Chocolate orange cupcakes for grown ups with decorating ideas for all levels

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What’s your favourite cupcake? This week I’ve been deciding what I should bake for a great competition run by the people at Betta Living. They are looking for exciting cupcake recipes in the run up to National Cupcake Week 15th – 21st September. Surprisingly perhaps my favourite cupcakes aren’t vanilla, although you’d be forgiven for thinking they were considering how often I use my vanilla cupcake recipe. My favourite cupcakes to make are chocolate orange cupcakes, in fact the only reason I don’t make them more often is that I eat far to many of them when they’re in the house! Instead of frosting I use a white chocolate ganache on top and decorate with a variety of chocolate and fondant decorations. Last year I made Cointreau truffles to go on top of the cupcakes, this year I’m using the same cointreau and dark chocolate ganache I used in the truffles but I’m putting it actually inside the cakes, which is what makes them just for grown ups. Below you’ll find the recipe for my cupcakes and the ganache but first here are also some ideas for decorating the cupcakes – whether you’re a complete novice or more experienced there’s an idea to love; because autumn is on it’s way I’ve done a couple of seasonal designs, as well as the yummy dark chocolate decorations.

9 decorating ideas with something for all levels:

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1. Sprinkled home made (or bought) chocolate chips

2. Tempered dark chocolate hearts

3. Tempered dark chocolate leaf

4. Fondant autumn leaves

5. Tempered chocolate writing

6. White and dark chocolate ganache stars

7.Fondant pumpkin

8. Fondant flower cascade with sugar pearls

9. Embossed fondant.


For the cupcakes:

250g castor sugar

cupcake batter Collage250g unsalted butter (softened)

4 eggs beaten

4 tsp orange extract

200g self-raising flour

50g good quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)

1/4 (quarter) tsp baking powder

zest of 2 oranges

25 – 50ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 180c

Makes 15 larger cupcakes or 24 small cupcakes

  • In a free standing mixer cream the butter and sugar
  • Add the orange extract to the egg and slowly add to the butter cream while still mixing. If needed add a spoonful or two of the flour to help it combine.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa powder and flour then add to the egg mix and mix until smooth.
  • Stir in the orange zest
  • Add the milk until the mixture drops easily from a spoon – you may not need all of it.
  • Place in cupcake cases and bake at 180c for either 15 minutes for small cupcakes or 18 minutes for larger cupcakes.

For the dark chocolate decorations and cointreau ganache filling

chocolate decorations collage 3200g Extra Dark Chocolate

50ml room temperature double cream

Cointreau to taste (for me about 1 shot glass full)

  • Melt 2/3 of the dark chocolate in the microwave using 10 second bursts, stirring each time. The idea is to keep the chocolate as cool as possible while getting it to melt.
  • Once the chocolate has melted place in a large bowl, break the remaining 1/3 of dark chocolate into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate. Stir continuously until the solid chocolate has melted and the chocolate feels cool when touched to your lip. This is the seeding method of tempering chocolate.
  • Place the chocolate in a piping or sandwich bag and cut off the corner, pipe some shapes onto foil or grease proof paper to use later for decoration. You could do anything from drops of chocolate to chocolate writing.
  • Place the remaining tempered chocolate back into the large bowl and stirring the room temperature cream. Mix until smooth then add the cointreau, testing to check you are happy with the flavour as you go. (It’s a hard life!)
  • Place the ganache in a piping bag with a filling nozzle and inject the filling into the cooled cupcakes.

For the white chocolate ganache:

50ml room temperature double cream

200g  White Chocolate

  • Melt the white chocolate in the microwave using 10 second bursts, stirring each time. The idea is to keep the chocolate as cool as possible while getting it to melt. Once the chocolate begins to melt simply continue to stir until all the remaining lumps are melted by the already melted chocolate.
  • Stir in the room temperature cream and keep stirring until the ganache thickens – it the ganache seems too stiff add a little more cream.
  • Leave to cool, stirring regularly until the ganache is thick enough to be piped.

This post is my entry to the Betta Living “Betta bake a cupcake” #bettabakeoff competition to celebrate National Cupcake Week which runs from 15-27 September. The lovely people at  Betta Living are giving away £750 in gift vouchers for the most creative cupcake recipe with one runner-up also receiving £250 in vouchers. So if you have your own blog why not get baking? You can find full details here.

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