Chocolate And Orange Cupcakes With Fennel Seeds



Did you ever eat Blackjacks ’til your tongue turned black when you were a kid? Tearing open that familiar wrapper, you could always smell the aniseed/liquorice flavour before tasting it. And that flavour made it nearly impossible to have just one, right? Well these days I don’t eat too many sweets, but if I want that distinct aniseed taste, then fennel is what I’d reach for. Until recently, I’d quite forgotten about this vegetable until I read 10 Wonderful Ways With Fennel on the Reader’s Digest. The orange ice cream combo was what stood out to me, with it being Summer and that (apparently). Orange and fennel is a really nice combo, as is chocolate and orange (Terry’s chocolate springs to mind). So what about chocolate, orange and fennel?

Chocolate And Orange Cupcakes With Fennel Seeds

That’s what provided the inspiration for these chocolate and orange cupcakes with fennel seeds, topped with a thick creamy orange buttercream frosting. These are the most scrumptious chocolate cupcakes I’ve created to date and I’m so excited to finally blog it!

When I was testing the recipe, I tried 1 tbsp of fennel seeds but the flavour was really strong and overpowered everything else! The bake itself was also a little dry for my liking. By reducing the fennel seeds down to 1 tsp, swapping caster sugar for demerara, this balanced out the flavours and helped keep the cupcakes moist.

With chocolate cupcakes, it’s better to slightly under-bake them than over-bake, as you can’t really tell by looking at them if they are done because of the colour (until it’s too late when the edges start to blacken). So at around the 11 minute mark, I did a quick check using the old toothpick method to see if they were done. In the end, the magic time for me turned out to be 14 minutes.

Chocolate And Orange Cupcakes With Fennel Seeds

As for the buttercream frosting…where do I begin? Creamy, orange and a hint of caramel from the golden syrup, it goes so perfectly with the chocolate and fennel!

I can’t promise these’ll make your tongue turn black, but you can enjoy tearing open the cupcake case and it will be nearly impossible to eat just one…

Chocolate And Orange Cupcakes With Fennel Seeds

Sarah Montgomery
Light and moist chocolate and orange cupcakes with fennel seeds and a creamy orange buttercream frosting.
Servings 10


For The Cupcakes

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g demerara sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 medium orange
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

For The Orange Buttercream Frosting

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 400g icing sugar
  • juice of 1 medium orange
  • 2 heapful tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan) and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and zest of one orange, mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and fennel seeds together.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients to the wet.
  • Fill each cupcake case and bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.
  • For the orange buttercream frosting
  • Beat the butter and salt together until smooth. Add half the icing sugar, half of the juice of one orange, 1 tbsp golden syrup, the vanilla extract and continue to mix. Then add the rest of the icing sugar, the rest of the juice of the orange, 1 tbsp golden syrup and mix until it's thick and creamy.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the buttercream frosting onto your cupcakes.
  • Freeze any leftover buttercream and use for your next batch!

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