Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

The weather in Ohio is wretched and my mood is starting to reflect the weather. Wretched. My backyard is a swamp, my freshly groomed dogs now look like strays and smell like Fritos. I’ve ruined two pairs of Gap City Flats over the course of 5 days and have mopped my kitchen floor more times than I care to count.

The April showers that bring May flowers almost have me wishing for snow, but not quite. As I sat down to Lightroom to edit a bunch of photos, I noticed a trend. My mood totally transfers to my photos. When it is dreary and cold, I tend to shoot moody, dark images. When the skies are clear, I opt for light airy backgrounds and styling.

Take another look at the photo above. Any idea what kind of mood I was in? I made a feeble attempt of incorporating citrus into the frosting in an effort to brighten my melancholy state. Did it work? Not so much. Maybe I need to whip up some fruit sorbets and rich ice creams.

Okay enough about me and the craptastic weather, let’s talk cupcakes. I started with one of my favorite chocolate cupcake recipes and slathered them with a gorgeous orange infused cream cheese frosting that’s so good you might be compelled to bathe in it. However, that may get a little messy, but hey, at least you’d smell good! The citrus kick provided me with the little oomph that I needed to escape the rainy day blues.

Hopefully the weather (and my mood) will improve in short order. If sunshine doesn’t do it, the sugar high from these citrus-y chocolate cupcakes certainly will.[/donotprint]

Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes


For the cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
zest of one large orange
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


For the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Using a large scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, orange zest, shortening, and butter until well combined.

2. With the mixer of low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine.


- Store cupcakes in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Remove to room temperature 30-45 minutes before serving.
- I added a tiny bit of orange gel dye to the frosting to achieve the pale orange hue that is seen in the photo.
- Cupcake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

77 Responses to “Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Carrie — June 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    These look very good!! Looking forward to making these….I was wondering what kind of coffee you use for the cupcakes? Should I just use a basic Folgers french roast, or splurge for a nice Starbucks coffee?
    I was also wondering if you knew the tip # that you used for the piping?

    Thanks for the recipe!!


  2. MICHAEL BLACK — July 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm



    • Masha — July 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Mine sunk too! I tried about 5 times at different temperatures…all the same :(

    • Lulu — August 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Try adding a teaspoon of vinegar and an extra teaspoon of baking soda. It’ll make it lighter and more fluffy.

    • Jamie — August 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thanks for the tips Lulu.


  3. Ashley Johnson — July 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    These cupcakes were AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! i love all things chocolate AND organe put TOGETHER like at Trader Joes in the Christmas time they have these chocolate oranges hmmmm they are sooo good so this cupcake recipe hit the spot for me! Thanks


  4. Kerry — September 14, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I’m planning on serving these to a group that includes my 1 yr old. To preserve my sanity, I want to leave out the coffee. Any suggestions/substitutions?


    • Georgie — October 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      Just leave it out. You don’t need a substitute. Using coffee is usually just there to bring out the chocolatey flavor even more.

  5. Karen | Divine Dinner Party — October 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Orange and chocolate makes a very unique and satisfying combination. I can just imagine the frosting melting in my mouth. Can’t wait to try this but I was thinking what kind of coffee I can use for this…. :)


  6. Nikki — November 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Jamie, so glad I found your blog, it’s fab! I am going to make these cupcakes and I wondered about the shortening in the icing – is there any particular reason you use it? I’d be very interested to know as we don’t often use shortening in icing in the UK.


    • Jamie — November 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, sometimes I add a little bit of shortening to the cream cheese frosting to make it a bit more stable. It’s definitely not necessary though. Have a delicious day!

  7. June — April 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Can this recipe be incorporated into just regular cakes? Sorry, I’m a complete baking novice, so I really don’t know!


  8. Michelle — May 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Can I use all butter instead of butter/shortening combo for the frosting?


    • Jamie — May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

      That should be just fine, the shortening tends to make the frosting a little more stable, but it will taste just fine. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Melissa — June 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Is it okay to leave out the coffee, or must I substitute it with something else?


    • Jamie — July 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      You definitely don’t want to leave out the coffee, it will change the structure of the cupcakes if you omit the liquid. If you are against the coffee, I would recommend substituting a cup of hot water. Hope this helps.

  10. Cynthia — September 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

    These. Sound. Awesome. I have never tried chocolate + orange before. (I know! Crazy!) But I am pretty picky with what goes with my chocolate. These however, sound incredible enticing. Will try it during the next typhoon here in the Philippines.


  11. Macarons — November 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    These chocolate cupcakes look tasty and tempting. i can’t wait to make these.


  12. Laura — May 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I made this orange frosting and used it with brownie cupcakes, and they were DELICIOUS!! The frosting is so amazing I’ve made it a couple of times and eat the leftover! The orange/chocolate combo is great and really tasty with brownie cupcakes. Thanks for the recipe!


  13. artemis — June 13, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Hi, was just wondering if I don’t use the shortening will the icing still be as stable? Looking forward to making them they look yummy :)


    • Jamie — June 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      Artemis, probably not. Shortening is much more stable than butter in frostings, which means it can also stand up to being at room temperature for longer.
      – Jamie

  14. Rumsey52 — August 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I made these cupcakes and they are amazing. Very light and sponge-like. Not a dense cake-like texture. That said, there was no way I could have used a scoop as directed in the instructions to distribute the batter. It was so runny that I only added 1/2 cup of the coffee. I held my breathe while they baked but they came out perfectly! Whew!


    • Jamie — September 1, 2014 at 9:20 am

      I’m glad that the cupcakes worked for you. Thanks for visiting!


Leave a Comment