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Zombie cupcakes: Ghostly graveyard

From TV shows to the novels of Jane Austen, zombies have infested popular culture. Thanks to professional cupcake designer Zilly Rosen, a legion of adorable, edible undead are now emerging through the cracked frosting of that other irresistible craze – the cupcake.

graveyard cupcakes

Beady-eyed rats, fallen crosses and broken gravestones adorn any respectable graveyard. Those who are familiar with zombies know that just because they are buried doesn’t mean they will stay buried. These amazing brownie cupcakes create an entire graveyard when arranged together. Add a shovel filled with cookie crumb earth to make it look like you are still digging a grave!

Fudge brownie cupcake

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup white all-purpose, cake or pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


  • 4 gravestones (see below)
  • 1 cross (see below)
  • 3 ounces half and half, colored black with 5 to 8 drops black paste food coloring (see below)
  • 1/2 quantity dark chocolate ganache (see below)
  • 2 rats (see below)
  • 3-1/4 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1 shovel (optional)


  1. The day before, make the gravestones and cross decorations (see below). Also make the fences the day before so that they can dry. Roll out the half and half to make the cupcake toppers using a strip of acetate, 3 x 10 inches.
  2. Using a craft knife, cut the half and half into a strip measuring 1-3/4 x 8 inches. Make vertical cuts at 3/8-inch intervals along the entire length. You will need 16 strips in total.
  3. To create a fence section, place 3 black strips, 1/4 inch apart, on a clean piece of acetate. Cut off the top two corners of each strip to create a point.
  4. Use a small amount of water to attach a fourth strip at an angle across the three pointed fence posts. Repeat with the remaining strips to make four fence sections. Let dry overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 large paper baking cases. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add the butter and heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  6. Put the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat together using an electric whisk. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix together. Add the chocolate mixture and walnuts and stir together. Spoon the batter into the paper cases. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through baking, until the tops are set but the centers still slightly moist. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  7. To assemble the graveyard, pipe a swirl of dark chocolate ganache onto each cupcake, leaving some of the cupcake showing. Arrange the cupcakes in three rows of four. Place a section of fence on each of the cupcakes in the front row.
  8. Prop the gravestones on random cupcakes in the back and middle rows at angles. You can break a gravestone cookie and prop it in pieces so that it appears even more decrepit. Place the rats so that they appear to scurry around the gravestones and fence. Cut a slit in one of the cupcakes on the back row and carefully push the cross into it, leaning it at a slight angle.
  9. To complete the scene, sprinkle chocolate cookie crumbs around the graveyard to resemble earth. A shovel also looks great stuck in a cupcake, with extra cookie crumbs, as if it’s digging a fresh grave.

Up next: How to make the decorations >>

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