking cups with the remaining batter. Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pans to wire racks to finish cooling. Make the ganache as you wait for the cupcakes to cool.

Dip each cupcake upside-down into the ganache up to the liner, lift cake out of chocolate, and let excess ganache drip off. Next, turn cupcake right-side up and place on wire rack to let ganache set. (If ganache begins to harden before all of the cupcakes are dipped you may heat for 5-second intervals in a microwave until chocolate is smooth again).

After 30 minutes, once ganache has partially set, center a white chocolate spiderweb and then a chocolate spider atop each cupcake. Enjoy!

Rum Chocolate Ganache
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips or finely chopped bar)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp dark rum

Make ganache after cupcakes are mostly cooled off. Place chocolate in a small to medium bowl. Bring heavy cream and butter just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and let sit for about 5 minutes. Begin stirring mixture and continue stirring until the mixture is uniform and smooth (may take about 5 minutes of stirring). Stir in rum. Use immediately.

White Chocolate Spiderwebs
Slightly adapted from Country Living
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Microwave white chocolate chips in a bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Continue to microwave in 20-second intervals until almost melted. Stir again until chocolate is completely melted. Pour inside a zipper-lock bag with one tip snipped off to create an opening for piping.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Slide the spiderweb template underneath paper. To make each web, use piping opening to trace white chocolate along design, making sure to connect all lines. Repeat process until you've created 12 to 14 toppers (depending on the number of cupcakes). Chill them in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Then, using a spatula, carefully remove webs from parchment.

Chocolate Spiders
Modeling Chocolate (Recipe below)
1/2 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate
Black oil-based or powder food coloring (optional)
Red royal icing or melted candy melts

Microwave chopped dark chocolate in a bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Continue to microwave in 20-second intervals until almost melted. Stir again until chocolate is completely melted. If desired, add black oil-based or powder food coloring (do NOT use liquid/gel coloring; if you do, the chocolate will clump together and you'll have to toss it!) a little at a time, stirring well in between additions, until the chocolate is the desired shade of black. Pour inside a zipper-lock bag with one tip snipped off to create an opening for piping.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Slide a spider template [I simply printed out some cartoony images of black widow spiders I found online; here's what I used] underneath paper OR you could pipe freehand IF you trust yourself to do this. To make each spider, first roll modeling chocolate into 12 to 14 balls about the size of large green peas. Pipe a small dot of melted chocolate on the parchment above the round area of a spider on the template, and press ball of modeling chocolate onto it to secure. Now pipe chocolate to trace along the rest of the design, forming the spider head and legs. Make sure to connect all lines. Repeat process until you've created 12 to 14 spider toppers (depending on the number of cupcakes). Now place red royal icing or red candy melts (melted the same way as the chocolate chips above) into a zipper-lock bag. Snip off a tiny bit of the tip for piping, then trace and fill in an hourglass shape on each modeling chocolate spider "abdomen." Chill spiders in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Then remove carefully from parchment just before transferring to cupcakes.

Modeling Chocolate
10 oz. semisweet chocolate (coarsely chopped chunks or chips)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
Black food coloring, as needed

In a shallow bowl, melt the chocolate in microwave (be careful so that the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees F) for 2 minutes; stir. If chocolate is not completely melted, return to microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir until smooth. Add corn syrup to the chocolate and mix well (scrape all the corn syrup into the chocolate with a rubber spatula). Using a rubber spatula, stir and fold mixture, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well, until no shiny syrup is visible and the mixture forms a thick ball. Pour mixture onto a large sheet of wax or parchment paper and spread with the spatula until it’s about 1/2-inch thick; let it sit and stiffen, uncovered, for about 2 hours.

After that, knead black food coloring into the modeling chocolate 1 to 2 drops at a time until you get the desired shade. Use at once or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.