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A single vegan tombstone cupcake on a dark background surrounded by Oreo soil and vegan royal icing bones.

Tombstone Cupcakes For Halloween (Vegan)

Tombstone cupcakes for Halloween - these impressive chocolate graveyard cupcakes with gingerbread tombstones, cookie dirt and royal icing bones are seriously spooky, utterly delicious and totally vegan!
Course Dessert
Cuisine baking, vegan
Keyword cupcakes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author Domestic Gothess

Ingredients

Gingerbread Tombstones:

  • 100 g (3.5oz) coconut oil
  • 80 g (1/3 + 1/8 cup) light brown soft sugar
  • 50 g (2 Tbsp) golden syrup (or light molasses)
  • 25 g (1 Tbsp) treacle or molasses
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

Vegan Royal Icing:

  • 4 Tbsp aquafaba (the liquid drained from a tin of chickpeas)
  • 250 g (2 1/2 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
  • black gel food colouring
  • a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 270 ml (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) unsweetened dairy free milk (I use soy)
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 200 g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180 g (1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 75 g (2.5 oz) dark chocolate chopped
  • 75 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) vegetable shortening (such as Trex)
  • 75 g (1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) dairy free margarine (I use Stork (the kind that comes in a stick)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder sifted
  • 150 g (1 1/2 cups) icing (powdered) sugar sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oreos/bourbon biscuits/chocolate sandwich biscuits crushed - either in a food processor or with a rolling pin

Instructions

Gingerbread Tombstones:

  1. Start by making the gingerbread tombstones. Melt the coconut oil, sugar, golden syrup, treacle and water together in a pan over a low heat. Whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and bicarbonate of soda then stir in the plain flour to form a dough.

  2. Cover the pan and refrigerate for about an hour until firm. Shape the dough into a ball then roll it out thinly on a floured surface.

  3. Use a sharp knife to cut out tombstone shapes. They need to fit on top of cupcakes so make sure that you don't cut them too big; but they also need to be tall enough to push some of the length into the cupcakes - about 7-7.5cm tall by 4cm wide is what I went for.
  4. Don't worry about getting them all the same; it is good to have some different shapes and sizes. You will need 12 tombstones for the cupcakes but it is best to make a few extra so that you can pick the best ones. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more shapes (there is enough dough to make some extra biscuits)

  5. Place the tombstones on two baking sheets lined with baking parchment and place them in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

  6. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured around the edges. Transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Vegan Royal Icing:

  1. To make the vegan royal icing, whisk the aquafaba with an electric mixer until foamy then add the sifted icing sugar and whisk until thick and glossy. It can take a little longer than egg whites to thicken up but it is possible to over-beat it so be careful.

  2. The perfect piping texture is thick and smooth but still very slightly fluid. If it is too runny then you can stir in some more sugar; and if it is too thick then you can add a drop of lemon juice or water.
  3. Keep the icing covered at room temperature so that it doesn't dry out.
  4. Place a few spoonfuls of the royal icing in a piping bag fitted with a very small round nozzle (about 1-2mm) (or a disposable piping bag with just the very tip snipped off).
  5. Pipe small bone shapes onto a piece of baking parchment - use a little of the icing to stick the corners to a baking tray to make it easier to pipe.
  6. You will need about 3 bones per cupcake so I made about 50 of them to be safe (don't worry, they are very quick to pipe once you get the hang of it). Set them aside to dry at room temperature; mine took about 4 hours to dry out but it will depend on the temperature and humidity where you are.
  7. Place a few spoonfuls of the icing in a bowl and stir in a little vegan black gel food colouring to colour it grey. Bear in mind that the colour will deepen as it sits so aim for a couple of shades lighter than you want it to end up.

  8. Spoon the coloured icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle (about 1-2mm as before) and carefully pipe a border around the edges of the tombstones.

  9. Colour a couple of spoonfuls of the icing grey as before, but this time stir in a little lemon juice or water so that the icing forms a flooding consistency.
  10. Carefully spoon some of the icing inside the piped border of the tombstones. I use a small teaspoon to nudge it towards the edges so that the entire surface inside the border is covered.
  11. Set the tombstones aside to dry at room temperature for about 4-5 hours (or overnight).
  12. Once the tombstones are dry, spoon some of the leftover white icing into a piping bag fitted with the same small nozzle (I had some left in the bag from making the bones so I just used that). Pipe cobwebs onto the tops of the tombstones and your choice of lettering in the middle.
  13. The royal icing may become a little runnier if it has been left overnight; if it is too runny to pipe (mine was fine) then you can stir in a little extra sifted icing sugar to thicken it up again.
  14. Use a fine paintbrush dipped in black gel food coluring to paint some little cracks on the edges of the tombstones.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:

  1. To make the vegan chocolate cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

  2. Whisk together the dairy-free milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and instant espresso powder.

  3. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth but be careful not to over-beat the mixture.

  4. Divide the batter between the liners and bake for about 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. Melt the chopped dark chocolate, either in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water), or as I do in short busts in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together the vegetable shortening and dairy free margarine with an electric mixer until smooth, then whisk in the sifted cocoa powder followed by the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract.

  3. Beat the buttercream for a good few minutes until very light and fluffy then beat in the melted chocolate a little at a time.

Assembly:

  1. To assemble the tombstone cupcakes, spread a generous dollop of the buttercream on top of each cupcake. There is no need to be neat.
  2. Coat each cupcake in crushed chocolate sandwich biscuits to make the soil. the easiest way to do this is to put the crushed biscuits in a wide bowl, hold the cupcake over the bowl, pick up handfuls of the crumbs and gently press them onto the buttercream.
  3. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit into each cupcake where you want the tombstone to sit then carefully push a tombstone biscuit into the slit. Add more crushed biscuits around the tombstone and top each cupcake with a few of the dried bones.

  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

For the best results make sure that you follow the recipe closely. As always, I highly recommend using the gram measurements (with a digital scale), rather than the cup conversions. Cup measurements are simply not accurate enough for baking and I cannot guarantee the best results if you use them.