Munch a handful of Halloween cuteness with these Spider Cupcakes. Made with a gluten free chocolate sponge and topped with mint buttercream. I share my step-by-step guide to creating the friendliest and most delicious spiders ever!
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Gluten free Spider Cupcakes for Halloween
It had to be done! Gluten free Spider Cupcakes have been on my list for years. And with Halloween on the calendar, they’ve finally been created. Aren’t they just the cutest? With their cheeky faces and perfect little spider bodies, they’re sure to bring a smile to the faces of children and adults alike.
But it’s not all about the spiders… These cupcakes are also delicious… Made with a soft, moist gluten free chocolate sponge, I topped mine with a cool mint buttercream and extra chocolate decoration. That’s got to be the perfect combo right?
Are these Spider Cupcakes easy to make?
Oh yes! They may look spookily cute, but these Spider Cupcakes are really easy to create. And to make them as easy as possible, I’ve set out some step-by-step instructions below (with photographs), so there’s no confusion. Get the kids on board and there’ll be plenty of fun for the whole family.
Ingredients to make these gluten free chocolate cupcakes
The chocolate cake used to make these cupcakes is a pretty standard sponge with added cocoa powder. To ensure it stays super-moist, I’ve added a little runny yoghurt (or plain kefir) to the batter as well. A detailed printable recipe card can be found at the bottom of the post.
For the sponge you need:
- Plain gluten free flour blend – I tested the recipe with both my Gluten Free Alchemist home-mixed blends A and B (found at the bottom of my ‘What is Gluten Free Flour’ page). However, other good gluten free flour blends will also work well.
- Cocoa Powder
- Xanthan Gum (for binding). If you can’t tolerate xanthan gum, replace it with a scant teaspoon of ground psyllium husk.
- Baking Powder for rise. (If you have a preferred self-raising flour that you use for cakes, feel free to switch the flour + baking powder in the recipe and test with that. Although I would suggest adding an additional ½ teaspoon of baking powder to the mix as well).
- Caster Sugar (or superfine sugar)
- Vanilla Extract for depth of flavour
- Eggs – I use UK large eggs. To make the recipe consistent, I’ve also stated the weight of the eggs I use on the recipe card (both in shell and as liquid egg). Bear in mind that UK large eggs may not be sized the same where you are. So check out my Egg Size and Weight Comparison Chart if unsure.
- Plain Yoghurt or Kefir (the runnier variety).
For the Buttercream:
- Icing Sugar (aka powdered/confectioner’s sugar)
- Peppermint Extract (or alternative flavouring of choice)
- Milk – Just a drop to loosen the buttercream as necessary
Can I make Spider Cupcakes with a different sponge?
Yes… absolutely! If you have a preferred cupcake recipe (of any flavour), feel free to use it as the base for the Spider Cupcakes.
The particular sponge I used was as straightforward as possible. And other than the yoghurt (for added moisture) there were no ‘extra’ ingredients.
However, I know they would also be amazing with my Best Chocolate Cupcakes recipe (which includes ground almonds) and my amazing Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes sponge. Or for a twist, a Nutella Cupcakes version would be divine.
And if you’re not gluten free? Just use your usual ‘standard’ cupcake sponge recipe.
What do I need to make the spiders for these Spider Cupcakes? (& alternatives)
The spiders for making Spider Cupcakes use 4 main ingredients:
- Melted Chocolate – For the spider legs and to stick the eyes to the spider heads.
- Chocolate Balls for the spider bodies. I used Aero Peppermint Bubbles. But any similar-sized chocolate ball alternative will do.
- Galaxy Minstrels for the spider heads.If you don’t have these where you live, they can be easily substituted for something with a similar flattened round shape or for large chocolate buttons.
- Small Candy Eyes (usually found in the cake decorating section).
The only proviso on all of the above is to make sure the sweets and chocolate used are gluten free as needed.
Are these gluten free Spider Cupcakes safe for Coeliacs?
Providing they are made with a gluten free sponge and with safe gluten free chocolates, then yes… My Spider Cupcakes are good for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac). Just remember to check ALL ingredient labels for any risk from either hidden gluten or cross-contamination. If you are new to label checking, head over to my post on Coeliac Disease + Food for more information.
