These Ghost Cupcakes are deliciously spooky and moist Black Velvet Cupcakes topped with Whipped Cream Frosting made with instant pudding. Add some mini and regular chocolate chips for eyes and a mouth and these Halloween ghost cupcakes are sure to excite all your friends and family.
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy Halloween ghost cupcake recipe. Turn this delicious Black Velvet Cupcakes Recipe into ghosts by adding my homemade Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe and some chocolate chips! No need for fancy candy eyeballs or anything!
- Light whipped cream frosting. These halloween ghost cupcakes are super delicious and aren’t super sweet either! The frosting recipe is made with only 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and then the instant pudding mix (instead of cups and cups of powdered sugar!)
- Perfect Halloween treat. These halloween ghost cupcakes are the perfect treat to serve at a Halloween party! Black cupcakes with white frosting are the perfect ghost combination!
- Cake Flour: Cake flour is a finer milled flour so it will function differently than regular flour. You do need cake flour for this recipe.
- Black Cocoa Powder: You do need black cocoa powder if you are wanting the black color. The black gel food coloring won’t be enough to get it super black.
- Vegetable Oil: The oil based cake will make these black velvet cupcakes deliciously moist and soft!
- Sour Cream: Use full fat sour cream. The sour cream adds fat to the recipe to help create even more moisture in the texture — so using full fat will provide the best results.
- Buttermilk: Use room temperature buttermilk to get the best results.
- White Vinegar: Vinegar is a staple in any velvet recipe (such as Red Velvet Cake). This is a black velvet cupcake recipe, so we use the vinegar to get that velvety texture and flavor.
- Black Gel Food Coloring: This is added to the wet ingredients to deepen the black color even further. If you don’t have black gel food coloring, that’s ok! You can skip this if you’d like. You’ll still get a nice black color from the black cocoa powder.
- White Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix: You’ll need this to make the Whipped Cream Frosting. Be sure to use the dry mix instant pudding, not cook and serve and not already made pudding.
- Mini Chocolate Chips: These will be for the ghost eyes!You’ll use regular-sized chocolate chips for the mouths!
- Make the Black Velvet Cupcakes. Start by combining the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cake flour, granulated sugar, black cocoa powder, baking soda, and the salt. Whisk until combined.
- Combine wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, sour cream, white vinegar, egg, vanilla extract, and black food coloring (if using). Whisk until well combined.
- Combine wet ingredients with the dry. Add the wet ingredients into the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until just combined.
- Portion into cupcakes. Line a regular muffin pan with cupcake liners. Using a cookie scoop, portion the black velvet cupcake batter into the cupcake liners. Fill to 1/2 full. If you fill them more than 1/2 full, they will spill over!
- Bake the black cocoa cupcakes. Place the cupcakes in an oven preheated to 350°F. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter. Remove and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the Whipped Cream Frosting. Beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the instant pudding mix and mix until low speak until thick and creamy. If it appears curdled, that’s OK! It’s just the pudding setting up. Add a tablespoon of milk/cream 1 T at a time and mix after each addition until smooth. (I used 3-4 T of milk).
- Assemble the cupcakes! Place the pudding whipped cream frosting in a piping bag. Pipe a swirl of frosting on the top of the cupcakes. (I did about 3 swirls.) Place a regular chocolate chip in the middle swirl, flat side out to make the mouth. Place the mini chocolate chips on the top swirl, next to each other, flat side out, for the eyes. Serve these cute ghosts right away or store in the fridge for later.
Using room temperature wet ingredients will help things incorporate better into the batter and you’ll get a better rise from the cupcakes.
If the frosting starts seizing and looking curdled, don’t worry! It’s just the instant pudding mix at work. There is gelatinized starch in there that works like gelatin and will set the frosting. To help, add 1 tablespoon of milk or cream at a time and mix after each addition. Continue until the mixture is smooth. I did about 3-4 tablespoons.
The frosting base is cream, not butter, so best to frosting on top of cookies, cupcakes or cakes and not use as a filling in between cake layers.
Feel free to use other things for the eyes and mouth. I used the mini and regular chocolate chips for convenience!
You can also makes this ghost cupcakes recipe with a Chocolate Cupcakes with whipped cream frosting instead of the black cupcakes.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
You can make this ghost Halloween cupcakes recipe ahead of time! Store any of the baked cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days prior to frosting and enjoying.
You can freeze any unfrosted cupcakes as well! Store in an airtight container or freezer safe bag in the freezer for 2-3 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight.
Store the whipped cream frosting with pudding in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
For more information on storing and freezing cakes (same applies to cupcakes), including how to freeze cakes, cupcakes, buttercream and decorated cakes or cupcakes, check out my How to Store and Freeze Cakes guide!
These ghost cupcakes are fine to sit out at room temperature while you are serving them. When you are done serving them, or about 1-2 hours, I would return them to the fridge. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
The instant pudding mix in the recipe does help the frosting stay put. This whipped cream frosting won’t weep or melt (until maybe on a really hot day sitting in the sun for some time! – as would most things!). But otherwise, this frosting will pipe on well and keep its shape.
If your frosting isn’t setting up and holding its shape, double check the instant pudding mix you bought. Is it the cook and serve kind? If it is NOT instant pudding then that’s the reason! Any other kind will not work. The instant pudding contains gelatinized starch which makes it a stabilized whipped cream frosting so it doesn’t weep or melt and so it holds its shape!
Sure! If you want to add a spooky surprise to the middle, use a cupcake corer or a piping tip to remove the center of a cupcake. Fill with some Raspberry Sauce!
More Halloween Treats
Black Cocoa Cupcakes
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup black cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sour cream - I used full fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk - at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- black gel food coloring - optional
Whipped Cream Frosting with Pudding
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream - cold, plus more if needed (see directions)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 3.4 oz white chocolate INSTANT pudding - just the dry mix!
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- mini chocolate chips
- regular sized chocolate chips
Black Cocoa Cupcakes
- Make the Black Cocoa Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cavity (regular sized) muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate medium sized bowl, or a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the vegetable oil, sour cream, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, white vinegar, and black food coloring.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients (using a paddle attachment) and mix on low until ingredients are combined.
- Portion the batter into the cupcake liners until ½ full (I use a size 20, 3 tablespoon sized cookie scoop to portion my batter evenly amongst the cupcake compartments). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs on the toothpick from the center of the cupcakes.
- Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whipped Cream Frosting with Pudding
- Make the Whipped Cream Frosting: In a large bowl add the heavy cream and powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks. Gradually add the instant pudding, then beat until thick and creamy. If the frosting looks curdled, that’s fine, to fix it add a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream to the frosting and stir it in using a rubber spatula. Continue adding a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and no longer curdled looking. I ended up adding an additional 3-4 tablespoons of milk to my frosting.
- Place the whipped cream frosting in a piping bag. Pipe a generous swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake. Use the flat side of the chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth.