On Halloween, even your food can wear costumes! Serve dessert for dinner this year with these Spooktacular Halloween Meatloaf Cupcakes topped with mashed potato ghosts.
I‘m constantly reminding my daughters not to play with their food. They’re forever up to mischief — waving around olive-topped fingertips or turning asparagus spears into light sabers. I knew I was asking for it when I made these spooky Halloween meatloaf cupcakes since they’re an invitation for dinnertime antics, but I just couldn’t help myself — it’s almost Halloween!
In addition to creating an easy, holiday-themed dinner, this goofy, spooky meal provides the perfect solution for my long-standing meatloaf conundrum. I love meatloaf — its comforting heartiness, its simple preparation and easy clean-up, and its versatility of ingredients — but I almost never make it because it feels like it takes forever to bake.
Meatloaf cupcakes, though? They bake in about 25 minutes. This means you can have dinner on the table from start-to-finish in less than an hour. Since these little cupcakes are so easy to make, conjuring up some mashed potato ghosts is a simple step that adds, quite literally, the icing on the cake!
If you plan to bake and serve these immediately, you’ll want to start making the mashed potatoes first. This feels a bit backwards, but if you don’t, the cupcakes will finish baking long before you’ve prepped and boiled your potatoes.
Also, you’ll want to let the mashed potatoes sit a bit before piping them into ghostly shapes; I learned the hard way that piping hot mashed potatoes is nearly impossible to do without burning your hands.
If you’re thinking that these ghoulish cupcakes would be perfect for Halloween party except for the hassle of prepping them on the fly, don’t let that scare you off — you can prepare them ahead of time. I like to pipe the mashed potato ghosts on a baking sheet to refrigerate separately from the meatloaf pucks.
They take up less room this way and are less likely to topple over in your refrigerator. Before serving, simply transfer the ghosts with a spatula to the prepared cupcakes and reheat them in the microwave or oven. To fancy them up, drop the heated cupcakes into liners at the last minute (if you bake them initially in liners, they’ll get too greasy for serving).
Halloween is the perfect day for tricks and treats. Fool your own little ghosts and goblins by telling them you’re serving dessert for dinner. On Halloween, even your food can wear costumes.
Makes one dozen standard-sized meatloaf cupcakes.
Mashed Potato Ghosts
6 large red potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt, to taste
24 allspice berries (for eyes)
1 pound lean ground beef
4 ounces Italian sausage
1 small red onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup ketchup, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
Boil potatoes and garlic until tender. Drain and return the mixture to the pan, shaking over medium heat until residual water evaporates and the potatoes look dry. Reduce heat to low and add buttermilk, butter and salt. Stir until butter melts, and then mash the potatoes with a masher or ricer, working out all of the lumps. If desired, beat potatoes with the paddle attachment of a standing electric mixer briefly. Set aside to cool.
While the potatoes boil, combine all the meatloaf ingredients — reserving 1/4 of the ketchup to top the cupcakes — in a large bowl. Gently knead mixture with your hands until it is well blended. Do not over mix.
Divide the meatloaf mixture among 12 standard-sized muffin tins. Top each cupcake with about 1 teaspoon ketchup. Bake in an oven preheated to 350° F until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 160° F, about 25 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
When you can handle the mashed potatoes without burning your hands, scoop them into a piping bag (or zip lock bag with the corner snipped off) fitted with a large round piping tip. If serving immediately, pipe a ghost atop each cupcake, smoothing down the tops with a fingertip if needed. Add allspice berries for eyes. If needed, reheat in the broiler to rewarm the potatoes.
To prepare ahead of time, pipe ghosts on a baking sheet or in a deep container. Add eyes. Refrigerate ghosts and prepared cupcakes separately. Right before serving, transfer potato ghosts to the meatloaf cupcakes using a sturdy metal spatula, pressing down gently to help them adhere. Reheat at 300° for 25 to 40 minutes in the oven, or simply reheat in your microwave.
If desired, drop cupcakes in colorful liners before serving.