Spiced Chocolate Orange Cupcakes, all dressed up for Hallowe’en

Chocolate Orange Halloween CupcakesI love Halloween. Not the scary, freaky Halloween of adults but the colourful, Nightmare Before Christmas Halloweenyness of children. The cutesy skeletons, cheeky ghosts, glowing pumpkins and the dressing up. As a child, we always had a Halloween party at Girl Guides. Guides was weekly at the Scout hut just outside the village. It was very creepy during the winter months when the hut, which was surrounded along most sides by scrubby woodland, was lost in the pitch dark evenings. We’d all get dressed up in old-school Halloween costumes, witches, vampires etc. I always went as Dracula as my dad, for some never discovered reason, had a proper black cape, complete with silvery chain clasp. Pop in a pair of plastic fangs et voila, Dracula! We’d run around, bob for apples and play games all night, I don’t remember much else. I know we never went out Trick or Treating, that just wasn’t really done in rural England back in those days.

 I get frightfully excited when I come across Halloween baking goods. I went into a cake shop over the weekend and they had a table piled up with Halloween cookie cutters, candy molds, paper cake cases and the like. I spent ages deciding what to buy, in the end I thought practically and got a couple of smaller things {I always have to think to storage, there is so little room in the van}. The little plastic skeleton candy mold was a must-have, my imagination ran riot.

These cupcakes would be perfect for a children’s Halloween party, the cakes are darkly chocolatey complimented with orange and spices. Spices familiar with hot cross buns or Christmas, comforting. You could leave out the orange and spices if you wanted a plain chocolate bun. They are pretty easy to make, the butter is melted meaning there is no creaming involved. In fact you don’t need any special equipment to make the cakes, just a wooden spoon. I’ve left the buttercream fairly simple, just a hint or orange and spice. I made these in an Aga, as we are back housesitting at the house I wrote the Blue Meringues post so I’ve included the oven details for this. I actually bought an oven thermometer so that I could be more precise about the temperatures.

We’ve been very since the Wedding. Most of the week has been spent in a damp wood, in the rain, as part of a film crew. We were helping a young friend make his first film, a 10 minute short. I was stills photographer and clapperboard operator. It was fun, despite the weather, far better than sitting around watching tv and we met some great people. I loved being part of a film crew, a possible new career perhaps!

Spiced Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Oven 180 C / Gas 4 / Aga roasting oven rack on oven floor with cold plain shelf on 2nd runners from the bottom

12 hole muffin pan lined with paper cases

  • 175 g unsalted butter
  • 75 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 200 g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 175 g self-raising flour

Gently melt the butter in a saucepan, take of the heat and stir in the chocolate. It should melt with the heat of the hot butter. Grate the orange zest directly over the pan if you can so that the orange oil sprays into the chocolate mix as well as the zest.

Place the sugar into a mixing bowl then pour over the chocolate/butter mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add an egg and beat in thoroughly, add the second egg and do the same, followed by the cocoa powder, sifting it in.

Stir in the orange juice then sift in the flour and mixed spice. Fold it all in with a metal spoon.

Divide the batter between the 12 paper cases, about 3/4s full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Spiced Orange Buttercream

  • 100 g soft unsalted butter
  • 50 ml milk
  • 500 g icing sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice {add more if you like}
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • orange food colouring, paste or gel ideally {optional}

Using an electric food mixer, beat the butter, milk and half the icing sugar for a few minutes until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar, beat in until fluffy. Add the orange zest and the mixed spice to taste. If you are using the food colouring, add it now. I used Wilton Orange gel colour, adding it bit by bit with a cocktail stick until the buttercream was the colour I wanted, pumpkin orange.

I piped the buttercream onto the cakes with a wide plain nozzle, I was a little more careless when piping the swirls to give a more random effect.

These cakes were decorated with white chocolate skeleton pieces. I found this awesome skeleton candy mold in a cake shop the other day. I simply melted some white chocolate then filled the cavities in the mold with it and left them to set in the fridge.

23 Responses

  1. mmmarzipan says:

    So cute! 🙂 I too used Wilton molds (but a candypick one that was actually “pirate-themed”, lol) for creating cupcake decorations this year

  2. Rose Taylor says:

    This is definitely a good idea for Halloween, but I can’t wait for Halloween to bake this. I am very interested how this would taste!

  3. Excellent! I’ve been wanting to make chocolate-orange cupcakes – thanks for sharing!

  4. You’re getting me excited for halloween!

  5. I love these, they look fantastic!

  6. Just about the cutest cupcakes I’ve ever seen. I’ll have to hunt down the source of you chocolate molds to make these.

  7. Brandi says:

    These are so adorable!! Love them!

  8. {Main St. Cuisine} says:

    How cool…thank you so much for the motivation (and the inspiration) to get started early. I’m the one running around a day or two before-hand trying to figure out what sweet treat to bring to the party. Beautiful photographs!!

  9. Dave says:

    Those are fantastic! Great addition to Halloween. And I love the story of Halloween parties back in the Girl Guides. My family did trick-or-treat every year and I was always either a pirate or a bum. I guess that’s not so politically correct these days, but they were cheap and quick costumes.

    • hahaha, trick or treating has picked up a bit over here in the last few years. I mostly lived Halloween vicariously through the Peanuts comic strips as a child, ah the Great Pumpkin!

  10. Perfect timing Rachel…Angie and I have decided to make Halloween a proper holiday this year, with a complete spread to rival Christmas. These will make a great addition to the table! Now I have to pick a costume….

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