1 cup cherry or raspberry preserves, strained, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
5. Meanwhile, make the caramel: Bring granulated sugar and water to a boil in a small high-sided saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until mixture just starts to turn pale gold around edges. Remove from heat, and immediately pour caramel onto a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, tilt pan to spread caramel to edges to make a very thin layer. Let cool to harden.
6. Make the frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy and spreadable.
7. Frost each cupcake using an offset spatula. Twist pan to release and break caramel in order for it to resemble broken glass. Place a shard or 2 of caramel "glass" in the center of each cupcake. Drizzle or pipe cherry preserves where caramel has entered the cupcake.
For busy mothers: Here is a faster way to make this recipe. Purchase a box of Red Velvet Cake Mix, a container of Cream Cheese Frosting or any white frosting and then just make the caramel glass bits for the top yourself.
The Halloween Cookbook http://thehalloweencookbook.com/
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