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Mortarboard Cupcakes

Total Time

Prep: 20 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling


1-1/2 dozen

I made these cute cupcakes when my children graduated from high school. They are so easy and can be made with your school colors.—Margaret Hooper, Winchester, New Hampshire


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Food coloring
  • 9 whole graham crackers, halved
  • 18 milk chocolate M&M's
  • Black shoestring licorice, cut into 36 pieces (3 inches each)


  1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until combined.
  2. Fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring if desired.
  4. Level off the top of cupcakes; frost sides and bottom. Place upside down on a serving platter or covered board. Frost graham crackers; place one on each cupcake. Place an M&M's candy in the center of each cracker with two licorice pieces for a tassel.

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