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How to Make a Jack Skellington Cupcake Cake

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Turn the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, into a fun pull-apart cupcake cake. It’s perfect for Halloween, birthdays or even a humorous Christmas dessert.

Jack Skellington cupcake cake with solid white frosting background and black face formed over a base of chocolate cupcakes, ready to be pulled apart and eaten.

Jack Skellington’s face is a perfect way to decorate cupcakes for Halloween. Even artistically challenged folks such as myself can pull it off. 

Here are step by step directions to making your own nightmarish pull apart cupcake cake.

Cupcake cakes are one of my favorite party desserts. They are fun to make and easy to serve.

Everyone just pulls a cupcake off when they are ready. There is no slicing or serving required. Even plates are optional!

My husband’s birthday is just a couple of days before Halloween.  That is super convenient, because it is also his favorite holiday.

So we have always hosted a Halloween/birthday party for him. When we were younger they were bigger, later at night and more boisterous.

Now that we are old, tired and all of our friends have youngins, they have morphed into bags (aka corn hole) tournaments. That way we can all be safely tucked into beds at a reasonable hour.

I still like to do a little something to celebrate Halloween and his birthday though. Sometimes I make skull shaped cakes or his favorite chocolate dipped rum balls.

This year I opted for a cupcake cake. I love decorating them and they are always fun to serve.

There are a lot of great Halloween themed shapes you could do, but Jack Skellington is perfect for my husband.

dressed up in homemade jack and sally Halloween costumes from Nightmare Before Christmas

One of our first Halloweens together, we went as Jack and Sally. He loved the movie, so it made for a perfect couple’s costume.

I on the other hand had to watch the movie so I could know what he was talking about!  Nonetheless, it was super fun to create the costumes with my mother-in-law’s help. (She did most of it, under my husband’s direction of course.)

So I thought it would be fun to hearken back to the early days with a Jack Skellington cake this year. Luckily it was easy to put together too!

Circle of chocolate cupcakes ready to be frosted and made into   a cupcake cake.

The devilishly good chocolate cupcakes is a great easy recipe. You could also use any flavor of box cake mix you’d like.

Side note: am I the only one that can never get 24 cupcakes out of a mix? It just never stretches the whole way!

The circle doesn’t have to be perfect, just get a roundish shape.  If there are any huge gaps, you are welcome to fill them with marshmallows if you are worried about them. I tend to just leave the gaps.

piped circles of buttercream on cupcakes to make pull apart cupcake cake

Once the cupcakes are arranged, you’ll need some frosting. Cupcake cakes always take more than you would think.

I like to be super generous with the frosting, so that it easily fills all of the gaps. Plus I love frosting, so there’s that!

A double batch of classic American buttercream is a perfect starting point, or a batch of crusting buttercream would be great as well. I like to make it a medium consistency.

It should be solid enough to hold itself up in the cracks,  but still a nice spreading consistency. You’ll want to save a bit for the face details, but generously apply the rest.

Sometimes I like to scoop the icing onto the cupcakes with a large cookie scoop, sometimes I pipe it. To help get the round shape, this time I piped it using a large round tip.

Then the basic shape was already there.  All I had to do was smooth it out with an offset spatula.

adding black food coloring gel to chocolate frosting to make black frosting

Getting black frosting is always a challenge. It always seem like you have to use sooooooooo much food coloring.

 So I prefer to add some cocoa powder to the frosting first. That gives you a deeper color to start with and the bonus is it tastes like chocolate!

 Once you get a nice brown color from the cocoa powder, add black food coloring gel until it is just shy of your desired shade. Frosting tends to deepen a bit as it sits, so keep that in mind.

piping black frosting over traced lines on cupcake cake to start making the face details

I am not much of an artist, so I like to sketch the details in the frosting with a toothpick first. That way I can easily smooth it out and start over if I don’t like it.

Once I am reasonably happy with the design, I pipe it on in frosting. Smooth the bigger parts out with a small offset spatula and you are good to go!

This can easily be put together the day ahead of time if desired. I prefer to store mine at room temperature as long as it is slightly cool.

eeeeek you're 40 cake board with finished jack skellington cupcake cake

Luckily in the midwest October tends to lend plenty of natural chill. If your house is warm, you may want to store it in the refrigerator a least long enough to set the frosting.

Have you ever made a fun cupcake cake? I’d love to hear all about it. Share a picture on Facebook or Instagram and tag me so I can see it!

Turn the main character of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, into a fun pull-apart cupcake cake. It's perfect for Halloween, birthdays or even a humorous Christmas dessert.

For another fun pull-apart cake idea, check out the tooth cupcake cake. Or for individual cupcakes, check out the cute Frankenstein cupcakes.

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Tuesday 5th of November 2019

That turned out really cute.