Can I make Spider Cupcakes that are dairy free as well as gluten free?
Yes. With a few careful substitutions, gluten free Spider Cupcakes can also be made dairy free. The changes needed are:
- Switch all butter for a good like-for-like dairy free alternative. (In the UK, I recommend either Flora Baking Block or Stork Baking Block).
- Use dairy free yoghurt or kefir in the sponge batter.
- Loosen the buttercream with dairy free milk.
- Find dairy free chocolate sweets and decorations. There are lots of options now available.
How to make the cutest chocolate Spiders
Making the chocolate spiders for Spider Cupcakes is pretty easy. Just make sure you have everything ready before you start. And assemble them on the cupcakes in the right order.
Step 1 – Make the spider heads
- Melt a tiny bit of chocolate in a very small bowl (either in the microwave or by standing the base of the bowl in about an inch of very hot water).
- Use either the thin end of a teaspoon or a cocktail stick to dab a spot of the melted chocolate on the back of each spider eye and position and stick them to the Minstrels (or buttons). Prepare and stick one eye at a time so that the chocolate doesn’t harden before the eyes are in place.
- Leave aside at room temperature for the eyes to set BEFORE assembling the spiders on the cupcakes. Do NOT put them in the fridge (this takes the shine off the Minstrels’ candy shells).
Step 2 – Melt the chocolate
IMPORTANT: add the buttercream to the cupcakes BEFORE you start assembling the spiders.
The chocolate can be melted in a heat-proof bowl in one amount for simplicity. However, if you want shiny chocolate spider legs, then it’s worth ‘tempering’ it. This is not hard, if you do the following:
- Melt about two-thirds of the full chocolate amount, either in the microwave (30-second bursts set at medium, stirring between each) or by setting the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. The melted chocolate should reach a temperature of about 40 C (104 F), which is best checked with a digital thermometer.
- Once melted, take off the heat and add the rest of the chopped chocolate. Stir gently until smooth. If you beat too hard, the melted chocolate may ‘split’.
- If there are lumps that don’t melt, pop the bowl back over the steam/in the microwave at a LOW temperature for 5 to 10 seconds and re-stir. Repeat this step only if necessary. The chocolate must not heat up, but it may need a little warmth to encourage the last melts.
Step 3 – Assemble the spiders
When making Spider Cupcakes, have all the sweets and melted chocolate ready. Once the spider legs are in place on the cakes, the spider bodies and heads need to be added quickly before the legs ‘set’.
- The easiest way to create the spider legs is to pipe them. This is best done using either a small piping bottle or a Lekue Decomax Kit. Alternatively, if you have a steady hand, you can drizzle the melted chocolate instead.
- Pipe 8 legs for each spider… 4 on each side, coming from a small, roughly central line and splaying outwards.
- Place a chocolate ball (body) at one end of the line of legs, gently pressing into the buttercream to secure.
- Take a prepared spider ‘head’ and (with eyes closest to the top) position at a gentle angle at the front end of the legs. Lean it against the spider’s body and gently press into the buttercream to secure.
How to store Spider Cupcakes
Your gluten free Spider Cupcakes should stay soft and fresh for 2 to 3 days after making them.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Do NOT store them in the fridge as this causes the candy eyes to moisten and for the black ‘pupils’ to run and discolour.
Ready to make gluten free Spider Cupcakes?
And that’s all there is to it. My gluten free Spider Cupcakes ready for Halloween. I hope you love them. The printable recipe card is just below (scroll an extra inch or two).
If you make them, please come back and tell me how you got on. You can leave a comment at the bottom, send me an email or contact me on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest). Don’t forget to tag me with any photos you post. I can’t wait to see your spiders!
If you love Halloween, we have more ‘novelty’ inspiration to share on the blog too…
- Halloween Cake Pop Spiders
- Pumpkin Mini Rolls with Frosting Ghosts
- Pumpkin Peppers (savoury)
- Halloween ‘Trick or Treat’ Rocky Road
- Pumpkin and Walnut Cakes (with spider web icing)
And for everything else, head over to our Main Gluten Free Recipe Index and start cooking!
