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Chocolate Cupcakes with Spiced Orange Glaze

Christmas is a time for reflection, peace, joy, family and chocolate. What other time of the year do we have the excuse to celebrate every day? 

From advent, up until Christmas, and even after boxing day, there is still the new year to look forward to. This celebration comes with a lot of cooking responsibility for some, but while lots of eating require lots of cooking, this is the perfect opportunity to cook or bake together. 

This spiced orange glaze is a lovely addition to a sumptuos chocolate cake. The sweetness of the cake and the citrus flavours are perfectly balanced creating a rich burst of flavours. Although I guaranteed, it will be a crowd pleaser, I cannot guarantee, it will last, so make lots and lots. 

What are you eating, now and for the holidays?

Preparation time: 5 – 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes 20 cupcakes or two 20cm cakes 


300g plain flour

200g caster sugar

100g dark brown sugar 

100g cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

3 tbsp. cinnamon

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 eggs

300ml warm milk

150ml olive oil

3tsb vanilla extract

300ml hot water

table spoon melted butter, for greasing

Let’s get cooking!

Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Grease your cup cake tins with melted butter.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs rigorously until fluffy. A hand whisk is perfectly alright.
In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar cinnamon and cocoa powder. This makes for a lighter batter with no lumps.

Add the oil, vanilla extract, warm milk and add the hot water a little at a time into the bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until all ingredients are fully incorporated. But be careful not to over mix. Don’t be alarmed as the batter should be very runny but still thick.

Use an ice cream scoop to pour the mix into the cupcake tins.
Check the cake after 15 minutes by inserting a toothpick into it. If it comes out with we cake mix on it then continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. Then check again. Once done the toothpick should come out clean.

Take the tins out of the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes.


Chocolate and citrus is a wonderful combination. Oranges in particular are sweet and tart creating the most wonderful aroma and flavour when cooked with spices and aromatic like cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Try this orange glaze for naked sponge cakes and also underneath your chocolate glaze for a surprising citrus burst of flavour.


Cooking time: 15 minutes

Juice from 4 oranges, save the squeezed oranges

Zest from two oranges

1 star anise

1 stick of cinnamon / ½ tsp of ground cinnamon

A few cardamom pods

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp grated nutmeg

4 tbs golden castor sugar

To make the spiced orange syrup, combine the juice of four oranges, the squeezed oranges, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom pods, ginger, nutmeg and 400ml of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Do not add the lemon zest and sugar at this stage.

If you struggle to find all the above ingredients, substitute them with two tablespoons of allspice. Stir and leave to simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. 

Cooking the whole oranges will ensure the extraction of maximum juices and oils from the fruit. Strain the contents using a sieve and pour the liquid back into the saucepan. Add the lemon zest and sugar. Stir and simmer in low heat for 5 minutes or until you achieve a syrupy texture. Take off the heat.

Once your cake is cooled you can glaze it with your spiced orange syrup. Use a toothpick or barbecue stick to make holes in and around the cake but not all the way to the bottom. Use a tablespoon to scoop and pour the syrup on to the cake. Repeat until your cake is satisfactorily drenched with syrup.

The orange zests will also serve as a pretty garnish on top of your cake. You can also glaze your cake with your favourite chocolate ganache or icing on top of your orange syrup, for a wonderful chocolate orange combination.

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