Where can I find the original treat?
- This treat was originally found at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
How is it already a week since our last recipe?! Time sure is strange right now, at least for all of us at home. But, another week, another Disney treat. And this week we’re traveling from our home base here in SoCal to Florida to make the African Sunshine Cupcake that was at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!
This sunflower cupcake was a request from a follower on Instagram. So, just a reminder to everyone that if there’s something you’d like to make and you don’t see it here on the site yet, just ask us and we’ll see if it’s something we can make! I’ll also point out that even though the cupcake recipe makes 12 total cupcakes, the buttercream should decorate about 6, as the other remaining 6 cupcakes we’ll crumble and use for our cake pop recipe in a few days!
This treat is a chocolate cupcake flavored with orange extract and topped with a layer of fudge, chocolate crisp pearls, and yellow and green vanilla buttercream frosting. They sure are a pop of sunshine! And don’t let all those individual petals scare you into thinking this is more of an advanced decorating project; it’s not! I’ve got a quick video I’ll link to on our YouTube page (yes, we have one but it’s a bit sparse!) and it shows the technique for piping on the petals. In summary, you’ll want to start the tip at the inner edge of the baking cup and fold up and over to create some height for the flower petals since you’ll want an area to catch all the pearls in.
While you might want perfect petals for your cupcake, kids can help mix the cupcake batter, and pipe their own petals for the flowers. It’s a good lesson in patience to slowly get the buttercream to come out!
If you’re wondering where the name comes from, Disney states that South Africa is the 10th largest producer of sunflowers in the world. Now let’s make some buttercream sunshine!Print
African Sunshine Cupcake (Sunflower Cupcake)
- Yield: 6 Sunflower Cupcakes 1x
Bring a little sunshine into your home with these orange-chocolate cupcakes topped with bright yellow and green vanilla buttercream surrounding a pool of fudge and crisp chocolate pearls. A Walt Disney World inspired treat.
For the cupcakes (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction):
- 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1–1/2 teaspoons orange extract
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature
For the fudge:
- 4 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the buttercream:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon heavy cream, milk, or nondairy milk
- green gel paste food coloring (I used Americolor Leaf Green)
- yellow gel paste food coloring (I used Americolor Lemon Yellow)
Chocolate crisp pearls for decoration
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with the baking cups. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and orange extract together until combined. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then half of the Greek yogurt. Gently whisk until just combined. Repeat alternating with the remaining wet ingredients and Greek yogurt. Stir only until there are no visible white streaks of yogurt to avoid over-mixing the batter. This is a thin batter!
- Fill baking cups halfway with batter. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before decorating. ** You will only need 6 for this recipe. Save the others for the cake pop recipe we’ll have in a few days!
For the fudge:
- While the cupcakes are baking, combine the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate in a heat safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave an additional 30 seconds. If chocolate is still lumpy, microwave an additional 15 seconds. Stir rapidly until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract in and stir to combine.
- Set aside in fridge while cupcakes continue to bake. You’ll want a pour-able, but thick consistency. See notes below for making ahead.
For the frosting and decoration:
- Cream the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy; about 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add in powdered sugar and mix until all the sugar is incorporated.
- Pour in vanilla and cream/milk and beat again for an additional 30 seconds. You want a stiffer buttercream to pipe the sharp edges of the leaf and flower petals. If buttercream seems too wet (flops off your spoon), beat in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
- Once desired consistency has been reached, scoop out 1/4 of the buttercream and put in a bowl big enough to mix it around in. Add in 2 drops of green food coloring for the leaves. Mix the frosting until no white remains and then transfer to a piping bag fitted with the leaf tip. Set aside.
- Grab your fudge and spoon a small circle of fudge in the center of each cupcake, leaving room to pipe frosting on the outside (about a 1/4″).
- Then, pipe 3-4 leaves on each cupcake starting from the fudge and moving to the edge of the wrapper, set aside. Remove piping tip, clean it, and fit onto a new piping bag.
- To the remaining white frosting, add in 2-3 drops of the yellow food coloring. Mix well until there are no longer any white streaks. Transfer the yellow buttercream to the new piping bag.
- Pipe sunflower petals around the edges of the fudge in 2-3 layers, piping over the leaves until desired number of petals have been created. You’ll want a small well to pour in the crisp pearls so keep that in mind when building your layers.
- Finish your cupcakes by spooning about a tablespoon of chocolate crisp pearls into the center of each cupcake. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
- The remaining cupcakes can be tightly wrapped in clingwrap and frozen for up to 6 months or crumbled and saved for cake pops.
- If fudge is made ahead of time, remove from the refrigerator at least an hour to hour and a half prior to cupcakes being cool for decoration. If fudge is still stodgy, scoop out a small ball and warm between your hands, forming a disc to top cupcake with.
- If petal or leaf tips are not available, you can make a DIY tip with just a pastry bag. Cut an inverse V in the tip of the bag and continue with the same piping movements.
- Any extra buttercream can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator the day before needed and rewhip until spreadable.
Keywords: treat, WDW, Animal Kingdom Lodge, sunflower, cupcake, chocolate, orange, buttercream, vanilla, fudge, chocolate pearls