Always shared with my love
Chocolate Cupcake Spiders
- 12 hole muffin tin
- cupcake cases
- microwave or hob and saucepan
- 150 g GF flour blend eg GFA blend A or B – See NOTES or alternative good commercial flour blend
- 30 g cocoa powder
- ½ scant tsp xanthan gum
- 2½ tsp baking powder (gluten free)
- 180 g butter (softened)
- 180 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’) Combined shell weight approx 204g (full batch: 175 to 180g liquid egg)
- 5 to 6 tbsp kefir/plain runny yoghurt
- 100 g butter softened
- 200 g icing sugar (powdered/confectioner’s sugar)
- ¾ tsp peppermint extract or vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp milk (approx amount) to loosen
- 12 Minstrel chocolate sweets or large chocolate buttons
- 24 candy eyes (gluten free)
- 12 mint Aero balls or similar round chocolates
- 60 g dark chocolate (chopped or callets) split into 40g + 20g if ‘tempering’
- A couple of extra pieces of chocolate to ‘glue’ the eyes
- Weigh and sift together the flour, cocoa, xanthan gum and baking powder. Set aside.
- Prepare a 12-hole cupcake tin by lining with large cupcake cases.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (170 Fan)/350 F.
- Using an electric whisk, cream together the softened butter and sugar with the vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl, until pale and fluffy.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat with a fork to combine.
- Gradually add the egg to the butter mixture a little at a time, gently beating between each addition until well combined. On the last two to 3 additions (or if there is any earlier sign that the mixture may split), also add about a tablespoon of the dry mix with the egg before beating through.
- Add the sifted dry mix followed by the yoghurt (a third at a time of each) and lightly fold through until all ingredients are just combined. Be careful not to over-mix. The batter should have a soft, dropping consistency.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases (no more than two-thirds full) and level the tops.
- Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes (large cupcakes (or less for smaller cakes)), until the tops spring back to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.
- Cool the cakes in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat the softened butter with an electric whisk until pale and creamy.
- Add the icing sugar a little at a time and beat well between each addition until smooth.
- Add the mint extract and a drop of milk to loosen (as necessary) and beat again until even.
- Spread or pipe the buttercream onto the top of each cupcake. Set aside.
- Melt one or two small pieces of chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl (the easiest way to do this for such a small amount is to stand the base of the bowl in about an inch of very hot water and stir intermittently until melted; OR pop the bowl in the microwave set at medium-to-low for 20 seconds at a time until melted).
- Get the candy eyes and Minstrels ready and one by one, dab a small dot of melted chocolate on the back of each candy eye (using a cocktail stick or the thin end of a teaspoon) and stick them to the Minstrels.
- Set aside to set (do not put in the fridge as this may ‘discolour’ the Minstrels).
Spider Legs & Creating the Spiders
- While the chocolate can be melted in a heat-proof bowl in one amount, it is worth ‘tempering’ to achieve a shiny effect…
- Melt about two-thirds of the full chocolate amount either in the microwave (30-second bursts set at medium, stirring between each) or by setting the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. The melted chocolate should reach a temperature of about 40 C (104 F), which can be checked with a digital thermometer.
- Once melted, take off the heat and add the rest of the chocolate. Stir gently until smooth.
- If there are lumps that don’t melt, pop the bowl back over the steam/in the microwave at a LOW temperature for 5 to 10 seconds and re-stir. Repeat only if necessary. The chocolate must not heat up, but it may need a little warmth to encourage the last melts.
- Once melted, either pipe or carefully drizzle the chocolate onto the cupcakes as legs – 4 lines on each side of a roughly central point, splaying outwards.
- Working quickly (the chocolate will set), place and gently press a chocolate ball (Aero Bubble) in-between and towards one end of the line of legs on a cupcake. Then place a Minstrel with eyes at the other end, leaning it at an angle against the chocolate ball.
- Repeat this process for all the cupcake spiders.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist