There is a house in New Orleans…
Has anyone else been singing this all week? I have, because I am unreasonably excited about American Horror Story: Coven, which premieres October 9th. And I have been geeking out and watching the teaser trailers on loop for about a week.
I’m a little bit of a horror addict. The first scary movie I ever saw was The Haunting (the 1963 version), and I still think it is one of the creepiest. When Eleanor is dancing with the statues in the atrium? Shudder. Or when she thinks Theo is squeezing her hand in the dark, then realizes she is on the other side of the room and is all, “Whose hand was I holding?” I am crying actual tears just thinking about it right now. I wish I was lying, but I’m so not.
Speaking of crying, let’s talk about how I saw The Strangers in the theater with my friend Megan, and afterward, when I was looking the other way, she grabbed my shoulder and went, “RAH!” and I burst into tears. Just bawled like a little baby. I’ve been concerned ever since then that she will play a prank on me and show up at my front door wearing one of those terrifying masks.
Even though The Strangers got me all riled up, I normally like paranormal stuff over slasher movies. Because I can rationalize the slasher movie things in my head. I am like, “Well, clearly, I would just call the police and not make any of the myriad of stupid decisions that these numbskulls just did.” But with the paranormal stuff, there is kind of no way to defend yourself. There are no rules. Ghosts aren’t held back by laws of physics. It’s anarchy. They’re just like, “Oh, you’re running from me? When you think you’re safe, I’ll just appear right in front of you and probably have the scariest face of all time.” Freaking ghosts, man.
I don’t believe in ghosts or anything supernatural in real life, which is why I love to suspend my disbelief and scare the crap out of myself on a regular basis. So when the original American Horror Story (Murder House) came out in 2011, I was like, “A show that’s like a horror movie? This is probably going to be awful, but I’ll watch it anyway.” And then it was BRILLIANT. Frankenbabies with hooves? I can’t even.
So now that it’s October again, I will get my weekly dose of terror thanks to the wonderful Ryan Murphy and the outstanding cast of this season. There will be witches and voodoo, snakes and crocodiles, floating ladies and pointy shoes.
To celebrate, I made these cupcakes. Cupcakes, because that’s what Constance brings to Violet in season one. But these are laced with almond extract and cherry filling, not ipecac syrup. I did stick some pins in them though, so hopefully I don’t inadvertently harm someone with them. And is it considered a deal with the Devil if you eat chocolate pentagrams? If so, I’m kinda screwed.
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (175 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) black gel paste food dye
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (150 grams) cake flour
- 3 tablespoons (30 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon white vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup frozen pitted cherries
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) sugar
- 2 tablespoons water, plus 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup (192 grams) vegetable shortening
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups (450 grams) sifted confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 50 grams semisweet chocolate chips
- 150 grams red candy melts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a standard muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners (preferaby black in color, but white will also work).
- In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour and cocoa powder (don't skip the sifting here; cake powder is very clumpy). Set aside.
- In an stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the sugar, butter, oil, black dye, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated.
- Add a third of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl on low speed. Pour in half of the buttermilk, another third of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl as needed and mix until just combined.
- In a pinch bowl, stir together vinegar and baking soda. Immediately add to the batter and mix until incorporated.
- Scoop batter into the cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn cupcakes out onto the rack to cool them completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch. In a small saucepan, combine cherries, sugar, and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a simmer over medium heating, crushing up the cherries a bit as they cook. When the cherry liquid begins to bubble, stir in cornstarch mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and add vanilla and almond extracts and stir thoroughly. Pour into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Let cool.
- In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat shortening and almond extract until soft and fluffy. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Frosting will be very stiff. Add milk one tablespoon at a time and beat until the frosting is fluffy.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and candy melts for 30-second intervals at 50% power, stirring between each interval, until completely melted. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip and pipe pentagram designs onto parchment. Pop the baking sheet into the freezer to set up.
- Cut out a divet in the top of each cupcake, making sure not to cut all the way to the bottom of the cupcakes. Spoon cherry filling into the holes. Load white frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe frosting onto the top of each cupcake. Place a chocolate pentagram on top of frosting.