Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin tins with paper liners or spray with Baker’s Joy® No Stick Spray with Flour; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until blended.
Add the boiling water and stir to combine (batter will be thin).
Divide the batter among the muffin tins, filling each 2/3 of the way full.
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cook in pans for 10 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the shortening, salt and vanilla for about 3 minutes on med-high speed.
Add the powdered sugar on low speed, about a cup at a time.
Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until your desired consistency has been reached.
Add food coloring, if using, and stir on low to blend.
Frost cooled cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 250°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a clean and dry mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
Add the cream of tartar and mix on med-high speed for 30 seconds.
Slowly add the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, until all has been added.
Continue to whip on med-high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until stiff peaks have formed.
Add the vanilla and stir to incorporate.
Place the meringue in a piping bag with a large round opening or tip.
Holding the piping bag straight over the baking sheet, squeeze out a large dollop of meringue. Add a smaller dollop of meringue on top of the large one, then finish with a small dollop on top, allowing the tip to curl.
Bake for 45 minutes.
When done, turn off the oven and prop the door open slightly. Allow the meringues to slowly cool.
If desired, attach candy eyes (use a little bit of frosting) or draw them on with black piping gel.