Chocolate Sugar Skulls & Dancing Bones

Let me spook you with Chocolate Sugar Skulls and Dancing Skeleton cakelets for your Halloween party table. The dark chocolate cake recipe is no simple decorative filler with rich, chocolatey ingredients. The vanilla buttercream frosting, although delicious, does an excellent job of bringing the skeletons to life (they almost dance!) and turns the skulls into a traditional sugar skull.

The Halloween season has such fun cake pans! You can find both the Nordicware skull pan and the skeleton cakelet pan at Williams-Sonoma.


I followed the Dark Chocolate Skull Cakes recipe that Nordicware has on their website — they turned out delicious! It has special ingredients that go a long way like buttermilk, fiori di sicila, vanilla and orange extract, and extra-dark cocoa powder.  My kids love orange flavoring, but if that is over the top for yours, just substitute vanilla flavoring.


Mix up a batch of vanilla buttercream frosting. My fave is from Jennifer Shea, it’s just so dang light and the right amount of sweetness. Can’t beat it. Divide the frosting into halves and add color. I chose two Americolor green and turquoise neon-ish shades to really highlight the skeleton’s bones, and turned the chocolate skulls into sugar skulls.

Fill a piping bag and use a very thin tip, such as Ateco Tip #2. I gave these guys teeth for the most part, and then just played with the eyes and the forehead (does a skull have a forehead? weird!).

Love them sugar skulls. I can’t wait to go to the big Dia de los Muertos festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Oct. 27th here in LA. It’s a huge day-long party that goes into the night with traditional costumes, face painting, live music, altars, dancing, food, and craft projects for the kids.

Decorating the skeletons was easier than you might think. The chocolate cake mold has the skeleton lines for you to follow.

Chocolate skull and bones for ya! Hope these guys will stick around long enough to see Halloween!


Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

chocolate sugar skulls
chocolate sugar skulls

Chocolate Skulls & Bones

By TheSweetNerd  

October 29, 2018



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 cup extra-dark cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicila

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon black food color, if desired

Vanilla buttercream

3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

Americolor dye

Piping bag

Ateco tip #2



1Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare the Skull Cakelet pan with baking spray or brush with butter and dust with cocoa. Whisk the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together.

2In a separate bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars together until creamy and lightened, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the extracts. Put the mixer on low speed and add the buttermilk alternately with the dry ingredients in 4 additions. Mix until smooth. Add black food color to desired shade if using.

3Fill pan no more than 3/4 full in each well. Tap pan on top of a cutting board covered with a heavy kitchen towel to evenly distribute batter and eliminate air bubbles from the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

4Allow cakelets to cool in pan 5-8 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Vanilla Buttercream

1In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Start with the mixer at the lowest speed, then gradually increase the speed, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl as needed, until the butter is light in color, is perfectly smooth, and makes a slapping sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. This should only take 30 seconds, but if the butter is cool, it can take a couple of minutes.

2Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix at the lowest speed until it’s fully incorporated before adding the next cup. When all the sugar has been added, scrape the paddle and the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat at low speed for 15 seconds. Increase the speed to as high as you can without making a mess, and whip the buttercream until it is perfectly smooth, creamy, and light, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl and paddle, then continue beating. At first the buttercream will appear to soften, then it will stiffen and increase in volume.

3Use right away, or store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, let the buttercream come to room temperature, then put it back in the stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to beat it until it’s creamy and stiff again.




  • These came out so well! I love how fun they are, perfect for a party

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      I am super ready to take them to a fun party tonight!

  • Jenna
    6 years ago

    These have to be the absolute cutest little skeleton baked goods I’ve ever seen.

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      So sweet. Thanks Jenna. I really appreciate those nice words.

  • 6 years ago

    These are so much fun! My fav Halloween treats so far this year! Just pinned them to my Halloween board. 🙂

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      Awww, please make them and let me know how they turn out!

  • 6 years ago

    These came out so cool and simple enough to make with the use of the molds!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      It is the best. I love an easy recipe for moms!

  • 6 years ago

    These are too cute! My boys would have a blast decorating these.

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      yes, I love it because the pan does the work for you!

  • 6 years ago

    Not only are these cute, but I bet they are so good they are scary!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      6 years ago

      Thanks Sara! The kids already gobbled them down.

Related Posts