I have been making and writing Chocolate Monday treats for many years and I am always happy with the recipes I share. But occasionally one really makes me sit up and take notice. Today’s recipe for Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes is one of those. These are seriously some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made – and they are gluten-free!
One of my favorite fruits is the blood orange, a delicate citrus with deep crimson flesh and juice. They are very sweet and arrive in stores in the middle of winter as a delightful change from apples and pears. Look for oranges with a darker skin – they look fairly normal until you cut into them. The first time I cut one open I was shocked at the beautiful rich red-orange color. I love to use them in salads, on breakfast plates and of course in baked goods.
The Artist’s preference is to juice them to serve with breakfast. I had to arm-wrestle him to keep a few for today’s recipe, but as soon as he tasted one of the cupcakes, he was very glad he left some for me to create these treats.
The cupcakes have a deep chocolate flavor from the combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate, which is highlighted by the freshly grated orange zest. Orange and chocolate are often combined in desserts, but using blood oranges is more subtle than the typical Naval orange.
I used a brand new chocolate for these cupcakes, the bars from Chocolat-e a local company just launched in the Portland, Oregon area. They offer a wide array of chocolates from individual countries, giving us the chance to taste the difference the location can make, like terroir in wine. I will be sharing more about the company and its chocolates soon.
While the cupcakes get all of their orange flavor from the zest, the frosting has both zest and juice. It is the perfect complement to the cupcakes and the two together make one heck of a dessert. The Artist doesn’t usually like frosting, but with these cupcakes he preferred the frosted ones. That is really remarkable.
Don’t judge these cupcakes on their appearance – they are much better tasting than they appear in the photos! The frosting broke on me, the first time this has ever happened. I’m not sure why it happened – I may have over-beaten the butter, the orange juice and zest may have been too acidic (I doubt that), or it just wasn’t my day for the perfect buttercream. Whatever the reason, the frosting looks grainy but tastes perfectly smooth and has a lovely orange flavor that lingers on your tongue long after you’ve finished eating the cupcake.
If you want a lot of frosting for piping, double the recipe. The frosting would be great on just about any dessert and it would also be fantastic as dip for cookies. All you have to do is add a little more cream to thin it out slightly and it would be perfect dipping consistency. Basically, The Artist and I could have eaten the whole batch with a couple of spoons.
It is a really good thing that this recipe only makes 12 cupcakes – otherwise I would gain a ton of weight because there is no way these are going to be hanging around our house very long! 😉
Have a fabulous week my lovely friends – Happy Chocolate Monday!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!
Key Ingredients for Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes:
- Cupcakes: butter, bittersweet chocolate, GF all-purpose flour blend, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, blood orange zest, buttermilk
- Frosting: butter, confectioners’ sugar, fresh blood orange juice, grated blood orange zest, cream (if needed), blood orange wedges or mini chocolate chips
While you can use a hand mixer for this recipe, a stand mixer makes your life much easier. You can move around your kitchen and do other tasks while it is beating. They can be expensive but I consider it an investment that will last for years and can be passed down to other family members. My Kitchenaid has been working hard for me for over 25 years! It has definitely paid for itself over and over!
If you want plenty of frosting for piping, double the frosting recipe.
How to make Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes:
- Prepare the Cupcakes: Melt the butter and chocolate together then set aside to cool slightly; whisk together dry ingredients together and set aside
- Beat the eggs and sugar together until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color; add the vanilla and zest mixing until evenly distributed
- Pour in the melted chocolate/butter mixture and beat until smooth, scrape the bowl and beater(s); mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients
- Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full and bake at 350°F for about 9 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean; cool completely on a cooling rack
- Make the Frosting: Beat the butter until smooth and fluffy, add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and mix until incorporated; mix in the orange juice, zest, and vanilla
- Add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, mixing well; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes
- If needed, add more sugar or a little cream to get the consistency you are looking for; the frosting will be pale pinkish-orange, add food coloring if you want a deeper color
- Spread or pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes and place a wedge of orange on top or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips
If you want beautiful cupcake paper liners, bake the cupcakes in the first layer, and then when cool enough to handle, pop them out of the muffin tin and set them in a clean cupcake liner. They are clean, pretty and bright!
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Muffin tins
- Cupcake paper liners
- Mini off-set spatula or piping bags and tips
Using Authentic Foods Superfine rice flours in your gluten-free flour blends and baked goods makes all the difference in texture. No more grainy or sandy bites, just pure, tender heaven!
You can adjust any recipe to gluten-free by using 120 grams per cup of my favorite gluten-free flour blend. If you are using another brand of gluten-free flour, whisk the mix, spoon it lightly into a measuring cup until mounded, level off the top with a straight edge, and weigh the flour left in the cup. Use that weight as your standard per cup of that specific flour. Commercial blends such as Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1, or King Arthur Measure for Measure are all good choices.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz, 113 g) butter
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup (90 g) gluten-free all-purpose flour blend or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (42 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder (gluten-free if needed)
- 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (149 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp finely grated blood orange zest, from about 1 orange
- 1/2 cup (114 g) sour milk or buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz, 113 g) butter, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups (170 g to 227 g) confectioners' sugar, as needed
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 2 tsp finely grated blood orange zest, from about 1 orange
- Up to 1 tbsp cream, if needed
- Blood orange wedges or mini chocolate chips, for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
- Prepare the Cupcakes: In a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with 1-inch water in the bottom, melt the butter and chocolate together over medium heat. Let the mixture start to melt and then stir regularly until nearly all the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth and completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until evenly blended. Set aside.
- Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of your standing mixer. Beat on medium speed, creaming until smooth, fluffy, and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and blood orange zest, blending until evenly distributed.
- Stop the mixer and pour in the melted chocolate mixture. Beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl and beaters, making sure there are no unmixed ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients and alternating with the sour milk. Mix lightly between each addition just until new ingredients are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three portions and the milk half at a time. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
- Beat until everything is smooth, but do not over beat. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl and beater(s), to pick up any unincorporated ingredients.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Place pan in the hot oven and bake 9 minutes, then gently spin the pan so the front cupcakes are now facing the back of the oven. Continue baking another 9 to 11 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack; let cool completely.
- Make the Frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Beat in the orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, mixing well. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. If needed, add more sugar or a little cream until you get the consistency you are looking for.
- If the mixture “breaks” and starts looking grainy, beat the mixture on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. The friction of the mixer will help to soften the butter again and re-emulsify the ingredients.
- The frosting will be a light pinky-orange color from the blood orange juice, but if you want a deeper color, you can add some food coloring.
- Once the cupcakes are completely cool, spread the frosting over the tops. You can also pipe it on if you prefer. Place a wedge of blood orange on top like I did or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
Recipe found at www.theheritagecook.com
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 191mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 6g
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