Making Chocolate Orange Cupcakes at home has never been easier or more delicious! These cupcakes have a rich cocoa flavor, and are enhanced with a burst of citrus from fresh oranges. Topped with a decadent chocolate buttercream, these cupcakes are elegant yet simple to make.
Chocolate and orange is a classic flavor combination. The deep and decadent richness you get from chocolate is brightened with a light orange citrus flavor to wake up all your taste buds. I have loved this combo so much that I also turned it into chocolate orange shortbread cookies!
These chocolate orange cupcakes are moist and super soft. The batter is made with orange juice so the flavor is really baked in. You can top these beauties with a layer of Chocolate buttercream, or fudge frosting, and you’ve got an elegant dessert that looks (and tastes) like it was straight out of a bakery!
The best part is that they are really simple to make. As a professional baker, my favorite recipes are the ones that look impressive yet took only minutes to put together- just like these cupcakes!
All you do is combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and add in the wet ingredients. Mix and bake as usual!
WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS RECIPE
- These chocolate cupcakes with fresh orange are a sweet mix of flavors, combining the rich decadence of cocoa with a tangy twist of citrus.
- Easy to prepare in less than 30 minutes, these cupcakes are perfect for when you need a quick dessert that’s also impressive to look at.
- They are impressive looking and tasting but are simple to prepare.
- Granulated Sugar – This essential ingredient adds sweetness to the cupcakes, enhancing the other flavors, and helping with browning and texture.
- Orange Zest – Adds a fresh and tangy pop of citrus flavor to the cupcakes, complementing the rich chocolatey taste.
- All Purpose Flour – Gives the cupcakes their structure and mixes with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cocoa Powder – Provides the cupcakes with a deep, rich chocolate flavor while also adding a rich brown color.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – These leavening agents help the cupcakes rise and become light and fluffy. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients (like buttermilk and cocoa powder), while baking powder has its own acid and just needs moisture.
- Salt – Enhances all the other flavors in the cupcakes by balancing the sweetness.
- Eggs – Contribute to the structure of the cupcakes by providing proteins that coagulate during baking while adding moisture and richness.
- Buttermilk – Adds a tangy flavor and tender texture to the cupcakes.
- Vanilla Extract – Adds a layer of flavor complexity, rounding out the chocolate and orange flavors with a warming aroma.
- Orange Juice – Contributes to the overall moisture of the cupcake while adding fresh orange flavor.
- Cooking Oil – Provides fat, which tenderizes the crumb, making the cupcakes moist. It also carries flavors and helps to distribute heat evenly during baking.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE ORANGE CUPCAKES
Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners. Set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients: Add the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Then, zest the orange on top of the sugar to help absorb the essential oils and natural flavors. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk on low speed until the dry ingredients are fully combined.
Add in the wet ingredients: To the bowl with the dry ingredients, slowly add each egg and mix until each is fully combined. Then, add the milk, vanilla, orange juice, and oil. Mix just until the batter is formed.
How to make chocolate dipped orange slices
This is totally optional but makes the cupcakes look even more impressive. All you have to do is slice an orange and cut each slice into quarters so you have 4 wedges.
In the microwave on 30 second increments, melt 1/4-1/2 cup of chocolate with a drop of oil in it. Dip half the wedges into the chocolate, then lay them down on wax or parchment paper to dry.
When they are dry, stick them into the cupcake!
TIPS FOR RECIPE SUCCESS
- To pipe frosting onto these cupcakes I use a 1M tip from wilton and a piping bag.
- When zesting the orange, make sure only to scrape off the outermost orange layer and avoid the white pith underneath, as it can add a bitter flavor to your cupcakes.
- When adding the eggs, add them one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. This prevents the batter from curdling and results in a smoother mixture.
- Avoid over-mixing the batter once you’ve added the flour, as this can lead to gluten development, resulting in a tougher cupcake. Stop mixing as soon as there are no streaks of flour left.
- Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter among the muffin liners, ensuring an even distribution and cupcakes that are uniform in size.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them; otherwise, the frosting might melt and slide off. If you’re in a hurry, you can pop them in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
STORAGE AND FREEZING
Storing: Place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature for about 2-3 days.
Freezing: For longer storage, cupcakes can be frozen. Freeze them unfrosted on a baking sheet until they’re firm to the touch, then transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag or an airtight container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring them to room temperature and frost.
Can I substitute the buttermilk with regular milk in this recipe?
Yes, you can. However, buttermilk adds a distinct tangy flavor and helps make the cupcakes tender. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a quick substitute by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it curdles.
My cupcakes didn’t rise properly, what could be the reason?
There could be a few reasons why your cupcakes didn’t rise. One common issue is outdated leavening agents (baking soda or baking powder). Always check the expiration date before using. Another reason might be over-mixing the batter, which can overdevelop the gluten and prevent the cupcakes from rising properly.
Can I make these cupcakes ahead of time for a party?
You can bake the cupcakes a day in advance, let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container. It’s best to frost them on the day of the party to ensure the frosting is fresh and the cupcakes look their best.
WAYS TO ENJOY
- Instead of chocolate, try using Orange Buttercream to frost the top for additional orange flavor and color contrast.
- Garnish with a quartered Crispy and Chewy Orange Cookie for even more visual appeal and indulgence.
- Drizzle the top with Bourbon Caramel Sauce after frosting for a deep caramel flavor with a boozy twist.
Easy and Quick Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 250g
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 150g
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder 50g
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 eggs at room temp
- 1/2 cup buttermilk room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup orange juice cooled
- 2 tbsp oil
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the 1 ¼ cup sugar, and zest the orange over it.
- Then add the 1/14 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Mix on low speed or whisk lightly to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed add in room temp eggs one at a time until fully combined.
- Slowly pour in the ½ cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup orange juice and 2 tbsp oil. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute until combined.
- Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
- Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter ¾ of the way.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes then cool.
- Use chocolate dipped oranges, or orange zest as garnish.