In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and anise.
Add sugar, molasses, and butter and mix until fully combined.
Mix in eggs, oil, and sweetened condensed milk.
Add milk and mix until just combined.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter on high speed with an electric mixer for three minutes until light and fluffy.
Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
Mix in anise and salt.
Pipe on cooled cupcakes.
Cut half of the gumdrops in half with a knife or scissors.
Cut each piece of rope licorice into 8 pieces. Trim the pieces so they hang halfway off the edge of a cupcake when placed in the center of the cupcake.
Place one gumdrop and the top half of one the gumdrop that were cut in half on each cupcake as the spider's head and body.
Arrange 8 of the cut licorice pieces around the body of each spider.
Dot each spider's head twice with decorating gel to make the eyes.
Anise is typically sold in the grocery store as seeds. Use a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle to grind it.Anise is not the same as star anise, so don't buy that for this recipe.If you don't like the look of the anise in the frosting, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of anise extract instead.Experiment with different color gumdrops and lace licorice.