Chocolate Orange Cupcakes, Gluten Free

There is something about dark chocolate and orange mingling together that makes me happy. Over the holidays I noticed that my favorite French chocolate shop was selling dark chocolate covered candied orange peel – something they only sell in winter. I almost bought some, but the price was just slightly more than a mortgage payment.

However it stayed on my mind for weeks. I had to have some. I sacrificed two oranges and followed the recipes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen here and Jen at Use Real Butter here– mish-mashing the directions together. I added more water (about 16 oz.  total) and sugar (about 15 oz or almost 2 cups) and added more time (about one hour 15 minutes total). And it worked. It is indeed a sticky mess but  ridiculously easy to do.

So easy that I had to imagine that the markup from my favorite chocolatier had to be like selling air in a can. It may be compressed but it is still just fancy air- in a can.

I did not dip them in chocolate because they were going to meet up with some very chocolate cupcakes. But I did eventually roll them in sugar and had plenty left over. I may yet dip them in chocolate.

The idea of these cupcakes is to infuse the chocolate with as much orange flavor as possible. Though both chocolate and orange alone are strong flavors, the later can get lost in a chocolate cupcake. I wanted a zing, not a hint. I began with a little bit of orange goodness but it wasn’t enough. It needed more orange. And just like it is smart to diversify your savings (stop laughing) it is also good to do the same with flavors in your baking. They shouldn’t all come from one source.

This cupcake contains pure orange flavoring, a hint of vanilla and espresso, and a big glug of Grand Marnier to round out the juice from two oranges. And then the final touch that put it over the top to perfect – an entire Newman’s Own Organics Orange Dark Chocolate Bar (here) –  finely chopped. It mingles with the other chocolate so well you actually don’t know why it is so chocolate-y orange-y delicious.

And then the best way to show off that cupcake is to give the top a generous dip in chocolate orange glaze (actually ganache) and pop a little piece of that delicious candied orange peel on top. Of course one Newman’s Own Organics Orange Dark Chocolate Bar was not enough. One for the cupcake, one for the ganache. All’s fair in love and chocolate.

Can I get you a cupcake?

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes, Gluten Free
  • 4.5 oz GF flour (3 oz superfine brown rice flour, 1 oz. superfine white rice flour, 0.5 oz of tapioca starch)
  • 6 oz. white sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 2 oz. unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso finely powdered
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange flavoring
  • ½ teaspoon Grand Marnier
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3.5 oz. orange juice, room temperature
  • 1 (3.5 oz) bar Newman's Dark Orange Chocolate Bar, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) heavy cream, heated
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped into pieces
  • 3.5 oz. bar Newman's Own Orange Dark Chocolate chopped into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange flavoring
Candied Orange Peel Topping
  • see post for links
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and place liners in a cupcake tin (12-14 cupcakes)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer weigh flours, sugar and cocoa. Add in espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. In the container with the melted and cooled butter, mix in eggs, flavorings and orange juice. Add to dry mixture and using paddle attachment, mix until fully incorporated. Add chopped chocolate and mix again just to incorporate. Using a spatula scrap down sides and bottom to make sure nothing has been left behind. Scoop into cupcake liners about ⅔ full and bake 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 325 and bake about 12-14 minutes more or just until a toothpick comes out with a few chocolate crumbs. Don't over bake. Cool on rack completely before frosting. They taste even better the 2nd day as the flavors mingle if you want to make the cupcakes ahead of time. But frost the day you serve them.
  1. Heat the heavy cream to a small simmer in a container large enough to hold the cream and chocolate. Add the chopped chocolate to the heated cream. Leave it for a couple of minutes. Stir thoroughly to melt all the chocolate. Add the flavoring. Stir.
  1. Prepare a baking sheet with a liner (to save on clean-up). Set a baking rack on top. Take each completely cooled cupcake and dip upside down into the chocolate until it is thoroughly covered. Place a tiny piece of candied orange peel on top. Let set and serve the same day. Store remaining chocolate in a covered container in the refrigerator for another use.
Candied Orange Peel
  1. Follow directions from Smitten or Use Real Butter - see links in the post. Make sure you thoroughly blanch the peels at least three times. Once sugared, I had to leave the peels for almost 36 hours to get them to a nice dry stage. Then I rolled them in a tiny bit of sugar - about two tablespoons for the peels from 2 oranges. Use what you like on the cupcakes and store the remainder in a sealed container. But make sure they are totally dry before storing.


  1. Yes, you most certainly can get me a cupcake! 🙂 Absolutely gorgeous, Lisa!

  2. This looks so lovely. Besides the point, I have a question for you. I have never had to worry about food until recently. My six year old daughter has just been put on a Gluten free diet. Could you tell me what buckwheat flour is? Is it a kind of flour or just an ingredient? There is so much contradicting advice on the net. In Toronto, there is quite a popular eatery that specializes in buckwheat crêpes called Hibiscus Café. I would love to visit it with my daughter, but I am not sure if such food is suitable for her.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Kate – welcome to Gluten Free. It gets easier after a while. Buckwheat is not actually wheat. It is a fruit seed sort of related to the rhubarb family. Buckwheat crepes in most eateries are not 100% buckwheat. You have to ask. And then you have to ask, again. Ask to talk to someone there who knows for real where they get their buckwheat and what they put in the crepe batter. Around here people also think buckwheat crepes are gluten free, but most are not because they add wheat flour to the batter. But there a few that are – but you have to actually ask them – and more than once. Also be sure to ask about the fillings – some may be thickened with wheat flour.

      Ground or milled buckwheat is a great addition to some savory gluten free recipes and breads. It adds a nice nutty flavor. Wolf’s brand Kasha in medium and whole grain say they are GF on the box and we’ve had no trouble with them. I grind my own in an old coffee grinder because I don’t use that much. If you look in our index under cool links you’ll see some great websites to get you started on gluten-free everything – along with ours. I want to especially suggest and her book because Nicole also has small kids. (Jeanine) is in Canada and might know more about resources there. Thank you for coming by and anytime you have a question, feel free to ask!

  3. Dark chocolate and orange is mine favorite combo. I’m delighted with tis cupcake recipe .I’ve featured this recipes on my blog! I hope you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.


  1. […] when we candied some orange peel (easy!) and used it to decorate the chocolate orange cupcakes? You can use those to decorate these cupcakes or buy some great GF orange jelly candy and cut out a […]