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Perfect for a Halloween party or any fall gathering, this clever owl creation is made from chocolate cupcakes with Almond Joys hidden inside—and it’s as easy to create as it is impressive!
1 box devil’s food chocolate cake mix*
2 tsp. almond extract
12 *snack-size Almond Joy candy bars, *halved
For frosting (or just use frosting in a can!):
*2 sticks butter, *at room temp.
4½ cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs. heavy cream
*Yellow, orange and purple food-coloring pastes, *like Wilton
¼ cup chocolate sprinkles
*2 bags (5 oz. each) Pepperidge Farm Toffee Milanos, *halved
2½ cups shredded coconut,_ chopped and divided_
12 thin pretzel sticks
12 Oreo cookies
*7 large round gummies, *divided
2 regular M&M’s
20 small round gummies
20 mini M&M’s
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Step 1: Bake cupcakes
Heat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, adding almond extract. Divide batter evenly among wells of two 12-well lined cupcake pans. Press 1 Almond Joy half into each cupcake. Bake 18 min. or until done. Let cool completely.
Step 2:** Make frosting**
With mixer on medium, beat butter 2 min. Beat in powdered sugar and cream. Increase speed to high. Beat 5 min. or until fluffy, adding additional cream if needed. Using food coloring, tint 1½ cups frosting gold, 1 cup purple and 1 cup orange. Frost 10 cupcakes gold, 5 purple, 5 orange and 4 white.
Step 3: Assemble large owl
Roll edges of 2 white cupcakes in sprinkles. On cutting board, arrange 14 cupcakes in rows, from top to bottom: 2 white with sprinkles, 3 gold, 4 gold, 3 gold, 2 plain white. Arrange Milanos on outside cupcakes of second and third rows for wings. Sprinkle 1½ cups coconut between wings. Add pretzels to plain white cupcakes for branches.
Step 4: Decorate large owl
Split Oreos, keeping cream on one side of 2 cookies intact. Scrape cream off remaining cookies; cut 11 in half and remaining into smaller pieces. Place cream-covered cookies on white cupcakes with sprinkles; using frosting, attach 2 large gummies and regular M&M’s for eyes. Add 2 Oreo halves for brows.
Step 5: Finish small owls
Using food coloring, tint ½ cup coconut purple and ½ cup orange; sprinkle on matching cupcakes. Add Oreo halves and pieces, small gummies and mini M&M’s for wings, brows and eyes. Cut 6 large and 11 small wedges from 5 large gummies; add to owls for talons and beaks. Sprinkle mini chips over coconut.
*Or try our Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes
1¾ cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder,_ sifted_
1½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
*1½ sticks butter, *at room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1½ cups buttermilk
To make: In bowl, blend first 4 ingredients. With mixer on medium-high, beat butter and sugars 2 min. Beat in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk. Use batter in place of prepared cake mix and follow directions in step 1 above.
Active time: 30 min. Total time: 1½ hrs.