Niamh Doherty

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

In Baking on April 26, 2010 at 23:03

Tower of cupcakes, anyone?

Flicking through my cookbooks this weekend, looking for a cupcake recipe on which to practise my icing, I stumbled across a recipe for Chocolate Cake in Rachel Allen’s Bake. Featuring a sinfully rich buttercream icing, when she mentioned that this could also be adapted for cupcakes, I was sold.

With my friend Dara’s (very good) taste in mind, I decided to play with the flavours a little and added grated orange zest to the icing. Before I’d even tasted the cakes themselves, a licked, icing-dipped finger had me rolling my eyes in paroxysms of ecstasy – it’s that good.

Making the cake itself is pretty easy – my butter and sugar could have been fluffier for a lighter cake, but overall I was happy. There is some folding-in of ingredients involved, but nothing too taxing. I used Dairy Milk chocolate, my old favourite, instead of dark chocolate, hoping it would counter the very dark cocoa that lives in my cupboard. Next time, I think I’ll use dark chocolate, or a mixture; the cakes, though tasty, could have been darker, I think. Rachel says that these quantities will make 12 cupcakes, but I half-filled my paper cases  – easier to ice – and got 18 in all. These are definite crowd pleasers – bring a plate along to a party to ensure that your glass stays topped up all night.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (adapted from Bake, by Rachel Allen)


For the cake –

125g dark chocolate

3 tbsp milk

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g plain flour

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate orange butter icing –

75g softened butter

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 tbsp cream (and have more to hand should you need to thin out the icing a little)

175g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder


1. Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius, Gas mark 4.

2. Put the chocolate and the milk in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until then chocolate has melted.

3. Beat the butter until very soft. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, before folding in the melted chocolate mixture.

4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda, and fold in gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into the your paper cases, half-filling each of them.

5. Pop in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before putting them on a wire rack to cool.

6. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate butter icing. Beat the butter, cream and orange zest until very soft. Gradually sift in the icing sugar and the cocoa powder, beating all the time, until it is all added. Continue to beat until very soft, then whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy. If you think that the icing is too thick, add another 5mls or so of cream at a time, whisking between each addition until you are happy with the consistency.

7. Ice the cupcakes by slathering on the icing, or using a piping bag and nozzle to create pleasing designs. Remember, these are small cupcakes, so they don’t need too much icing. Decorate with strips of orange peel, if feeling so inclined.

  1. I love the combination of orange and chocolate; it’s so simple yet so insanely delicious. I can never resist one of those chocolate oranges, and I’m sure that these taste exactly like that.

  2. I swear, I could’ve eaten this icing straight from the bowl, it was so yummy!

  3. oh those look so good, i want to reach out and grab one!!!! you seem like an incredible chef, and i would love it if you could give me some tips on my blog at ,

  4. how much caster sugar is needed? the recipe doesn’t say!

  5. Sorry Siobhan! I must have been in a rush when I typed up the recipe – I’ve amended it now. You need 150g of caster sugar.

  6. Hi probably a dumb question, but what sort of cream for the icing??

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