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Lunar Year of the Tiger Orange & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

This year is the Year of the Tiger!

February 1st was Chinese New Year, and this year is the year of the tiger.

I initially created this recipe back in July of last year to mark the International Day of the Tiger. So, what better way to mark the new year than with these beautiful orange & black cupcakes.

Chinese New Year has a long ancient history steeped in traditions and colourful celebrations! It marks the beginning of the new year on a Chinese lunisolar calendar.

I love the punchy orange flavour contrasted with the rich dark chocolate. It's divine, and they look as good as they are to eat. I dyed the batter with food colouring because it really makes it pop, and of course this is integral to the tiger theme! They're filled with orange marmalade for a final zing.

The ingredient list may be long - but it's worth it!

And, if you're not up for the two cupcakes in one, then baking the orange batter, splitting it in two and dying one orange and one black, will also give you that incredible tiger stripe effect.

I also used two different buttercream flavours - orange & dark chocolate - and dyed them to create a tiger striped effect. It's the same method I use in my Pride Rainbow Cupcakes, but these are simpler in that it's two colours and not 5!

It's a lot simpler than you would think. Just separate your ingredients and use two bowls instead of one. Easy!

Happy Lunar New Year

Let's get Caking It.



180C (170C fan)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep: 20 mins

Bake: 18 mins

Assembly: 10 mins

Ingredients: Orange


75g unsalted butter

75g caster sugar

2 medium eggs

75g gluten free self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 large orange; zest and juice

1 tbsp sour cream

Orange food gel colour


80g unsalted butter

150g icing sugar

1 tbsp orange juice

Orange gel food colour

Ingredients: Chocolate


100g gluten free self-raising flour

30g cocoa powder

1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of xanthan gum

50g caster sugar

25g light brown sugar

50ml oil

2 medium eggs

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

25ml boiling water with 1 tbsp instant coffee powder

1 tbsp sour cream

Black food gel colour


50g unsalted butter

150g icing sugar

50g dark chocolate


Orange marmalade


Method: sponge

Don't forget to wait until all the ingredients are room temperature before starting.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Fill 12 muffin holes with cases.

  2. Start with the orange sponge. With a fork, cream the butter until pale, then add the sugar and cream together until fully incorporated.

  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing with an electric whisk between each addition, and then add the orange juice.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and xanthan gum with a fork, and then add this to the mixture, mixing until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream, orange zest and 1/2 a tube of orange gel food colouring and mix one final time.

  5. Place to one side and move onto your chocolate sponge.

  6. Start with the dry ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum to a bowl and whisk to fully incorporate.

  7. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, sugars, and vanilla extract. Then, add the eggs one at a time, whisking with an electric whisk between each addition until slightly frothy.

  8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork to incorporate.

  9. Boil the water and add the instant coffee to it. Slowly pour it into the batter while mixing until it is glossy.

  10. Add the sour cream and 1/2 tube of black gel food colouring to the cake batter and give it a final quick mix to incorporate.

  11. With a teaspoon, dollop alternating spoonful's of the orange batter and chocolate batter into the cupcake cases. With a toothpick gently swirl the batter together.

  12. Let the mixture sit in the cases for 20 minutes before placing in an oven for 18 minutes. A skewer or toothpick inserted into the cupcakes should come out clean.

Method: Buttercream

This buttercream looks as bright and beautiful as it tastes.

  1. While the sponges are cooling, move onto the buttercream.

  2. For the orange buttercream, cream the butter until pale, and gradually add in the icing sugar until it is all incorporated. You can do this either with a standing mixer, an electric hand whisk, or a fork. At this point the mixture should be a little stiff.

  3. Add a teaspoon of orange juice and mix and continue adding the rest of the orange juice until a glossy, smooth and pipeable buttercream is formed.

  4. Add the other half of the orange gel food colouring and mix.

  5. For the chocolate buttercream, cream the butter until pale, and gradually add in the icing sugar until it is all incorporated. You can do this either with a standing mixer, an electric hand whisk, or a fork. At this point the mixture should be a little stiff.

  6. Chop the dark chocolate into small chunks and melt in 20 second increments in the microwave. Wait a minute to let cool slightly and then pour into the buttercream and beat until nicely incorporated.

  7. Add the other half of the black gel food colouring and mix.


  1. Making sure the sponges are completely cool, scoop out the middle of the cupcake with an apple corer, taking care not to go right down to the bottom.

  2. Spoon a little orange marmalade into each cupcake hole.

  3. For the striped buttercream, spread a 1-inch line of orange buttercream onto clingfilm from the bottom to 1/3 of the way up. Do the same with the black, making sure they touch. Roll up the buttercream, using the clingfilm to help you. Squeeze the top of the clingfilm and leave the bottom open, the put this into a piping bag, open side facing towards the piping nozzle.

  4. Now simply pipe onto your cupcakes and it should produce a beautiful striped tiger effect!

  5. I finished mine with roughly chopped dark chocolate chunks and orange rind.

  6. Enjoy!

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