Remember when you were a kid and you would get those pudding cups with crumbled up cookies and gummy worms? Sometimes they were a Halloween treat. Other times they were given out to celebrate spring. The traditional worms and dirt treat is a rite of passage for many elementary school kids. There are tons of variations on it out there. I couldn’t help but wonder how it would be if you turned the worms and dirt dessert into a cupcake. ( Spoiler alert: it’s pretty awesome. )
This recipe for cupcakes from scratch has all of the best parts of the traditional worms and dirt cups. Not only do we use a chocolate cupcake but we top it with chocolate buttercream and stuff it with a chocolate pudding mixture. Of course, we have to top it with the traditional crumbled sandwich cookies and gummy worms. Of course, with all of our recipes, you can alter it by using healthy options for any of these.
These homemade chocolate cupcakes are a great option for a school treat or even an after-school snack that kids can have fun decorating themselves. You can provide a variety of bugs and critters for younger kids to pick from. Older kids almost always enjoy anything sour so super sour gummy worms are a great option for them.
If you don’t want to do bugs you could do cute little marshmallow tombstones or ghosts. Chocolate cookie mausoleums, or even a donut snowman depending on the season. You can find a wide variety of chocolate cupcake recipe options in our recipe box.
1 pkg chocolate pudding mix + milk as stated on box
Preheat oven to 350 and set butter out to soften as you combine dry ingredients for the cake. As always, sifting is best here to keep a light and airy cake. A whisk can be used in a pinch though.
Whisk applesauce, eggs, and sugar together in a separate bowl, or in mixer. Add vanilla to mix once fully combined and stir to fully incorporate.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Blend an additional 2 minutes on high, but do not over mix (that will give you dry overly dense cake)
Pour cupcake mix into lined baking tins. ( Only about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Overfilling will cause cupcakes that are too top-heavy)
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Watch the tops to crack open slightly.
Combine boxed pudding and milk as per box directions as cakes are cooking.
Cool cupcakes 10 minutes then remove from pan. Cool another 5-10 minutes before filling each with pudding mixture using a filling tip
Combine softened butter, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in mixer for icing. Slowly add milk to mixture until desired consistency reached.
Place chocolate cookies into food processor until coarse crumbs are created.
Frost cupcakes as desired and sprinkle with cookie crumbs for "loose dirt" effect.
Cut each of the gummy worms in half and decorate cupcakes as desired with worms. ( small bug candies or other gummies can be used as well) If you run into trouble getting worms to stick, put cupcakes in freezer or fridge to help set up icing a little.
If butter is used in place of applesauce 3 T unsalted butter can be used.
Almond milk or Soy milk can be used in place of regular milk.
My nerdlets had a lot of fun helping me with these. What kid doesn’t enjoy stabbing cupcakes and filling them with oozing delicious chocolate pudding? Don’t worry if you overfill them a little bit. That’s actually a good thing. They will settle a little for a while after you fill them. On top of this, you will be topping them with icing so nobody will ever know anyway.
If you are making cupcakes for a specific holiday you can use vanilla pudding and color it accordingly. It could be blood red or orange for Halloween or white for Christmas.
I’ll admit that this isn’t exactly the healthiest recipe available on our site. Sometimes it’s ok to splurge a little. If you don’t feel like indulging though there are plenty of ways to make this chocolate cupcake recipe a little healthier.
The great thing about having a cupcake recipe from scratch is that you can alter it to suit any dietary needs. You can use a sugar alternative if you prefer to. You can make almond flour cupcakes or choose to make vegan chocolate cupcakes instead. Once you learn the basics it gets a lot easier to make just about any recipe one that is perfect for your family.
There are a ton of great cupcake icing recipes out there that you can alter to meet your needs as well. Any good basic chocolate icing will work well with this cupcake. You are more or less just using it as a glue for your “dirt” so it doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to taste good.
You can choose a different cupcake filling recipe such as a cream filling or a fruity filling for chocolate cake if you don’t want to use pudding mix in your cupcakes. For us, this was a great quick and easily accessible option. It truly does add another layer of flavor and texture to the basic cupcake recipe so I would definitely advise against skipping it to retain the full effect of this cupcake.
Ghastly is a paranormal historian living in Arkansas. She writes on mental health, chronic illness, crafting (or at least trying to), and her love of cupcakes when she isn't herding cats or homeschooling her special needs daughter.