Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

8 Feb

It feels like ages since I last posted, but it’s actually only been two and a half weeks. Weird! You may notice that Cloudberry Dreams has had a bit of an image overhaul – it’s still a work in progress, but I’m definitely a little happier with the current header than I was before.

The Husband and I are in England (we arrived on the 26th Jan) and we’re still adjusting, really. It’s all been pretty full on; I study at university via correspondence (my uni is in Sydney) and I had an essay due this past Friday, so that added a bit of extra stress onto all the joys that moving (including the inevitable, scary and endless job-hunting) brings.

I’ve honestly been feeling so stressed and unsettled that I pretty much hit breaking point on the weekend and I thought, ‘I need to bake. I needneedNEED to bake,’ as baking really is one of the only things that I find to be theraputic when I’m stressy and anxious (oh, along with watching trashy TV. I’ve watched 15 episodes of The Only Way Is Essex over the last two nights alone. Don’t judge.), so I just needed to find an excuse to do so. I mean, let’s face it – when I’m sitting around all day, cruising job websites (why does that sound vaguely creepy?), the last thing I need is an entire batch of cupcakes at my disposal. Hello, weight gain!

And so, my friend/ex-housemate-from-long-ago, Jo, became the willing victim of my baking extravaganza. She’d mentioned months ago that she wanted to try my choc-mint cupcakes (she’s a choc-mint fiend), which suited me perfectly…except, her boyfriend is not a choc-mint kinda guy. Problem. Her boyfriend is, however, a choc-orange kinda guy.

Solution: make both kinds of cupcakes. Done and done.

The only hitch is that I’ve never made choc-orange anything, so I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to make it work. In the end, I decided to go the relatively safe route and follow my choc-mint recipe, but modify it along the way. I was pretty pleased with the end result, in all honesty. Think Terry’s Chocolate Orange/Jaffas, and you’ve basically hit the flavour nail on the head. The cupcakes themselves are lovely and moist, the ganache centre is oozy and packed with rich chocolate and orange, and the buttercream is silky and packed with chocolate-orangey deliciousness with real flecks of orange zest. Yum!

If you’re liking the sound of the choc-mint originals, head over here. If you’re more interested in the choc-orange variety, please excuse the terrible photos. I didn’t pay any attention to the weather today until I started baking, and then I realised: England in February isn’t exactly an ideal place to be attempting food photography. Lack of natural light = dodgy photos. Boo, hiss!



(The same base recipe as the choc-mint variation)

3 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

1 cup hot water

1 cup cocoa

1 cup cold water

200g softened butter

2 ½ cups castor sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

50 mL orange juice (used after cooking)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (that’s 340 degrees fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3 -4 for all you international folk!). Line two 12-hole cupcake/muffin trays with 24 cupcake papers.

Sift flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Then place coffee granules, hot water and cocoa into a separate bowl and whisk until well combined. Once the mixture has become a smooth paste, add in the cold water and mix until well combined.

Using the bowl from your electric stand mixer (or using a separate bowl if using a hand held mixture), cream the butter for at LEAST 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Once the butter has become creamy and light in colour, begin to add the castor sugar 1/3 at a time, beating for 2-3 minutes between each addition. After adding the final third of sugar, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and most of the sugar has dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition to combine. Then add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Add a quarter of the sifted flour into the creamed butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed setting to combine. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat in. Continue this process, alternating between the flour and cocoa mixtures, making sure that the flour is the final addition. Beat the mixture on low until thoroughly combined, while being careful not to overbeat – it’ll make the finished cupcakes tough and heavy!

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling the papers 2/3 full (this mixture rises quite a lot!). Bake for 20 minutes (though I’d recommend checking on them after 15 if your oven runs hot like mine does!). Cupcakes are done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Once cupcakes have cooled slightly, take a skewer and pierce holes in the top of each cupcake, being careful not to push through the bottom.

Carefully spoon 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of orange juice over each cupcake, allowing the juice to soak into the skewer holes. This will keep the cupcakes moist and add some extra orangey goodness. Winner!


3/4 cup heavy cream

200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped

50g butter, cubed

Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 orange

Place butter and chocolate into a bowl and set aside.

Pour cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing it to boil for 30 seconds before removing from heat.

Pour hot cream over the chocolate and butter and leave to sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir the ganache until the chocolate and butter are fully melted and the cream is well combined. Once ganache is smooth and silky, add orange zest and slowly add the juice, stirring gently to combine.

If the ganache becomes quite runny after adding the orange juice, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to thicken.


120 g dark chocolate

70 g salted butter

2 cups icing sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1 – 2 teaspoons orange extract

Using either a double boiler or a microwave, gently melt the cubed chocolate until smooth and silky. Once fully melted, set it aside and allow it to come to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on high speed for 1 – 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and extract and beat again for 1 minute.

Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and beat again for 2 minutes until fluffy.

Add the sifted icing sugar, 1/3 at a time, beating well between each addition.

Once the cupcakes are at room temperature and you’ve skewered them and poured over the orange juice, take a small paring knife and cut a cone shape out of the centre of each cupcake. Fill the hole in the cupcake with the choc-orange ganache and cut off the end of the cone so that you’re left with a flat lid shape. Place the lid back on the cupcake to cover the ganache, and repeat this process until each cupcake has been filled.

Frost the filled cupcakes with the Choc-Orange Buttercream (I used a large open star piping tip).


As a side note, today was the first time I’ve ever packaged up my cupcakes (or any other baked good, for that matter!) before giving them to someone. I have vague dreams about one day turning baking into a bit of a business, so it was fun playing pretend bakery today. I bought a cupcake box and did a quick, basic tag design on photoshop (nothing fancy, I don’t pretend to be any good at photoshopping!):

but I’m pretty pleased with the overall result. Jo was also suitably impressed, so that’s a plus! I felt so…I don’t know…professional, carrying my little wrapped box of baked goods around. It was fun!

7 Responses to “Chocolate Orange Cupcakes”

  1. marietlarsen February 9, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    That looks so yummy! and I am not even a big choc/orange fan 🙂 Also I am loving the label and packaging! I hope you are doing ok in England, hopefully it will start to heat up soon, I know what two winters in a year can do to a person:p


    • Jess - cloudberrydreams February 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks so much, my lovely! We’re doing okay, it’s taking a while to settle in and stuff though. I’ll be happier once I find a job!

      Are you and Iain heading to Norway at any point this year? We should try to catch up if you do! xx

      • marietlarsen February 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

        Hopefully you will find one soon:) just bring some cupcakes to the interview and you will certainly get the job:)

        I am not sure when we are going to Norway next, but we will definitely try and make it to England for a visit. xo

  2. Jo February 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    I was pretending to be all offended when I read fiend, but then I realised, I AM a mint choc fiend. THEY WERE DELISH

  3. Chelsea February 17, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Have another random question for you… what type of chocolate do you use/what brand (I’m from Australia)? I used a lindt dark chocolate for my ganache once and it was awful and extremely bitter – had to throw it out!!!

    • Jess - cloudberrydreams February 17, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Hi again! 🙂

      When I’m at home in Aus I tend to use either the Woolworths “Select” Dark Cooking Chocolate, because I found that it isn’t too bitter. I think it’s just a case of trial and error to find out what you like, really, and I think the main thing is to have a look at the percentage on the chocolate, too. The Lindt Dark Cooking Chocolate is usually 70% cocoa, which is definitely on the bitter side, so you might like to try one that’s between 40% & 60% cocoa and see what you think. If it doesn’t say the percentage on the front of the block, have a look at the back! 🙂

      Ask as many questions as you like, I don’t mind at all! x

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