February is fast becoming one of those months where I have a lot to celebrate. My blog turned two on the first of February. When I started Stasty two years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I would never have guessed that it would connect me with such a great bunch of lovely talented people, that I can now call friends. The one thing I have learned is that food connects us all, and cooking, eating and talking about food brings us all together.

It’s also my own birthday in February, which is another good reason to celebrate. When I was younger, I loved my birthday so much. I lived for the actual day. I loved the sense of anticipation, the cake, the party, and I was usually kind of sad when the day was over. As I get older, I have become a bit more reflective, I usually see my birthday as a time to look back and celebrate the previous year and figure out what I would like from the next year.

Nelius and I also got engaged in February, so we will of course be celebrating that too. As we both like an ‘Old Fashioned’ cocktail and I love cake, I came up with the chocolate old fashioned cupcake to celebrate all the great milestones in February. This cupcake is deliciously decadent with a hidden pocket of chocolate and orange ganache in the centre. The frosting is flavoured with aromatic bitters, bourbon, orange and garnished with a glistening maraschino cherry on top. There really couldn’t be a better cake to celebrate with this February.

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • ½ cup / 110g butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup / 100g cup castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups /200g of gluten free flour *
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup / 50g of cocoa
  • ½ cup / 120ml milk
  • Few drops of vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon

Icing

  • ½ cup / 110g butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and ½ cups / 200g icing sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of bourbon
  • 4 dashes of bitters
  • Zest of half an orange, finely chopped

Ganache

  • 100g / 3.5 oz bar of dark chocolate
  • 2/3 cup / 120 ml of cream
  • 1 tablespoon of bourbon
  • Zest of half an orange, finely chopped
  • 25g/ 2 tablespoons of butter

Decoration

  • Maraschino cherries
  • Orange peel, sliced into thin slivers and curled

Method

Cupcakes

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tray. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Leave aside. In a second bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla, orange juice, orange zest, bourbon and leave to one side.

Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. With the beater still running add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each egg is fully combined before adding the next one. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Keeping the mixer on low, then add half the flour mixture and half the liquids. Beat together, then add the remaining flour and liquids, and beat together until fully combined.

Divide the batter into the prepared cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minute. To test if the cupcakes are ready, place a tooth pick in the centre of the cupcake. Once the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the tin, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ganache
 
As the cupcakes are cooling, you can make the ganache. Heat the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a saucepan of just simmering boiling water. In a separate small saucepan, heat the cream until it is just starting to simmer. Add the bourbon and orange zest to the cream. Once the chocolate has melted, add the hot cream to it and leave to melt in for 5 minutes. Then add the butter and allow to melt slowly. Finally, take a mini hand whisk and whisk the chocolate, cream, and melted butter together until it has emulsified into a smooth thin chocolate paste. Leave the ganache to cool. It needs to be thick and fully cold in order to pipe.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, use an apple corer to bore out a small hole in the centre of each cupcake. You don’t want to go right through to the bottom, just about two thirds of the way. Then scoop out any remaining crumbs in your chocolate tunnel :) with a small spoon.

Icing

To make the frosting, place the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer. Mix on low until the butter has softened and melted into the sugar. Then, turn the mixer up and beat the icing until it is soft and fluffy. Add the bourbon, bitters, orange zest and beat the icing again. If the icing is too thin, add a little more icing sugar. It should be spreadable like a paste.

Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe the chocolate  ganache into the holes in the centre of each cupcake. Then, using a different piping bag, with a slightly larger nuzzle, pipe the frosting on top of each cupcake. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a curl of orange peel.

*These cupcakes are made with gluten free flour. I have a cupcake recipe with regular flour here  You could follow this basic recipe and then add the cocoa and other bits to it.