Orange Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

Orange is a fantastic flavor complement for chocolate, and with the creamy tang of buttermilk added to the mix, these cupcakes are a real winner. In addition to orange extract, orange zest is used in both the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting for fresh taste and rich aroma.

Orange Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

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We use fresh orange zest and a bit of extract to infuse both the cupcakes and their cream cheese frosting with that rich orange flavor that complements the flavor of chocolate so perfectly.


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • Zest of 1 large orange, about 1-1/2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 3- ounce package regular cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, 1/2 stick, softenend
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 to 4 drops orange food coloring, optional – see recipe notes
  • 1 teaspoon orange liqueur, optional
  • Colored sugar sprinkles


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Beat the sugar, butter, orange zest, orange extract and vanilla extract with an electric mixer at medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing until well blended.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking cocoa, salt and baking soda. With the mixer running on medium, add about half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and continue mixing until well combined. Mix in the buttermilk, then add the balance of the dry ingredients. Continue mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the batter is smooth and creamy.
  • Spoon the batter into the paper-lined muffin cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back readily when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • While the cupcakes cool, place the cream cheese, butter, orange extract, orange zest and confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the orange food coloring and orange liqueur if desired and mix until blended. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before frosting the cooled cupcakes.
  • Store cupcakes in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving (about 10 minutes out of the fridge).

Tips for Making This Recipe

Recipe Notes:

To mix the orange food coloring, combine 3 drops yellow food color with 1 drop red. This should give this quantity of frosting a pale orange hue.
We like to keep our frosting refrigerated and frost the cupcakes just before serving. If this isn’t an option, for best results, store frosted cupcakes in a single layer in a container deep enough to hold them without the touching the lid.
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