These easy chocolate orange cupcakes topped with a chocolate orange buttercream are a simple but stunning bake for afternoon tea, bake sales and kids parties! This is a small batch recipe that you can easily double (which, the rate they get eaten in our house, you are going to want to do!)
Chocolate orange has to be one of my all time favourite chocolate pairings – chocolate orange drizzle cake is one of my all time favourite drizzle cakes, and this moist chocolate orange cake is my go-to for birthdays. It started with Terry’s chocolate orange no doubt, that English confectionary of orange flavoured chocolate presented in the shape of an orange that you tap to seperate the segments, as for a real orange. Here I have reunited them in this chocolate orange cupcake recipe.
Why we love this recipe
- Small batch recipe – this cupcake recipe makes 6 cupcakes, which is ideal for a small family or when you want to bake without many leftover cupcakes, however it can easily be doubled.
- Soft and light chocolate sponge topped with fluffy chocolate orange buttercream .
- Fun recipe to make with kids.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Butter – I recommend using unsalted butter than adding a pinch of salt.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar.
- Flour – plain flour / AP flour
- Cocoa powder – good quality cocoa powder will pack more of a rich chocolate flavour in to your cupcakes and chocolate buttercream.
- Orange – Orange zest and orange juice flavours the sponge, and orange juice adds orange flavour to the buttercream. I recommend making these cupcakes without orange extract. You get so much lovely flavour from fresh orange.
- Icing sugar – confectioners sugar. Pure icing sugar rather than soft icing mixture.
How to make this recipe
- Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
- Mix the milk and fresh orange juice together and place to one side.
- Add softened butter to the sugar with orange zest and vanilla essence and beat until light and fluffy.
- In a seperate mixing bowl sift the flour with baking powder, cocoa powder and pinch of salt.
- Add half the beaten egg to the butter sugar mixture and mix.
- Add half the flour-cocoa mix to the butter and stir. Repeat with the egg and then the cocoa-flour.
- Add milk and stir. If it seems to dry – it should drop off the spoon – add a little more orange juice or milk.
- Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven.
Cupcakes were originally small cakes baked in ramekins or small pottery cups and the name comes from this.
Terry’s chocolate orange was created by a British confectionary company, Terry’s in the 1930s. Despite now being manufactured abroad – currently France although it was produced in Eastern Europe before that – it has bred a selection of sweet treats, from cakes to tarts, with chocolate orange flavour combination. I haven’t noticed it to have such a popularity outside the Commonwealth countries.
No, you don’t have to ice cupcakes! These orange and chocolate cupcakes taste delicious without any icing. Instead you can dust them with icing sugar, or a drizzle of melted chocolate if you wish, or leave them plain.
Fill the cupcake liners ⅔ full, to allow for the cupcakes to rise when cooking.
My recipe tips
- Preheat your oven.
- Use softened butter. If the butter isn’t at room temperature it will be harder to beat.
- Do not over-mix the batter – gently fold though the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.
- Wait until the cupcakes are completely cold before you ice them.
These cupcakes are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature and eaten in 2 days. After this time they will begin to dry out. Do not store the iced cupcakes in the fridge as they will dry out. You can freeze the cupcakes un-iced for up to 2 months. Defrost before you ice them.
- Decorate with grated fresh orange zest – do this just before serving as it can dry out very quickly and I find goes slightly bitter.
- Terry’s chocolate orange – add a segment of Terry’s chocolate orange on top of the buttercream and/ or add a quarter of a chocolate orange, roughly chopped, to the cake batter.
- With ganache – instead of the chocolate orange buttercream you can top these cupcakes with a ganache.
Other chocolate recipes
Unsurprisingly, our family loves chocolate! Here are some of our favourite chocolate recipes:
Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
- 6 whole muffin or cupcake tin
- 6 cupcake liners
- 30ml (⅛ c) milk ($0.05 / £0.02)
- 30ml (⅛ c) orange juice, from approx ½ a medium orange ($0.99 / £0.18)
- 60g (¼ c) butter, unsalted ($0.78 / £0.42)
- 110g (½ c) granulated white sugar ($0.13 / £0.07)
- ½ orange, zested, (½ tablespoon) –
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste ($0.02/ £0.01)
- 115g (¾ c) plain flour (All-purpose flour) ($0.14 / £0.06)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder ($0.10 / £0.03)
- 30g (¼ c) cocoa powder ($0.33 / £0.16)
- pinch salt ($0.01 / £0.01)
- 1 large egg, beaten ($0.35 / £0.18)
Chocolate orange buttercream – larger amount, best for piping
- 60g (¼ c) softened butter ($0.78 / £0.42)
- 160g (1⅓ c) icing sugar (confectioners sugar) ($0.58 / £0.29)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder ($0.49 / £0.24)
- 3 tablespoons orange juice –
- Preheat the oven to 170˚C fan / 190˚C / 340˚F convention / 375˚F
- Line 6 cupcake/muffin tins with 6 cupcake cases.
- In a small bowl mix the milk with the orange juice and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or beaters, cream the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and pinch of salt together.
- Add ½ beaten egg to the butter-sugar mixture and mix. Sift in ½ dry ingredients and gently mix with a spoon until just combined.
- Repeat with the other ½ egg and flour mixture.
- Add the milk-orange juice mixture and mix with a spoon until just combined. The batter should drop off the spoon, if not, add ½-1 tablespoon of orange juice or milk.
- Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases, then bake for 15-19 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream/ frosting, beat the softened butter in a bowl until very soft, gradually beat in the cocoa powder and icing sugar, then gradually add the orange juice. If the mixture is too thick to pipe, add a drop more orange juice.
- Spread or pipe the buttercream over the cupcakes and leave as they are, or decorate with candied orange peel, fresh orange zest, or chocolate sprinkles.
- These cupcakes are best enjoyed within two days. Store at room temperature.
- 45g (3.25 tablespoons) softened butter
- 120g (1 c ) icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons orange juice