Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 24 regular-size cupcake liners.
Combine the granulated sugar, flour, buttermilk, 8 fluid ounces water, oil, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, salt and eggs in a mixer and whisk on speed 1 until all the ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix on speed 2 until the batter is lump free.
Fill the cupcake liners half full with the chocolate batter and bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through the bake time. Cool the cupcakes completely.
To assemble: Place the Chocolate, Orange and Clove Infused Ganache filling into a piping bag and squeeze a small amount of the filling into the centers of the cooled cupcakes. Also pipe a small circle of this ganache around the top edge of the cupcake (so you can see the filling even after it is frosted). Generously pipe the Chinese Spiced Tea Buttercream on top. Garnish with chocolate curls and orange sugar crystals.
Chocolate, Orange and Clove Infused Ganache Filling:
In a large pot, whisk together the granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and fine salt. Once mixed together, add 10 ounces water and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue whisking for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and add the dark chocolate, butter, orange liqueur, orange oil, ground cloves and orange oil. Allow the mixture to cool.
Chinese Spiced Tea Buttercream:
In a medium pot, combine the granulated sugar with enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Place this pot over medium-high heat and cook to 235 degrees F.
While the sugar cooks, begin whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to full volume.
Once the temperature of the sugar reaches 235 degrees F (soft ball stage), pour the sugar into the egg whites. Continue whipping until the mixture cools to just above body temperature, about 4 minutes.
Slowly add in 1 pound butter (about 4 ounce pieces at a time). After each addition, allow the butter to mix in almost completely before adding more. The mixture should separate and come back together.
In a small saucepan, heat 8 ounces water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the loose tea (not the ground tea). Steep for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, strain into a separate bowl.
Once the butter mixture has come back together, remove the whisk attachment and replace with a paddle. Add in the remaining 1 pound butter, confectioners' sugar, steeped tea and ground tea. Paddle this mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.