Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

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These Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are light, fluffy and covered in a delicious Chocolate Orange Buttercream!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with chocolate orange buttercream

These Chocolate Orange Cupcakes have the perfect balance of chocolate and tangy citrus! Chocolate and orange may seem like an odd flavor combination but the richness of the chocolate and the brightness of the orange complement each other SO well. They’re super light, fluffy and moist! Plus they’re covered in a delicious Chocolate Orange Buttercream!

If you’re looking for more orange recipes try my Orange Muffins or Orange Donuts!

Ingredient Breakdown

All-purpose flour – this gives the cupcakes structure.

Cocoa powder – gives the cupcakes their chocolate flavor! I always use natural unsweetened cocoa powder.

Granulated & brown sugar – sweetens and tenderizes the cupcakes. Either light or dark brown sugar will work.

Orange zest – adds extra orange flavor by rubbing zest and granulated sugar together until it looks like wet sand. This releases orange oil from the zest.

Baking soda & baking powder – both leaveners are needed to help the cupcakes rise.

Buttermilk – adds flavor and moisture.

Orange juice – gives the cupcakes their orange flavor. Always use fresh orange juice for the best flavor. If using regular store bought orange juice make sure its 100% juice.

Vegetable oil – adds moisture and makes the cupcakes super soft. Also allows more chocolate flavor to shine through versus butter!

Vanilla extract and salt – enhances flavor. Always use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation for best flavor.

Hot water – enhances chocolate flavor

Chocolate Orange Cupcake with chocolate orange buttercream cross section

How To Make Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

1. Make the Chocolate Orange Cupcake batter: in a large bowl rub together the granulated sugar and orange zest until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in the brown sugar.

2. Add the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder to the orange sugar mixture. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl whisk the buttermilk, vegetable oil, orange juice, eggs and vanilla extract.

4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once combined, slowly mix in the hot water.

Cupcake batter

5. Scoop batter into prepared pans 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes in a cupcake pan

6. Make the Chocolate Orange Buttercream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

7. Add confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder then mix on low until combined.

8. Add the orange juice, vanilla extract then beat until fluffy. Add salt to taste. Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired. Store Chocolate Orange Cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.

Pro Tips For Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • Weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale! Measuring ingredients by volume is not accurate.
  • Don’t over mix the cupcake batter otherwise it will develop too much gluten and be dense/gummy.
  • Do not over fill your cupcake liners. Only fill them 3/4 full. I love this cookie scoop because it fills them with the perfect amount of batter!
  • Make sure your water is hot NOT boiling and slowly add it to the batter while stirring so you don’t accidentally cook the eggs.
  • Wait until the cupcakes are COMPLETELY COOLED before frosting otherwise the buttercream will melt and slide off.
  • If you want regular Chocolate Buttercream, substitute the orange juice for milk or heavy cream.

My Favorite Cupcake Tools

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with chocolate orange buttercream

If you try this recipe then please leave a rating/comment below to let me know how you liked it and feel free to ask any recipe questions you may have! 🙂

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Maria Azzarelli
These Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are light, fluffy and covered in a delicious Chocolate Orange Buttercream!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time 24 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes
Calories 310 kcal

Equipment

  • Two 12-count cupcake pans
  • Stand mixer or hand mixer

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • 250 g (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 210 g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 240 g (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 120 g (1/2 cup) orange juice about 2 oranges
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60 g (1/4 cup) hot water

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • 226 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 480 g (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • 40 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 60 g (1/4 cup) orange juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions
 

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line two 12-count cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl rub together the granulated sugar and orange zest until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in the brown sugar.
  • Add the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder to the orange sugar mixture. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl whisk the buttermilk, vegetable oil, orange juice, eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once combined, slowly mix in the hot water.
  • Scoop batter into prepared pans 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder then mix on low until combined.
  • Add the orange juice, vanilla extract then beat until fluffy. Add salt to taste. Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

Notes

  • Weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale! Measuring ingredients by volume is not accurate.
 
  • Store Chocolate Orange Cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.
 
  • Nutrition: the provided nutritional information is an estimate per serving. Please read my Nutrition Disclaimer for more information.
Calories: 310kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 3gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 172mgPotassium: 118mgFiber: 2gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 287IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg
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