Make these Jack Skellington Cupcakes if you are throwing a Nightmare Before Christmas themed party! (Or if you’re throwing a Halloween party – Jack is the Pumpkin King after all!) Vanilla cupcakes are topped with white frosting and decorated with a black bow and Mickey Ears featuring Jack’s face – iconic!
I’ve got 50+ freakishly good Halloween Recipes for you to try out – right-click and open these other recipes in a new tab so that you can read them after this one!
This post is part of the Crafty October series on The Purple Pumpkin Blog – a celebration of everything Halloween and Autumn. Now in its 8th year, the 2019 series is bigger and better, running from September 1st, all the way through All Hallows’ Eve on October 31st!
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Jack Skellington Cupcakes
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies to watch at Halloween… or at Christmas! And if you are the same then you are going to love these cupcakes. If you are planning an NBC party then I’ve got a whole set of themed party printables that you can download and use for your party too!
The Jack cupcakes are simple to make using a box of cake mix, which means you can focus on the Mickey Ears decorations which are not as difficult to make as you might think.
Ingredients used in this recipe
The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here is a brief outline so you know what to expect from the recipe. I highly recommend always reading a recipe all the way through before starting.
- Fondant (Sugarpaste) in the following colors:
- Edible Marker Pen in the following color: Black
- Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar) – for dusting and in the frosting
- French Vanilla Cake Mix – the usual box ingredients are replaced with whole milk, eggs, and butter.
- Heavy Whipping Cream (Double Cream)
- Vanilla Extract
Equipment used in this recipe
You are likely to have many of these cooking tools in your kitchen already, but I’ve added some Amazon links for your convenience should you need to purchase anything for this recipe.
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Wilton Bow Mold (from Michaels in the US) or a silicone bow mold from Amazon
- 4″ round cutter
- 2″ round cutter
- Fondant Rolling Pin
- Cupcake pan
- Cupcake liners
- Piping Bag
- Large Star Tip – Wilton 1M
- Wire Cooling Rack
- Ice Cream Scoop – this helps to scoop cupcake batter evenly. Get one with a trigger mechanism.
- Electric Mixer – stand or handheld
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Jack Skellington Cupcake Recipe Tips
If you have never worked with fondant before, don’t panic – it is really easy to use, follow my tips and you’ll be just fine!
- Dust your work surface with powdered sugar so that the fondant doesn’t stick. Think of it like the way you use flour when rolling out dough.
- Rub a little powdered sugar into your hands and knead a handful of the fondant to make it more pliable before rolling, rather than using straight from the package.
- Dust your rolling pin too, and roll fondant to about ¼” thick. Some fondant rolling pins have guides you can use. You don’t want it too thick as it will take ages to dry, and you don’t want it too thin as it will become more tricky to work with.
- Cutting the Ears: Pour a little pile of powdered sugar onto your surface and dip the cookie cutter into it before cutting the ears – again, this is to prevent sticking.
- Molding the Bows: Use about one tablespoon of fondant and press it into a bow mold. Carefully remove and place on a cookie sheet to dry for at least 6 hours. Again, 24 hours is best.
- If there is excess powdered sugar on the pieces, you can gently brush away with a pastry brush, or an unused, clean paintbrush.
- Alternatively, you can use a vodka spray. Pour some vodka into a mini spray bottle and gently mist the fondant wings. Vodka dries quicker than water which is why it is usually used when handling fondant.
- Always make extra pieces – that way if some break or you have another mishap, you have got backups that you can use.
- Leave the cut fondant pieces to harden in a cool, dry place – do not place in the fridge.
- The fondant pieces should be solid enough to handle and insert into the cupcakes after 3 – 6 hours. I personally leave fondant pieces to dry for around 24 hours. How long this takes, however, is based on the size and thickness of the fondant, and how humid your house is, so judge best if they will hold up as they need to in the cupcakes.
- When making cakes or cupcakes that use fondant decorations I like to make them a few days ahead of time which allows for drying without the stress. Fondant that isn’t dry enough can mean disappointing end results.
- After using fondant the surface will be super sticky (it always is in my experience!) so you will probably have to wipe away the sugar first, then give it a soapy hot wash over and then another clean over! You can always by a fondant rolling mat for easier cleanup!
