A few months ago my Mum sent me a beautiful orchid. I cared for it, I watered it occasionally, tried to give it the right amount of sunlight, yet it still died. I am useless when it comes to orchids. It’s been looking sickly for a few days. The flowers have been slowly dropping off and today, with a soft thud, the last one fell to the ground. We took it round to our green-fingered Chinese neighbour. With a flurry of appalled Cantonese he took it from our hands and attacked it with scissors, ripping up dried dead sticks. Apparently it was entirely beyond salvation.
While he was pulling out dead leaves, he told us about the plants he had bought for the lunar new year. He showed us blue and white shallow bowls full of bulbs of delicate yellow tet-a-tet daffodils, to bring new life in the New Year. He pulled limey scented leaves from a tree and explained how the citrus leaves are used to wash the house for the New Year. We learnt about the orange trees supposed to bring prosperity for businesses, and the oranges handed out for wealth.
Chinese New Year celebrations may be over, but the supermarkets around Hong Kong are still full of oranges. Any treat that brings extra luck can’t be a bad thing in my books. These Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are made with some of those oranges, and a little of the dark chocolate Anastasia sent me in my February foodie pen-pal parcel. These are very deep, dark little morsels. The chocolate cake is very rich, with a subtle, zesty orange tang.
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
115g self-raising flour
115g caster sugar
50ml freshly squeezed orange juice
30g cocoa powder
20g dark chocolate, roughly chopped into small chunks
zest of one orange
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add in half the flour and one egg and beat together, then repeat with the remaining egg and flour.
Add in the cocoa powder and beat until well combined. The mixture will now be quite stiff. Gradually add the orange juice, you may not need to add it all if the mixture starts to become thin and watery. Beat in the orange zest. Roughly chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and flakes, it doesn’t needed to be evenly sized. Stir in to the mixture.
Divide the mixture between 10 cupcake cases and bake in a moderately hot oven for about 15 minutes until firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely.
Mix up some rich chocolate butter cream, with lots of dark cocoa. Zest an orange into butter and icing sugar and mix it up with a little orange juice. Put spoonfuls into a piping bag and top each cake with a chocolatey, orange swirl.