Chinese New Year isn’t far off. It’s a time of fun and celebration and … cupcakes!
Well, ok, maybe not cupcakes in the traditional sense, however it is normal to offer those who visit you during this time of the year sweets and nibbles and I classify cupcakes in that category. So, knowing the Year of the Horse is coming up I thought it might be fun to make some cupcakes with horses on them.
I’ve been toying with the idea of chocolate horse silhouettes for a while now and this gave me the perfect excuse to see if I could pull it off.
How do you make these?
Firstly you’ll need some horse images to use. You can draw your own of course or you can find any number on the internet so look for those you think will work with the style you want to portray. You can then resize them if needed and print them out.
Now you’ll need some baking paper and chocolate. Ideally cooking chocolate is the best but you CAN use some of the better quality eating chocolate if you must. In my case I used Lindt milk chocolate because it is what I had handy and my sprogs love it. You could also use dark chocolate or white chocolate; The cupcake isn’t going to discriminate.
Break the chocolate into even sized portions if it isn’t already. Using whichever method you prefer (stove top over a hot water bath or microwave), melt the chocolate. Remember if you are using a microwave use short bursts so as not to over-nuke the chocolate and make it go gross. If you are using the stove top method make sure you use a metal bowl and spoon and that you don’t get any water in the chocolate lest disappointment follow. Slow and steady is always best when working with chocolate as it can quickly become temperamental and send you down the path of darkness and disappointment. Once your chocolate is melted and completely smooth leave it to sit for a few minutes to cool enough to work with. This gives you the opportunity to prepare your designs for tracing.
Lay the horse image(s) you printed out on a flat surface. Put a sheet of baking paper over the top. Use a small piece or two of sellotape to keep the baking paper in place as you will be tracing the horse image.
Now there are several methods you can use when tracing designs with chocolate. Sometimes I use a plastic bottle with a nozzle and fill it with chocolate, however I found the nozzles on the bottles I had too large for these designs so I chose to use a disposable decorating bag with a connector and a number 2 decorating tip. You could use a number 1 decorating tip as well however as the hole is smaller there is a higher chance of blockage as the chocolate solidifies.
Place a few tablespoons of chocolate into the decorating bag. Be careful as the chocolate may still be hot. Also be careful as the chocolate will be quite fluid and may drip out of the tip without you applying any pressure. I work with small amounts of chocolate at a time as it is easier to control for tracing.
Trace around the outline of your image with the decorating tip, which you should be able to see through the tracing paper. Apply gentle pressure only as needed. You won’t be able to get exact detail, eg the hooves exact shape and some parts of the mane, however as long as you are careful you should be able to trace enough that there will be a reasonable resemblance to the image underneath.
Once you have your outline you can fill (or flood) the image with chocolate. I purposely make the chocolate more raised on the body to add a bit of texture. Do one horse at a time so it can begin setting while you work on the next.
Eventually you should have a herd of edible equine delights start to emerge on your baking paper. If you are careful you can move the white paper underneath to reuse the images and trace chocolate horses side by side. Remember to top up your chocolate as needed, to work slowly and steadily, and to make sure you put enough chocolate on each image that is will be strong enough to remove from the baking paper later on.
While the horses are setting you can make your buttercream and use it to decorate your cupcakes. Chinese New Year traditionally use reds and golds or yellow. One thing you need to remember here is how to make the buttercream design complement the chocolate horse designs you have chosen. If your horse is rearing up on two legs then the icing will need to be higher in order to provide support to the chocolate horse.
If your horse is standing on all fours then you have more flexibility as it will be able to support itself more easily in the buttercream base.
Let the chocolate set completely before trying to peel the horses from the baking paper to place on your cupcakes. Patience plays a big part in the success of these cupcakes. I always make more chocolates than I know I will need just incase one or two break along the way.
And voila … Chinese New Year cupcakes celebrating the year of the horse. Here’s my herd, how did yours work out?