Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

These healthy-ish chocolate orange cupcakes are rich, decadent, perfectly sweet, and have that incredible citrus twist from the orange! They are made with mostly whole-food ingredients and are dairy free and gluten free too. 

image of chocolate orange cupcakes from the side topped with orange zest and a white background

Delicious and Easy Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

 

Fall and winter to me brings richer, more decadent meals and treats (in contrast to delicious light spring treats). These chocolate orange cupcakes are bursting with flavour that’s satisfying, and perfect for any celebration that the fall (or winter) season brings. Think Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, any other special occasion. 

Whether you are craving a sweet treat, or want to wow a small crowd, these chocolate orange cupcakes are a must try!

image of a small cupcake pan with 6 chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate icing and orange zest

These cupcakes are surprisingly healthy (or healthier!) made with mostly whole food ingredients. They do not contain refined flours, and only have a very limited amount of refined sugars compared to traditional chocolate cupcakes. 

The sweetness comes mostly from pure maple syrup and melted dark chocolate and the icing can be homemade or you can opt for a store-bought icing (a little more indulgent) and add in the neutral orange flavour yourself. 

image of chocolate orange cupcakes in a small metal tin topped with orange zest

Do chocolate orange cupcakes contain real orange?

 

These ones definitely do! While some varieties or orange chocolate cupcakes contain orange extract, orange flavouring, or pieces of Terry’s chocolate orange, these cupcakes contain actual orange juice and orange zest. 

I find using real, whole oranges for the recipe creates a really subtle and natural orange taste rather than one that is overpowering or artificial tasting. 

The fresh orange and the dark chocolate go so well together to create a natural, bright, and vibrant flavour combo. 

image of a flat lay of ingredients for chocolate orange cupcakes on a marble background

Ingredients for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

 

These delicious and easy chocolate orange cupcakes are made with just a handful of ingredients and the icing can be made the lazy way (use store-bought and make a small adjustment to get that orange twist) or you can do a homemade version.  

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Cupcakes:

 

  • Almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill is great!)***
  • Tapioca flour***
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Sea salt
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Oranges
  • Maple syrup
  • Dark chocolate chunks or chips
  • Olive oil
  • Eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract

image of chocolate orange cupcakes from the side topped with orange zest and a white background

***A note about flours:

 

If you do not want to use almond flour, or do not have any, you can use all purpose flour as well. However, you will need to omit both the almond flour and the tapioca flour, then use 1 3/4 cup regular cake flour (or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour) then reduce the bake time to 10-12 minutes.

I do not like this version as much to be honest, as when I was testing the recipe I found the regular and gluten-free flours to make the cupcakes less moist and they did not rise as nicely. 

image of chocolate orange cupcakes from the side topped with orange zest and a white background

For the Icing:

 

  • Option 1: Storebought chocolate icing of your choice + orange zest (this is what I opted for as I was going for a balance between healthy and indulgent with these cupcakes)

 

 

Whichever you choose, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the rich chocolate flavour cut with the bright citrusy orange. Such a lovely combo!

image of a chocolate orange cupcake with a bite taken out of it

How To Make Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

 

Making these delicious cupcakes is a really easy process. While the homemade icing (if using) needs some time to chill, the actual time to prepare the cupcakes is less than 30 minutes. 

Here’s what you’ll do:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

image of a bowl filled with dry ingredients - flour and cocoa powder - for chocolate orange cupcakes

3. In a small pan over low heat combine the chocolate chunks and orange juice and stir until melted.

4. Combine the wet ingredients and the melted chocolate mixture in another bowl, and whisk.

image of a bowl of wet ingredients for chocolate orange cupcakes with chocolate sauce being poured in

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until well combined. 

6. Fold the orange zest into the batter. 

7. Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners.

8. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick pulls clean from the centre of the cupcakes. 

9. Let the muffins cool completely then pipe with icing as desired

10. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings/orange zest and enjoy!

 

Have you ever made chocolate orange cupcakes? Tell me about it in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save it for later!

 

image of chocolate orange cupcakes from the side topped with orange zest and a white background

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Yield: Makes 12 Cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These healthy-ish chocolate orange cupcakes are rich, decadent, perfectly sweet, and have that incredible citrus twist from the orange! They are made with mostly whole-food ingredients and are dairy free and gluten free too.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup almond flour (190g)*** (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca (20g)*** (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (24g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 Tablespoons natural orange juice
  • 6 T dark chocolate chunks (30g)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

Chocolate Orange Icing:

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
    2. In a large bowl combine the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine.
    3. In a small pan over low heat combine the chocolate chunks and orange juice and heat, stirring until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.
    4. In another small mixing bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla, and pour in the melted chocolate mixture, then whisk to combine.
    5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until a runny, mostly smooth batter is achieved.
    6. Fold in the orange zest.
    7. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling to 3/4 full.
    8. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick pulls clean from the centre of the cupcakes.
    9. Let the muffins cool completely then pipe with the chocolate orange icing as desired, sprinkle with chocolate shavings and orange zest and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you do not want to use almond flour, or do not have any, you can use all purpose flour as well. However, you will need to omit both the almond flour and the tapioca flour, then use 1 3/4 cup regular cake flour (or gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour) then reduce the bake time to 10-12 minutes. I do not prefer this version as much to be honest, as when I was testing the recipe I found the regular and gluten-free flours to make the cupcakes less moist and they did not rise as nicely.

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 cupcake with icing
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 17gCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information isn't always accurate. Calculated using 2 tablespoons store-bought icing per cupcake.

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Have a great weekend!

Christal // NITK

Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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