Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3.
Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large heavy based saucepan (ideally with a lip to help make pouring the mixture into the cases later easier). Set the saucepan over a medium heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Allow the tin and mixture to cool (you can speed this process up by lacing the saucepan in the fridge or outside)
Measure the milk into a pyrex jug, add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat in with a fork. Pour the milk and egg mixture into the cooled syrup mixture and beat to combine – ideally with a hand-held electric whisk. Finally, sift the cocoa powder and flour into the mixture, beating until everything is well combined and no flour is visible in the wet, smooth batter.
Carefully pour the mixture into your muffin cases, dividing it equally. Bake the larger
cupcakes for 20–25 minutes and the mini ones for 10-15 or until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out fairly clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring, to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the chocolate cupcakes are baking, make the ganache. Put the chocolate into a
small/medium-sized heatproof bowl with the golden syrup and vanilla extract. Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When it’s just coming to the boil, pour it over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth and shiny. Leave to cool and reach a soft spreading consistency.
To decorate your cakes, transfer and divide the chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake and spread over with a small palette knife. Scatter over some of the green desiccated coconut to look like grass, before placing your sheep and bunny biscuits on top, together with some little sprigs of mint and the occasional marzipan bee!
To make the sheep and bunny biscuits –
Using a hand-held electric whisk, or in a free-standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar
together for 3–5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Break the egg into a mug or jug, add the vanilla extract and beat with a fork. Gradually add the egg to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Sift the flour into the mixture in two or three batches, mixing in each batch gently, to make a soft dough. Halve the dough and pat each piece into a rough disc (this makes it easier to roll out later). Put into two food bags, or wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate for several hours, to firm up a little.
Remove the dough from the fridge 15–30 minutes before rolling it, so it can soften slightly. Roll out the dough between sheets of baking parchment to the thickness
of a 50 pence piece. If the dough seems very sticky, dust it and the parchment lightly with a little flour. Peel off the top parchment sheet, then cut out your sheep and bunny shapes. Peel back the dough trimmings and lift the animals, on their parchment paper, on to a baking tray. Using a cocktail stick, to create the indent of an eye and hooves and a ‘flower leaf shaper’ or the end of a wooden coffee stick to create the nose and inner ear detailing. Next chill the dough for 15 minutes in the fridge and repeat the process with the trimming to create more or return the trimmings to the fridge or freezer to use at a later date.
While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 180C, 160C Fan, Gas Mark 4 and bake the biscuits for 8–12 minutes until they are lightly golden brown around the edges. Leave them to firm up for a few minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To decorate, apply the melted chocolate to the sheep and bunnies using a paintbrush and sprinkle over your desiccated coconut and leave to set.
The sheep biscuit cutter I used is here and a similar bunny biscuit cutter is here
To make the marzipan bees –
Place the egg yolk, orange zest, orange blossom water and honey in a medium bowl and
mix into a paste. Stir in the icing sugar and ground almonds and bring together into a ball. If the mixture is to dry you can add a little juice from the orange or a bit of egg white.
You can use the marzipan straight away or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm or in a sandwich bag, in the fridge for 2–3 weeks. Shape into bees and use the chocolate to the paint the bees lines and eyes on with. Finally place two whole flaked almonds in the marzipan bee to create its wings.