Dark Winter Night Indulgence: Chocolate-Orange-Walnut Cupcakes

“I like to peel it and share it with friends. You can spread the love with an orange.” Gina Rodriguez

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Christmas is coming…cosy evnings, cold outside and warm living rooms, indulgent hot drinks, sweet treats…There are many traditions around Christmas all over the world, and orange play a part in most of the places. Waves of European immigrants brought cherished St. Nicholas holiday traditions to the rest of the world. Over time these have melded into some common practices. If one looks closely, these reveal some distinctive characteristics of beloved St. Nicholas, like orange or tangerine in the toe of filled Christmas stockings….The gold Nicholas threw to provide the dowry money is often shown as gold balls. These are symbolized by oranges, so the orange in the toe of the stocking is a simple and tasty reminder of Nicholas’ gift. Bishop Nicholas learned of a poor man with three daughters who had no dowries and hence could not marry. The next night (here the stories diverge) Nicholas returned and tossed three bags of gold for the daughters’ dowries through the chimney which happened to land in the stockings of the three maidens which they had hung to dry in front of the fireplace. The bags of gold turned into balls of gold which are now symbolized by oranges. Bishop Nicholas is often portrayed in pictures wearing the red ceremonial robes and miter (or headdress) and holding the staff of a bishop as well as holding three gold balls, gold coins, or pieces of fruit.

Ingredients
For the cupcakes
100 g plain flour
40 g cocoa powder
50 g ground walnut (toasted taste better)
140 g sugar
1 tsp baking power
40 g butter
50 g dark chocolate, melted
1  egg
100 ml milk
For the glaze
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp sugar
For the chocolate and orange buttercream
125 g unsalted butter, softened
300 g icing sugar
100 g cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp milk (or a little more for desired consistency)
50 g dark chocolate, melted
1 orange, zest only

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Mix the flour, sugar, walnut, cocoa powder and baking powder together until combined. Whisk the melted chocolate, egg and milk together in a jug. Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the orange juice and granulated sugar together in a bowl. Carefully pour the orange juice mixture over the warm cakes and set aside to cool completely.
To make the chocolate and orange buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Carefully stir in the icing sugar, cocoa powder and continue to beat for five minutes. Beat in the milk, melted chocolate and orange zest. Decorate the cupcakes with the buttercream
Use a sharp knife to make chocolate shavings from orange and white chocolate and use them to decorate the cupcakes.

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“Small unexpected acts of kindness are the building blocks of greatness. Start your day with a smile and see where it takes you …” Edwin Lionel Flynn

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