Sweet and tangy, these Chocolate Orange Cardamom Cupcakes are filled with orange curd and topped with an orange cardamom buttercream frosting. Fresh oranges make all the difference in this moist, yet light treat!
When your older brother finally graduates college, cake is in order. Specifically chocolate cake. With orange curd filling and orange cardamom buttercream frosting because it felt like the type of sophisticated dessert that one would eat after getting a degree.
Truthfully, I envisioned a double-layer cake, lightly frosted with only a crumb coat so that the chocolate showed through. Then I would top it with artistically piped buttercream flowers and thinly sliced orange. My cake decorating skills aren’t quite where my imagination wishes they were, though.
Instead, I developed an illogical, yet convincing, case for turning this into a batch of Chocolate Orange Cardamom Cupcakes. The cake needed layers because more layers means more cake and more cake is good. But one cake, even with layers, still looks like less than many cupcakes, even though they’re smaller. I know, it’s Piaget’s theory of conservation. Children have trouble grasping that two different shaped cups can hold the same volume of water. Deep down I know that 30 cupcakes equals one 9-inch double-layer cake. Like I said, my thought process was illogical.
These are logic-defying cupcakes. Rich and moist, yet still light and fluffy. Sweet and tangy from the fresh orange, with a spicy bite laced throughout from the cardamom. The chocolate cardamom combination cuts through the sugar, keeping these from tasting overly sweet.
You can split up the process if it looks daunting. Make the orange curd filling first, since it needs to cool completely. It’ll last for several days in the fridge if you need! While you can prep the frosting a couple of days in advance, too, and just keep it tightly covered in the fridge, I wouldn’t. American buttercream, like this one, tends to get a hardened crust. You’d need to beat the frosting again before using, which might still leave you with grainy buttercream. At that point I’d just make it fresh while the cupcakes are baking and cooling.
I think these cupcakes would be perfect for your New Year’s party (or any other day). Orange and cardamom are wintry flavors that feel like wrapping yourself up in a warm blanket while it snows. Make sure to tell me when you’ve made these!
- 1 cup vegan* or unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
- ¾ cups natural cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- FOR THE ORANGE CURD:
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp vegan or unsalted butter
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- ¾ cup vegan or unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ¾ tsp cardamom
- zest of 1 orange
- 2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- TO MAKE THE ORANGE CURD: Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk for 30 more seconds, and pour into a jar to cool completely in the fridge. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Put cupcake liners in a cupcake tin and set aside.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Add the orange zest and juice. The batter will look curdled at this point, but don't worry! It'll come together when you add the dry ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on low, until just incorporated. With the mixer still on, slowly pour in the boiling water. Continue mixing until fully combined.
- Fill each cupcake liner ⅔ of the way. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cupcakes springs back when touched lightly with your finger. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- TO MAKE THE FROSTING: Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Begin mixing on low, so that the sugar gets incorporated into the butter. Then increase the speed to medium-high, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the frosting is light, smooth, and fluffy.
- TO ASSEMBLE: Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, scoop approximately 1 teaspoon out of the center of each cupcake. Fill it with orange curd. You can either spread frosting on each cupcake, or fill a piping bag and pipe the frosting onto each.
- Store covered tightly at room temperature for 3 days, or in the fridge for 5 days.
*I like to use Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks.