Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Salvation from my recent heartache has come in two opposing forms.  One is zumba.  For anyone who hasn’t tried zumba (and therefore hasn’t lived), it’s a form of South American dance which translates into an absolutely mental exercise class.  It’s a very liberating hour, dancing like a loon, falling tragically short of sexy in the moves and singing along out of tune.  Some days I have trudged into class with the weight of the world on my shoulders, but by the end of the first song I’m grinning like a gibbon.  Nobody can feel down during a zumba class.

The other salvation has been Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  I’d had one lingering in my fridge since Chinese New Year, waiting for the hour when I would not merely want it but need and deserve it.  That hour came the day after my break-up, when I thought I might never eat or feel happy again.  It immediately restored my appetite, and while the happiness wasn’t exactly instant, it did reassure me that there were still pleasures in life.

Now that things are getting better, I have broken out my other emergency Chocolate Orange and used it to bake these little treats (yes, I am currently living without a Chocolate Orange safety net).  I’ve been wanting to try Chocolate Orange Cupcakes for ages, and decided to adapt a Peggy Porschen recipe and add a splash of Cointreau to the icing for a bit of sophistication.  Whether you’ve got the blues, are anticipating some festive Chocolate Oranges, or simply fancy a treat, these cupcakes are the ones for you!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Makes 20, adapted from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen

Ingredients:

For the cakes:

125g plain chocolate

165ml milk

285g soft light brown sugar

105g butter, at room temperature

2 eggs, beaten

180g plain flour

pinch of salt

8g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1 orange

1 tsbp freshly squeezed orange juice

For the buttercream:

175g plain chocolate

250g icing sugar, sifted

225g butter, at room temperature

1 tbsp milk

1-2 tbsp Cointreau

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tin with paper cases.  Put the chocolate, milk and half the sugar into a pan and gently bring to the boil, then reduce the temperature and keep warm while preparing the other ingredients.

2.  Cream together the butter and remaining sugar.

3.  Beat in the eggs – don’t panic if it starts to curdle, the flour is next.

4.  Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb in 2 batches.  Add the orange zest.  Make sure everything is fully combined.

5.  Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and orange juice, mix well.

6.  Transfer the batter to a jug and pour into the prepared cases, filling two-thirds full.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

7.  Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8.  To make the buttercream, melt the chocolate over a pan of boiling water and leave to cool slightly.  Beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and Cointreau.  Add the chocolate, mix well.  Pipe onto the cakes, and decorate with a slice of Chocolate Orange, or a little orange zest for a splash of colour.

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