Jack Skellington’s Face
- Overall, these cupcakes are easy to make, however, you need a little bit of skill to draw Jack’s face onto the white parts of Mickey’s ears. Jack has got several different facial expressions and you can use any that you like. Search online and find one that you feel you can copy.
- Make sure that the white ears are well dried before you draw Jack’s face on them with an edible marker pen.
Cupcakes & Frosting
- French vanilla cake is also a vanilla cake, but with a more distinct flavor. If you can’t find a French vanilla cake mix, a box of the regular vanilla will be fine to use.
- Instead of the extra ingredients required to make the cake as directed on the box, this recipe replaces them with whole milk and unsalted butter (plus eggs as usual) which will enrich the cake further.
- Use a trigger ice cream scoop to transfer the cupcake mixture to the liners. This ensures you get even cupcakes.
- Food Coloring Tips: Use good quality food coloring gel or paste as the color will be more vibrant. Do not use liquid color as this will change the consistency of the cake batter, and really won’t taste good!
- Remember that you can always add more color, but not take it away. Add a little to start with and add more to get the shade required.
- If you are not confident with your piping skills you can practice on some parchment paper first and scoop the frosting back into the bag.
- If your piped swirl doesn’t turn out how you want it on the cupcake, you should be able to wipe it off and try again!
Make It A Meal!
You’ve made the dessert, but what about the rest of the courses? Here are some recipes to take a look at to make a complete meal!
- Appetizer: Bloody Mary Soup (vodka optional)
- Main Dish: Mummy Meatballs
- Cocktail: Hocus Pocus Cocktail
- Mocktail: Oogie Boogie Mocktail
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy! Please feel free to check them out too.
More Halloween Desserts
Need more dessert recipes for Halloween parties? Check these out:
- Easy Pumpkin Cake with Frosting & Sprinkles
- Jack Skellington Mickey Mouse Rice Krispies Treats for Halloween
- Easy Candy Coated Baked Spiced Pumpkin Donuts Recipe
More Cupcakes Recipes
Want to make more cupcakes? Try these recipes:
I’ve got lots of fun and easy Cupcake Recipes for Parties and celebrations (and for everyday treats!) for you to try out – right-click and open these other recipes in a new tab so that you can read them after this one!
For the Cupcake Decorations
- 2 package (4.4oz/124g) black fondant
- 1 package (4.4oz/124g) purple fondant
- Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar)
- Black edible marker
For the Cupcakes
- 1 box French vanilla cake mix
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
For the Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 5 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar
- 10 Tbsp heavy whipping cream (double cream)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the fondant Mickey ears, dust your surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out the black fondant to ¼" thick. Cut out 24 x 4" circles with a round cutter. Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- To make the fondant Jack faces dust your surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out the white fondant to ¼" thick. Cut out 24 x 2" circles with a round cutter.
- Attach the white circle to the black circle by brushing some water over the back of a white circle and sticking in the middle of the black one. Repeat for all the ear pieces and leave to dry for at least 6 hours, and up to 24 hours if possible.
- To make the bows, use about one tablespoon of black fondant and press it into a bow mold. Carefully remove and place on a cookie sheet to dry for at least 6 hours. Again, 24 hours is best. Make 12 bows in total (with a few extras as before!).
- Make a few extra fondant decorations as backup, just in case!
- When the ears are dried, draw Jack's face on with a black edible marker.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 degrees and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- Using an electric mixer, mix the cake mix with the milk, eggs, and softened butter until combined.
- Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cupcake.
- Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla on medium speed until combined and smooth.
- Scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
- Pipe frosting swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
- Place the bow in the middle of the frosting.
- Place the Mickey ears on either side of the bow.
Make the fondant ears and bows at least 6 hours in advance (or 24 hours if you can) so that they can harden for use.
You will also need the following tools for decorating the cakes:
- silicone bow mold
- 4" round cookie cutter
- 2" round cookie cutter
- Large piping bag
- Large star tip (Wilton 1M)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 754Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 595mgCarbohydrates: 104gFiber: 1gSugar: 85gProtein: 4g
This site uses an outside source (Nutritionix) to provide estimated nutrition. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
The Crafty October series on The Purple Pumpkin Blog is filled with free printables, crafts, recipes, and more for Halloween and Fall! You can check out Crafty October from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012 for tons of awesome Halloween ideas and inspiration!