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Candace Nelson's Tips for Halloween Treats, Plus the Best Dark Chocolate Frosting for Cupcakes

Sprinkles, Halloween Sprinkles

If anyone can turn cupcakery in to an empire, it's Candace Nelson. The pastry chef is the founder of the contemporary cupcake brand and its signature fondant discs, Sprinkles. Candace gives us a peek in to being a judge on Cupcake Wars, tips and tricks for Halloween and a recipe that might just have your guests weeping with delight.

You grew up in Indonesia and are part French, part American. How does that influence your cupcakes?
Growing up in Indonesia and around the world, I oftentimes found myself hankering for classic American desserts I couldn't get my hands on! Consequently, I ended up spending a lot of time learning to bake!   

Do you have a "soft-corner" for a particular cupcake at Sprinkles?
Dark chocolate is my favorite cupcake. Unless it's s'more season—we only offer this cupcake at certain points throughout the year.

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Sprinkles, Halloween Sprinkles

What is the strangest cupcake you were presented on Cupcake Wars?
I would say a cupcake containing globs of mayonnaise takes the cake!

You have wooed us with gourmet cupcakes and cupcake vending machines. Is there anything else exciting coming our way?
Yes!  We are working on a new dessert line we hope to launch early next year—but I'm sworn to secrecy! In the meantime, I can say that we are going to start shipping our cookie dough nationwide!

What will you be baking up this Halloween?
We are baking up spooky caramel apple cupcakes studded with granny smith apples plucked straight from the graveyard!

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What are some of your tips and tricks for Halloween cupcakes?
You can use Halloween candy to make spooky decorations! Spider Cupcakes: Add black licorice strings for legs and Red Hots for eyes. Grave Stones: Oreo cookies can become gravestones which you can pierce into a cupcake top. Then crush them up to make the "dirt."  Monster-toothed Cupcake: Cut up some marshmallows to become sharp monster teeth and use a little red gel coloring for blood!

Candace shared one of her go-to recipe for dark chocolate frosting—try this out for all of your deviously dark Halloween cupcakes!

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DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, firm but not cold
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate and beat on medium speed until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do not overmix or the frosting will incorporate too much air; it should be creamy and dense, like ice cream. Add milk, 1 teaspoons at a time, if frosting does not have a spreadable consistency.

Yum! What treats do you plan on whipping up to celebrate Halloween?

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