Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

While chocolate and orange might sound like an odd combo, it reminds me of being a kid. My Grandma always used to buy us chocolate oranges for the holidays, and they’re the inspiration behind these chocolate orange cupcakes.

image of a chocolate orange in a box

I wanted these cupcakes to taste just a decadent and chocolatey as I remembered.

To do that, I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe as a starting point. Then I tested out the best way to incorporate that bright orange flavor into these cupcakes.

image of a chocolate orange cupcake decorated with chocolate orange buttercream frosting

Packing These Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Citrus Flavor

These chocolate orange cupcakes use pretty much every part of an orange! The cupcake batter is made with orange juice and orange zest, and the top is even decorated with orange peel spirals!

But the real secret to getting that amazing orange flavor into these cupcakes is using an orange emulsion.

While an orange extract would also work, using an orange emulsion really steps up the flavor of these cupcakes. Why, you ask? It has a secret ingredient. Citric acid!!

Now before you get creeped out by the sound of that, citric acid is made naturally by citrus fruits. It’s what gives them their tart, sour taste.

image of a chocolate orange cupcake decorated with a sprinkle of fresh orange zest

I find that both the cupcake batter and frosting have that wonderfully bright, citrusy flavor when I use an orange emulsion.

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

These orange chocolate cupcakes use quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have all of them on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

image of orange zest being added to an orange chocolate cupcake

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make:

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend (be sure to also follow my tips below) or cake flour if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of these cupcakes.
  • Orange Juice – If you don’t have orange juice you can use warm water instead.
  • Eggs – If you have an egg allergy you can use 2 flaxseed eggs or 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe. Canola or sunflower oil would work great!
  • Vinegar – This recipe needs a bit of vinegar because it uses baking soda as a leavening agent. The vinegar activates the baking soda and helps the cupcakes rise. You can use white or apple cider vinegar.
  • Orange Emulsion – If you can’t get a hold of orange emulsion, you can use orange extract or vanilla extract in its place. The orange flavor won’t be quite as strong, but it’ll still taste great.

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Orange Buttercream Frosting

image of decadent chocolate orange buttercream being made in a kitchenaid stand mixer
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter and omit the salt this recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Orange Emulsion – If you can’t get a hold of orange emulsion, you can use orange extract or vanilla extract in its place. The orange flavor won’t be quite as strong, but it’ll still taste great.
  • Cocoa Powder – If you’re out of cocoa powder, you can use additional powdered sugar in its place.
  • Dark Chocolate – you can use milk, dark or semi-sweet chocolate to make this chocolate frosting! Just be sure it’s a good quality chocolate, so it will melt down smoothly.

Tips for Making The Best Chocolate Orange Cupcakes:

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour! Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale.
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better.
  • Use an orange emulsion to really pack these cupcake with citrus flavor!
  • Fill the center of each cupcake with orange marmalade. It makes the cupcakes even more moist.
  • Make these orange chocolate cupcakes vegan or dairy free! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the heavy cream, vegan butter sticks in place of the butter, and flax seed eggs.
  • Decorate your cupcakes with an orange peel spiral and a sprinkle of orange zest to make the decoration match the flavor.
image of chocolate cupcakes being filled with orange marmalade

Making These Cupcakes in Advance

These cupcake can be made in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for:

  • 2 days at room temperature
  • Up to a week in the fridge
  • Up to 3 months in the freezer

If you have extra buttercream you don’t use it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or piping bag for up to 2 weeks.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try making this chocolate orange cupcake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment.

Also please tag me @chelsweets! Use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

image of a chocolate orange cupcake decorated with chocolate orange buttercream frosting

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 12

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

image of a chocolate orange cupcake on a little cupcake stand decorated with fresh orange zest and an orange peel spiral

These moist chocolate orange cupcakes are made with a decadent chocolate orange frosting, and are garnished with a candied orange slice.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 13 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour (98 grams)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa powder (32 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (3 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (2 grams)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (180 grams)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (114 grams)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (70 grams)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (4 grams)
  • 1 tsp orange emulsion or extract (4 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh orange zest (3 grams)

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup (or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (56 grams)
  • 1 tsp orange emulsion or extract (4 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh orange zest (3 grams)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 grams)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (62 grams)
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (25 grams)
  • 3 Tbsp cup heavy cream (40 grams)
  • 1/4 cup melted dark chocolate, cooled (45 grams, 2 oz.)

Optional Filling & Garnish

Instructions

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F (175°C). Place 12 cupcake liners in cupcake pan.
  2. Sift 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup orange juice, 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp orange emulsion or extract, 1 Tbsp fresh orange zest. Mix just until the batter is smooth.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix together with a whisk or rubber spatula just until the batter in smooth.
  5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for about 18-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  1. While the cupcakes cool make the orange chocolate buttercream. Beat 1/4 cup of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. 
  2. Mix in 1 tsp orange emulsion or extract, 1 Tbsp fresh orange zest and 1/4 tsp salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, followed by 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as need with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add 3 Tbsp of heavy cream and mix on a low speed.
  5. Mix in 1/4 cup of cooled, melted dark chocolate.
  6. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  7. If the frosting is too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.
  8. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula to get the frosting SUPER smooth. Place into a large piping bag fit with a Wilton 1M frosting tip.

Decorating These Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. If desired, remove the center of each cupcake with a small knife and fill with 1 Tbsp of orange marmalade.
  2. Pipe a rosette on top of the marmalade with the orange chocolate buttercream using a Wilton 1M piping tip.
  3. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh orange zest and an orange peel spiral.

Notes

This recipe can also be used to make mini orange chocolate cupcakes! This recipe makes about 40 mini cupcakes, which only need to bake for 9-10 minutes.

These cupcake can be made in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for:

  • 2 days at room temperature
  • Up to a week in the fridge
  • Up to 3 months in the freezer

If you have extra buttercream you don't use, it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or piping bag for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 285Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 36mgSodium 226mgCarbohydrates 47gFiber 2gSugar 35gProtein 3g

One thought on “Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  1. The cake was the best thing to ever bless my mouth! I used a different icing recipe and didn’t add the filling, overall they were amazing!

Let me know what you think!