Owl Cupcakes – These adorable little owl cupcakes are perfect for parties or Halloween. Plus, it’s easy to make them gluten free & dairy free!
You will need:
- Baked cupcakes* (cool completely before decorating)
- Chocolate frosting or ganache (see below)
- Oreo-type chocolate sandwich cookies (use Glutino, Kinnikinnik, Mi-Del, or Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Joe-Joe’s for gluten free)
- M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, or a gluten free/dairy free chocolate candy (like Little Secrets)
- Candy corn (or orange chocolate candies–like Little Secrets–if vegan)
Prepare Cupcakes & Frosting:
- Use your favorite cupcake recipe or make a boxed cake mix to make 20-24 cupcakes. (See notes for my favorite mix + tricks)
- Allow your cupcakes to cool completely before assembling.
- Prepare your frosting or ganache. Assemble your eyes (see next step) before frosting the cupcakes.
Make the Eyes Before Frosting:
- Twist the chocolate sandwich cookies to open, trying to get as much frosting as you can on one half. I find it works well to hold one half completely still while twisting the other half. (Set aside the frosting-free halves for another use.)
- If you need to smooth the frosting out, use a spatula to do so.
- Quickly place one chocolate candy on each cookie half for the pupils. (I like to place mine in a bottom “corner” for a more cross-eyed look)
- Repeat until you have enough eyes for your cupcakes. Set aside while you frost your cupcakes.
Frost & Assemble Cupcakes:
- Working with 1-2 cupcakes at a time, dip the cupcake in ganache or frost with chocolate frosting.
- Quickly place the cookie eyes on the top of the cupcake in the center. Hold in place for 10-20 seconds to allow them to stick. (If your eyes are having trouble sticking, you can place the cupcake in between two glasses to hold the eyes in place for a few extra seconds).
- Add a candy corn beak below the eyes.
- Repeat with remaining cupcakes, working in batches until all the owls have eyes and beaks.
My favorite gluten free cake mix is King Arthur Flour’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix. I add 1 (3oz) package of dry chocolate pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup almond milk or water, 1/2 cup oil (coconut or avocado), and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, pour into prepared muffin cups and bake according to box directions.
Quick Ganache: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or double boiler, gently melt 1 cup chocolate chips + 3-4 Tbsp coconut milk (or your favorite milk) over low heat. Whisk until completely smooth. Stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly before using on cupcakes.
Go slow. These are SUPER easy to make. The “trickiest” part of making them is opening your chocolate sandwich cookies. This isn’t too tricky (see my next tip), but works best if you don’t try to speed through. Also, I always plan to only get to use one half of each cookie, which makes it much easier. You can freeze the leftover cookie halves for another time–chocolate pudding “dirt” cups, mixing into vanilla ice cream, making a chocolate cookie crumb crust, etc.
If you’re having trouble opening your cookies, hold one side completely still and only twist one half. Sometimes, if you twist both halves, the frosting doesn’t split as nicely. If your frosting doesn’t split well, you can usually coax it right back into place with a spatula. And remember: go slow. Don’t try to rush this.
Best Tip for Decorating: Work in Batches. I actually assemble all my “eyes” (cookie + candy) before frosting any of the cupcakes, so that the candy will best stick to the frosting on the cookie. Similarly, I find it’s best to frost & assemble only a few cupcakes at a time. That way, my frosting is fresh enough that the cookies will easily stick to them. Make sense?
Tip for the Cutest Eyes: Place your candies in a bottom “corner” of the frosting circle, almost to make them look cross-eyed. If you put the candy dot in the center of the cookie, your owls will look a little “stunned.”
- Category: desserts, cake, cupcake
- Method: oven, stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: gluten free cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, owl cupcakes, halloween cupcakes, dairy free, gluten free, ganache