Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jaffa Cupcakes

Aren't these the cutest little clementine oranges you've ever seen? They're not the real thing though. The real oranges are in the bowl in the background. These little cuties are made from marzipan! They were pretty easy and very fun to make. I decided to make these to top some cupcakes I was creating for my little brother's birthday.

He LOVES the English Jaffa Cakes which are these chocolatey-orangey (McVitie's terms) biscuits. We can find them in the U.S. now and I'm always buying him a box for his birthday or Christmas. We visited a cupcake shop together recently and he commented that nobody makes a chocolate-orange combination. So, I vowed to him that I would...and here it is! I made chocolate cupcakes with a homemade orange buttercream and topped them with my homemade marzipan crafted into tiny little clementine oranges.

Overall, they turned out quite good, but I did have a few hiccups (I mean learning experiences) along the way.
First of all, I think I filled my cupcake papers just a little too much. So, while they rose nicely and baked perfectly, they were a little too full and some of them stuck to the cupcake tin a little. They don't even look that full, but it's best to keep them only 1/2-2/3 full.

I also tried using these new cupcake papers called "If You Care." They are unbleached, which I thought was good and while I was trying to be a good environmentally conscious baker, they didn't work out so well. While they boast "better non-stick performance" that apparently not only meant they wouldn't stick to the pan, but also that the cake wouldn't stick to the paper. The cupcakes that I baked in these papers, were coming away from the paper and looked awful. I was lucky that I baked half of them in just plain white (yes, probably bleached) cupcake papers, but they turned out better (the one on the right).

Ok, so that's my venting about the cupcakes out of the way. Now onto the fun part - the little marzipan clementines.
I started with my smallest packet of frozen marzipan that I made from scratch earlier in the year. I thawed it in the refrigerator overnight and then let it come to room temperature the next day. As I did previously when I made the marzipan tulips, I reconstituted the marzipan using a little light corn syrup and it came together and was ready to mold in no time.
The first step was to make it orange, so I used an actual clementine orange as my subject and used AmeriColor Electric Orange (163) that was cut into the marzipan before I kneaded it. After having green and pink hands for a few days after coloring fondant for my birthday cake, I decided to wear some gloves to knead the orange color into the marzipan.

I was pretty happy with this nice bright orange color and molded it into a log first.

I cut the log into eight somewhat equal pieces.

Then, I cut each of the eight pieces in two and this was the size I used for rolling them into 16 little oranges.

One tip that I almost forgot about (and had to re-roll a few) was to place them on plastic wrap after molding them as it's pretty sticky.

I love this idea that I read about. To give the oranges their stem, I used whole cloves with the bloom from the middle removed.

Then they were rolled over my ceramic spice grater for the "dimpled" effect. However, I find that marzipan (especially homemade) has a little texture to it anyway from the ground almonds.

Here they are, my heaping bowl full of marzipan oranges. Now onto decorating the cupcakes...

I ended up making my own recipe for the orange buttercream. It ended up having a nice light orange flavor, but not too overpowering (see recipe below).
I piped on the frosting as I thought it would look nicer with the orange zest in it. While I definitely need to work on my piping skills (and am trying desperately to get into that course in culinary school), this was a little more difficult to pipe because it had a looser consistency with the orange juice I added in. Perhaps, I should have added a bit more powdered sugar to hold it together more, but it worked out just fine. I chilled the cupcakes overnight and it held together nicely. I just let them come to room temperature before I placed the marzipan oranges on top and served them.

While I learned a few things along the way, I was quite happy with my Jaffa cupcakes. My brother was too, but admitted that he felt I had gone through way too much trouble for him to just inhale it in less than a minute.
Recipe for Orange Buttercream:
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons fresh grated orange peel
4-6 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat on low (so it doesn't fly everywhere). Beat in the vanilla and orange peel. Add the orange juice a few tablespoons at a time for taste and consistency. Note: I used a little over 6 tablespoons and it had a nice flavor, but the consistency was a little loose.


  1. NICE JOB! your little clementines are amazing!! everything down to the texture is perfect, so realistic and adorable. i have the same cupcake liners and haven't used them yet...i'm so bummed to hear they didn't work out!

  2. Thanks! Who knows...maybe they would work better with a different batter? I was thinking of trying them with muffins or something more dense vs. cupcakes.