Hot Cross Black Widows

Course : Halloween
Serves: 5
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---To make muffins:
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
---To make frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese -- softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter -- at room temp
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 drops red food coloring
5 drops yellow food coloring
5 drops green food coloring
5 drops blue food coloring
5 medium black licorice strings

Preparation / Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottoms, but not the sides, of 12 medium-sized muffin cups with the butter or margarine. Beat the egg in a large bowl with a fork. Stir in the vegetable oil and milk. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a small mixing bowl and stir together. Add to the egg mixture. Stir lightly until the dry ingredients are barely moistened. The batter should be lumpy. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins turn golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven, turn out of the pan and set on a rack to cool. To prepare frosting, mix cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar and continue beating. Add vanilla extract and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Put a small portion of frosting in a separate bowl and mix into it a few drops of red food coloring. Set aside. Color the remaining frosting, drop by drop, with red, yellow, green and blue food coloring until it is black. With a rubber spatula, spread the black frosting on top of each muffin. Then add a small red Black Widow hourglass to each one. Add legs to your spiders using licorice whip strings. You may need to cut the licorice into shorter pieces. Place arachnids on a platter and serve. You may want to decorate the platter with fake spider webs.

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