This one is dedicated to those chocolate orange fanatics out there! These easy chocolate orange cupcakes are the ultimate zesty chocolatey treat. Moist cupcakes made with real fresh orange and plenty of rich chocolate. Topped off with a nice thick ganache frosting.
To make these easy zesty orange chocolate cupcakes, you'll need:
- Flour - all purpose or plain flour, measured and levelled for best results.
- Cocoa powder - I like to use dutch processed cocoa powder for the richest chocolate cakes.
- Sugar - a combination of superfine granulated sugar (or caster sugar) and light brown sugar (muscovado). Light brown sugar should be measured firmly packed.
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature. You can use salted butter in this recipe, but it may impact the overall flavour by adding saltiness. If you opt for this substitution you may wish to reduce the added butter by about half.
- Baking soda
- Vanilla extract
- Eggs - large eggs, ideally at room temperature for baking.
- Orange - one large fresh orange will work well for both the orange juice and zest in this recipe. You can use storebought orange juice, but be sure this is fresh squeezed and not from concentrate.
- Milk - for best results, I like to use full fat milk or whole milk. This recipe will also work with 2% or semi-skimmed.
How to Make Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- Begin by zesting the orange and juicing this. Reserve the zest on a plate, while adding the juice to a small jug. Then add the milk and vanilla extract to the orange juice and set aside. This helps to sour the milk, essentially creating a DIY Buttermilk, much like I discuss in my Buttermilk Substitute Guide.
- Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the orange juice mixture along with the zest and whisk through.
- Finally sift the dry ingredients - your flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder - into the mixing bowl. Stir through until combined, taking care not to leave any unmixed pockets of flour.
- Use a scoop or spoon to dollop the batter evenly across a lined 12-hole cupcake tin. The mixture will fill the cupcake cases between half and about three quarters full.
- Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for around 22 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of a middle cupcake comes out clean.
- In order to bring out the orange flavour, you'll need plenty of zest along with the orange juice. If intending to juice and zest one orange - start off by zesting this before you juice it - the process will be a lot easier than trying to zest an already juiced fruit!
- This recipe is sufficient for 12 cupcakes, but it could also be made as a single layer 8" or 9" cake. The baking times for this will vary.
- Using a cookie scoop to dollop out cupcake batter will help distribute this most evenly and cleanly. You can also use a spoon or a small measuring cup.
Chocolate Ganache for Cupcakes
Once your cupcakes are cool, its time to frost! There are many options here. To complement the chocolate orange, I'd recommend using chocolate ganache and citrus peel.
Chocolate ganache to cover a dozen of these cupcakes can be made with about 12 ounces of chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and about 1½ cups of heavy (double) cream.
Heat the cream until it is simmering, allow to simmer for a couple of minutes and then pour over the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Let this sit a couple of minutes before stirring until smooth.
Allow this to then cool for about half an hour, to solidify to a pipe-able consistency. Dependent on the temperature of your kitchen this may take a bit longer.
Pipe in a swirl over your cupcakes (I used a piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip) and then sprinkle some candied citrus or orange peel.
Alternative Topping: Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Instead of ganache, these cupcakes can also be topped with chocolate buttercream. Simply add a bit of coca powder to my standard American buttercream recipe to make an easy cocoa buttercream.
This can be done in one of two ways:
- Bloom the cocoa powder (about a tablespoon per quantity of buttercream recipe) by mixing this with equal parts boiled water to form a paste. Add this with the vanilla to the buttercream at the end. Dependent on the consistency you are looking for, you may still need to add a bit of milk or add a bit more powdered sugar.
- Otherwise, you can add cocoa powder with the icing sugar, as a dry ingredient sifted into the mixture. This will be a less strong flavour normally.
Absolutely! This recipe for chocolate orange cupcakes is made with real orange juice, not with Terry's Chocolate Orange. This means it is naturally flavored through fresh fruit.
Chocolate orange cupcakes will last for several days at room temperature. Avoid storing in the refrigerator as this will dry them out. But, in warm weather it may be necessary to place in the refrigerator if a cool enough counter space is not available - dependent on the type of frosting used.
Yes, these cupcakes will freeze well. I would normally recommend freezing undecorated, since defrosting frosted cupcakes can sometimes lead to the icing splitting from the cake or sweating. Once cool, store in a ziploc bag and place in the freezer. These should keep frozen for about 3 months without issue. Defrost before consuming.
If you like these cupcakes, you might also be interested in:
- Chocolate Walnut Cake
- Pistachio and Cardamom Cake with Orange
- Ultimate Chocolate Baked Donuts
- Chocolate Orange Sweet Focaccia
- Chocolate Cherry Cinnamon Rolls
- Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
Ingredients for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- ½ cup orange juice fresh, not from concentrate
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ½ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ½ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups all purpose flour or plain flour
- 5 tablespoon cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
Ingredients for Ganache Frosting
- 12 oz dark chocolate chips or finely chopped solid chocolate
- 1½ cups heavy cream or double cream
- candied citrus peel optional decoration
Instructions for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- Preheat you oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and line a 12-hole cupcake pan.
- Place the orange juice, milk and vanilla extract in a small jug and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Then add the orange juice mixture and orange zest. Beating to blend together.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly with a spatula until just combined. Be sure there are no remaining pockets of flour.
- Spoon out into prepared cupcake tray and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 22 minutes - start checking around 20 minutes and remove once a skewer inserted in the centre of one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack and frost with ganache or chocolate buttercream and top with citrus peel.
Instructions for Ganache Frosting
- To make ganache for these cupcakes, simply heat the cream in a saucepan over a medium heat until simmering. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes (but do not bring to a boil) and then pour over the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Let this sit for about 2 minutes to begin melted and then stir until smooth.
- Allow to cool for about half an hour until the consistency has thickened to a more stable, but pipe-able consistency.