Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Have you ever seen the movie Chocolat? It is one of my favorites of all time, and in fact I want to step away from my laptop this very second to watch that story of a small European town turned upside down, of chocolate and its almost magical composition, of insistent winds that carry you away to the new and sometimes far away from the old.

Plus, Johnny Depp as a River Rat is quite compelling.

“But hey!” you might find yourself saying. “Isn’t this brand new thing supposed to be a blog about food and books, not food and wonderful movies with Johnny Depp and a whole lot of chocolate?”

“Why yes,” I would tell you, “Yes, it is a food blog about books.”

After I’d seen the movie a good eighty or ninety times, I decided that I needed to read the book upon which it was based, written by Joanne Harris, and it is… sometimes breathtaking. It is sometimes exactly the same as the movie I love, in that quiet, rebellious sort of way. And yet it is something altogether different, giving Vianne a deeper uncertainty, a bigger struggle, a harder love life. I often wonder how I’d feel if I’d read the book first (I’m oftentimes a purist about things like this), but having watched the movie first, I can tell you how much I love both.

I read the sequel, The Girl With No Shadow, shortly afterwards; it was compelling and emotional but different from Chocolat, but I’m glad to have read it. I realized immediately that I needed to read more by Joanne Harris, and so I found and bought Five Quarters of the Orange.

Looking back (I read it about two or three years ago), I find myself remembering the shocking violence and cruelty of Five Quarters of the Orange (unlike Chocolat and The Girl with No Shadow), as well as the prominence of food as both plot points and symbolism (exactly like the other two). It’s a coming of age story, but unlike most I’ve read.

I loved it.

I also bought another of Harris’ novels, Blackberry Wine. I have it here somewhere, and I know I have to read it soon.

And guys? This recipe is easy. Like super easy. Trust me, I’m only fooling you into thinking I’m brilliant (I hope). And yes, that does say "orange soda cupcakes". These are genius, and a slight variation of a recipe I found in a Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook. Plus it's fun that they bubble.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Orange Soda Cupcakes

2 c flour (I use unbleached all-purpose flour lately, but anything would work)
¾ c sugar
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda (I am always so paranoid I’ll mix these up…)
½ t salt
Zest of one orange
c unsalted butter (softened)
1 c orange soda
2 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177.7 C) and put cupcake liners into your muffin tin (okay, I actually use free-standing silicone cupcake liners with paper liners inside them).
  2. In a mediumish bowl, beat all the ingredients together on low (30+ seconds) then medium (2+ minutes), scraping the bowl occasionally.
  3. Make the frosting and glaze (see below).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick (or fork or skewer or something) inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on cooling racks.

Chocolate Frosting

1 c unsalted butter (softened)
1 c powdered sugar (this is really just a guess)
5 T cocoa (once again, a guess and based on personal preference)
Splash or two of milk

  1. Beat butter until it’s light and oh so fluffy.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, beating until mixed. If it's not fluffy enough, put it in the fridge for a bit, then beat again.
  3. Wait until the cupcakes are cool (Do it!! I did not and I regret it.). While they cool, you can put the frosting into a bag. My favorite method is to put a bag into a coffee mug, fold over the edges (so you don't get frosting on the zipper), and scoop the frosting in.
  4. Cut off a small corner of the bag and frost!

Orange Glaze

Juice of half an orange (I used the other half for my picture)
Splash of orange soda
2-4 T powdered sugar
Zest of part of an orange (and this is where the fifth quarter comes in. I used part of a second orange for zest alone and made my roommate eat the rest so it wouldn't go bad.)

  1. Mix all ingredients with a whisk or a fork.
  2. Let cool in the fridge.
  3. Drizzle over frosting on top of delicious cupcake.
They are best enjoyed with blackberry wine and a good book.

1 comment:

  1. Baketress,
    You know my weaknesses far too well. There are few precious things on this Earth that I adore more that the taste of orange and chocolate together. While I am not in a position to make them now, I certainly would like to try them some day. My past mostly consists of cooking but I would like to broaden my baking horizons and you are just the person to help me do it. Also, I love that movie.

    Your humble servant,

    Dorian Gray