Rich chocolate orange cupcakes

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This chocolate orange cupcake recipe makes an indulgent treat, injected with orange caramel for an extra gooey finish. The candied orange zest takes a little time to prepare, but makes an extra-special finishing touch for a special occasion.

First published in 2016




Candied orange zest

Orange caramel


Chocolate orange frosting


Begin by making the candied orange zest. Peel the oranges with a peeler into long strips. Trim the pith to a thickness of 1mm – any thicker than this and it will be too bitter – and cut the strips into a julienne of 2mm
Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the orange strips for 3 minutes. Drain and repeat
Bring 200ml of water to the boil with 200g of the sugar and add the orange strips. Cook until the strips become translucent and the water becomes a thick syrup
Drain well (the syrup can be reserved and used as a flavouring in cocktails) and toss through the rest of the caster sugar. Leave for around 15 minutes before dusting off any excess sugar and scattering over a tray lined with baking paper
Leave to air-dry for at least 24 hours, until the peel is crisp. Store in an airtight container until needed
To make the orange caramel, add the sugar to a pan and caramelise until golden brown. Add the orange juice, reduce to a syrupy consistency then whisk in the butter in 2 additions. Leave to cool and transfer to a squeezy bottle
Preheat an oven to 175°C/gas mark 4
To make the cupcakes, beat the sugar and butter together in a mixer
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and leave to cool before adding to the butter and sugar
Whisk the eggs and add gradually to the mixture until fully incorporated before mixing in the sour cream
Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and mix in the salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in 2 additions
Add the milk a little at a time until the mixture drops from a spoon
Divide the mixture between a muffin tin lined with 16 cupcake cases and bake for about 18 minutes, until a metal skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean
Remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Bring the milk and orange essence to the boil in a pan. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and once the milk is boiling, pour over the chocolate and mix together until glossy. Leave to cool
Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat for 1 minute before adding the icing sugar and cocoa powder in 2 batches. Fold through the melted chocolate mixture
Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle
To finish the cupcakes, inject about 1 tsp of orange caramel into the middle of each cupcake, top with the frosting and decorate with the crystallised orange zest

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

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