Duncan Hines Halloween Contest! Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes


First off, I will apologize for this very tardy post. I baked these a little over two months ago and haven’t really touched the photos until last night. Duncan Hines held a Halloween baking contest where you use their products to bake Halloween themed goodies. I was going to go the cakepop route but decided to go for simple really simple instead. 
Look at their cute little faces!!! *NOM!*

I probably baked about 3 batches of cupcakes, adjusting measurements and ingredients each time until I reached something I was remotely satisfied with. Still, I’m not in love with this recipe so please feel free to critique away & fidget with it yourselves!! :D

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

1             Duncan Hines Fudge Marble Cake Mix
3            eggs
1/3 cup  oil
1 cup     milk
2 tbsp   milk
1/2 cup  canned pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp   cinnamon
1/6 tsp   ground ginger
1/6 tsp   ground nutmeg
1 jar       Marshmallow Fluff / Crème
1/4 cup  Reese’s Pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Line 2 muffin trays with paper liners.
  2. Whisk main cake mix, eggs, and 1 cup milk in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
  3. Transfer 1 ½ cups of the batter to another mixing bowl.
  4. To it, add in the 2 tbsp of milk and the cocoa packet from the cake mix.
  5. Stir until well combined and there are no more lumps of cocoa.
  6. To the remaining batter in the large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir until well combined.
  7. Fill each liner 3/4 full. Use cocoa batter on the bottom and top it with the pumpkin batter.
  8. Bake 20-25 min, rotating halfway, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes come out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven; let cool 10 min before removing cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. Top cupcakes with some Marshmallow Fluff and brown with a kitchen torch until a crust has formed or broil for 5 min for a similar effect. Top with a couple of Reese’s Pieces for eyes. Serve Immediately.
NOTE: You can substitute 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie filling for the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. 

I was really stuck on what I wanted to bake. For the longest time I wanted to do some sort of play on candy corn but that didn’t work out too well. In the end, the 1/3 chocolate, 2/3 pumpkin ratio worked the best. Here are my ingredients all laid out nicely. :)

Start by following the regular instructions: beat eggs, add milk & oil, alternating with packed dry ingredients. 

The batter is then split. 1½ cups of batter is set aside for the chocolate portion of the cupcakes. 

The remainder gets pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg! Smells very yummy already.

Time to fill the muffin tins (already lined with paper cups). This photo is from my second attempt where I started experimenting with marshmallows. I tried immersing chunks in the batter, simply placing them on top...marbling the batter, etc. 

In the oven they go for 20-25 minutes! And they come out looking like this! 

Or this. Realized the marbling only worked aesthetically but taste-wise, you miss the chocolate completely. So that option is off the table. Here’s one with I plunked some of the chocolate batter on top haha

With the final batch, I tried two kinds of “decoration”. As I let go of the whole candy corn idea, I was even more reluctant to give up on marshmallow and the whole campfire, scary stories direction. So I tried piping marshmallow fluff atop the cupcakes, popped them in the broiler for a bit, then topped them with Reeses Pieces for eyes. Cute! But the marshmallow fluff sorta melts after a bit… :( 

The other, very very generic idea was plain old frosting. I used Duncan Hines’ homestyle buttercream for this…hey! Don’t “tsk” me! The contest is hosted by them! haha I used food colouring, then divided the buttercream within the piping bag to get this twist of colour. 
Very very simple cupcake.

Interested in seeing how I tried to go about the whole “candy corn” (failed) idea?! I’ll show a few photos of that initial trial :D Three colours. These aren’t exactly accurate but the idea was chocolate-pumpkin-vanilla. Darker-medium-light. 

They turned out…okay? Taste-wise though, lacking because there wasn’t much distinction between the three layers. Here’s also the first attempt with marshmallows. I tried them chopping up to create jack o’ lantern-like faces (broiled for the toastiness) then spread orange icing around. Meh. 

Okay if that doesn’t work, then how about just plonking sliced marshmallows, broil then serve?! You get that initial crunch (snap in the paper-thin crust) of the marshmallow then the softness. Problem was, this crust would soften after half an hour which meant a no-go. 

All I have to say is that recipe developers have their work cut out for them. It’s not that easy re-creating classics, revamping them, or completely overhauling, putting them on their heads sort of thing. Thanks for putting in all that effort, time, and resources into developing the PERFECT recipe!! :D 
how much cocoa to use?!?! Then I remembered the Duncan Hines "Marble Cake Mix". Problem solved.

Yes, I did have fun testing my ideas out. But trying to make the recipe as simple as possible while utilizing ingredients that one would normally find in a kitchen—very challenging. Good experience though! 

2.5 out of 5 NOMs


  1. I like the marshmallow one! Despite the crust not lasting I think it would taste great to just eat immediately. thanks for the idea! :)

  2. haha thanks! Although, I only used marshmallow fluff to make the recipe simpler. To get a better effect, you should use a kitchen torch on piped meringue ;)

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