Chocolate Christmas Cupcakes are a super moist chocolate cake, flavored with fresh oranges and a ton of holiday spices, topped with a light Swiss Meringue Buttercream. This Chocolate Christmas Cupcake recipe is sure to be a holiday classic!
I am always looking for excuses to bake cupcakes; they’re my favorite thing to make. Birthday? Cupcakes. Sporting event? Cupcakes. Friends coming over? Cupcakes. Tuesday? Cupcakes. And my Christmas dessert table always has a cupcake on it.
I have made Christmas Tree cupcakes, chocolate orange cupcakes, chocolate spice cupcakes, plain chocolate cupcakes with red and green sprinkles, and then I brought it all together to form a holiday flavor explosion in your mouth.
This cupcake is a moist chocolate cupcake (the cake is vegan friendly, but unfortunately the frosting is not) made with orange juice and zest and flavored with a mixture of holiday spices. The spiciness in the cake is offset by the buttery and rich Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
What do I need for Christmas Cupcakes?
I recommend using a stand mixer or an electric mixture and large bowl, but this cake can be done by hand! If you use my frosting recipe, it will need a stand mixer.
- Granulated sugar.
- All purpose flour.
- Cocoa powder. I use Hershey’s Special Dark and I always recommend using a dark cocoa powder, but do not use Dutch process. More info here.
- Ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Baking soda.
- Almond milk. You can switch this out for whole milk as well.
- Orange juice and orange zest. This will always be a better flavor than an orange extract and I do not recommend using an extract for this cupcake.
- Coffee. This can be brewed in a coffee machine or just use warm water and instant espresso powder. Do not skip the coffee – you cannot taste it, it only enhances the flavor of the chocolate.
- Vegetable oil.
- Vanilla extract.
I always use Swiss Meringue Buttercream, on every cake and cupcake that I make. I find standard American buttercream frosting to be very sweet for my tastes, while Swiss Meringue is more light, rich, and buttery.
As stated above, the cupcake is vegan but this frosting is not. If you want an all vegan cupcake, you will need a different frosting recipe.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is made with egg whites (heated up over a pot of simmering water until it is safe to eat), sugar, and butter. I did not add any extra flavorings to mine, but you can add orange zest or spices to this if you want more of the flavor in the frosting!
Christmas Cupcake Decorating
I will be the first to admit: I am not much of a cake decorator. I cannot make cakes that look like shoes, and I can barely stack a layer cake. But what I can do is filling a piping bag and make a cupcake swirl, so that is all I did here. Wherever you are with your skill level, you can still make delicious cupcakes!
Be sure to add some festive sprinkles! You can use a marshmallow and pretzels to make a Snowman decoration, or dye your frosting green and use a round piping nozzle and rainbow sprinkles to make it look like a tree! You can also just spoon some frosting on top, or eat it as is! What matters most will always be flavor, and this cupcake definitely can stand on it’s own!
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 /2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- juice of 1/2 an orange
- zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup coffee, cooled down (or water mixed with espresso powder)
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 2 egg whites
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 14 tbsp softened butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Add sugar, flour, cocoa powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl. Thoroughly whisk until there are no lumps of cocoa powder.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Make sure coffee is cooled down completely, or mix together water and espresso powder. Set aside.
- While mixing, all the vegetable oil, milk mixture, and half the coffee to the dry ingredients. Keep mixing until fully incorporated, then add remaining coffee. Mix until the batter is completely smooth.
- Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Pour batter into the cupcake molds, filling up about 1/2 - 3/4 of the way full. Keeping going until the batter is all in the cupcake tin. This recipe yields me exactly 12 cupcakes every time.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the cupcake pan on a wire rack.
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream: In the bowl of a completely clean and grease-free stand mixer, add egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar.
- Take a small amount of water in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat to just a simmer, and place the stand mixer bowl on top. Whisk the entire time, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved and cooked through, place bowl back onto stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until the bowl is cool to the touch and the egg whites have reached stiff peaks.
- Add butter in small amounts, allowing each piece to mix in completely before adding the next. If the frosting looks soupy at this point, keep whisking on high speed until it comes together (and it will!). Add vanilla extract according to your own flavor preferences.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag and swirl onto cooled cupcakes.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving Calories 404Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 36mgSodium 622mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 2gSugar 33gProtein 4g