Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

Patissier and food writer Fran Gage offers up this luscious chocolate orange cupcakes recipe, which make for a great snack, dessert, and, for the chocoholics among us, breakfast.–David Leite

LC Halloween Note

Although these chocolate orange cupcakes are brown on the surface, the orange in them makes us think the combo would be perfect for Halloween. Natch, we don’t want to discriminate against the other 364 days of the year, as they’re quite lovely then, too.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 12 cupcakes
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
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  • For the chocolate orange cupcakes
  • For the chocolate frosting


Prepare the oven and pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Make the cupcakes

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Using the finest rasps on a handheld grater, grate the orange zest into the bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until it dissolves.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then whisk in the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter and mix until well combined, then whisk in the flour mixture.

Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each cup about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Make the chocolate frosting

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl placed over but not touching boiling water. Let the chocolate cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined.

Decorate the cupcakes

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan. Refrigerate the chocolate orange cupcakes until 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting.

Print RecipeBuy the Williams-Sonoma Cake cookbook

Want it? Click it.


    • Melting Chocolate
    • To melt chocolate, chop it into small pieces and put it in a stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan over, but not touching, barely simmering water. Heat until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Do not allow any water or steam to come in contact with the chocolate, or it will become stiff and grainy. Or, chop the chocolate in large pieces, place in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave on low for 1 minute. Continue to microwave if necessary, checking every 20 seconds, until the chocolate looks softened, then stir until smooth and liquid.

    • Cocoa Powder
    • Chocolate is made by crushing roasted cocoa beans into bits, or nibs, to produce what is known as chocolate liquor. To make unsweetened cocoa powder, much of the cocoa butter (the fat of chocolate) is removed from the liquor and what remains is ground. Dutch-process cocoa, or alkalized cocoa, has a mild flavor and a rich, dark color due to the addition of potassium carbonate, nonalkalized cocoa has a bolder taste and lighter color.

    Recipe Testers' Tips

    These chocolate orange cakes were a huge hit--the frosting in particular was much applauded. It's luxurious, sweet and chocolatey without being overwhelming. The cake is moist and rich, and the orange flavour balances beautifully. A great recipe!

    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. The cupcakes were nice, but next time, I will try to include some of the orange juice as they were not as orangey as I would have liked the,. The frosting was delicious!

      1. Pat, sorry they weren’t as orangey as you had hoped. My suggestion is not to add orange juice, which will change the consistency of the batter, but rather more orange zest.

    2. These are exceptional cupcakes with a rich, chocolate flavor. I’ve made them several times and everyone loved them!

      1. Thanks so much for letting us know, Wendy. We love it when readers find a new favorite and make it again and again.

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