These Gluten Free Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes are low carb, and absolutely decadent! A chocolate cupcake with a tender crumb infused with blood orange juice and topped with a tangy blood orange cream cheese frosting. Rich chocolate, a moist and light cake with a vibrant flavor or color!
Disclosure: This post is brought to you in partnership with our friends at Bob's Red Mill. We used their superfine almond flour and xanthan gum to make these drool-worthy cupcakes. We love using Bob's Red Mill products to craft the most delicious baked goods. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to bring fresh new content to A Full Living!
🧁About the recipe
Please tell us we aren't the only ones that are just absolutely OBSESSED with a good chocolate and orange combo. No? GOOD, I mean, really. It's just so understated and wonderful, and we can't get enough!
When blood orange season came around, we knew we had to get to work on something truly special. Blood oranges are just so gorgeous and they taste incredible too. The combination of a rich, chocolate cupcake and the light and bright blood orange is just the perfect match.
There is blood orange juice and zest in both the chocolate cupcake, as well as in the decadent cream cheese frosting. You get a fabulous blood orange taste in every single bite, without it being too much. You guys are going to love these gluten free blood orange chocolate cupcakes, we can guarantee it!
We answer a lot of questions in the body of the text, as well as talk about substitutions, etc. in the body of the text. You can feel free to skip to the recipe card if you want to get right into it.
This post is also available as a Google Web Story.
- Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour- Our preferred gluten free and low carb baking flour. Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour is just that, super finely ground, so you're not going to get a bunch of grainy bits. Do not substitute this for coconut flour, they are definitely not an equal substitute.
- Sugar Free Sweetener, Powdered - Use your favorite sugar free sweetener, granular or powdered erythritol will work very well. We used powdered for this particular recipe because it's so finely ground that it will mix together so well when we sift all of our dry ingredients. In this recipe, we add the sweetener to the dry ingredients mix rather than creaming it together with butter. There's actually no butter or oil in this gluten free chocolate cupcake base. Also, please definitely use powdered for the cream cheese frosting for the best results.
- Dutch Process Cocoa - For a super rich color and flavor, we use Dutch process cocoa, which is alkalized and therefore neutral, since we have a lot of fresh orange juice in the batter. We also add baking powder and baking soda to help the cupcake rise, so the cocoa powder is truly just here for the flavor and color. We will talk more on depth on this topic later on in the post.
- Espresso Powder- We used a finely ground instant coffee. This ingredient is technically optional, but it really enhances the chocolate flavor.
- Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum- We love Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum for binding our gluten free baked goods! Technically optional, but we do recommend it. More on this later.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder- NOT interchangeable by any means, seriously don't try it. Baking powder is an acid and baking soda a base. They react (along with other ingredients in these cupcakes) to help you get a great rise and shape. Do check and make sure that the baking powder and baking soda aren't old however. This article does a great job of explaining how and why to test your leavening agents to make sure they are still good to use.
- Kosher salt - Kosher Salt is our new favorite salt source. It's much easier to control (in terms of saltiness) when it comes to various types of salt, compared to different types of salt! We love the diamond crystal shape. The texture is amazing it dissolves really well into both the cupcake base and in the frosting.
The Wet Ingredients & Frosting Ingredients
- Sour Cream, room temperature- This cupcake is a sour cream based cupcake, with no additional oil or butter! You could use Greek yogurt in its place, but be warned that Greek yogurt does contain more carbs and it is also slightly tangier than sour cream, which will affect the overall flavor.
- Blood Orange Juice and Zest- We use both the zest and the juice to make these cupcakes moist, super flavorful and irresistible! You will find both zest and juice in both the gluten free chocolate cupcake base and in the blood orange cream cheese frosting.
- Orange and Vanilla Extract- Both extracts go in both the cupcakes, and in the frosting. They are flavor enhancers. We add orange extract to really bring home that orange flavor without adding too much liquid or more acid to the cupcake base.
- Eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten- We whisk our eggs in a separate bowl to ensure there's no shells, and also to avoid over mixing in the butter.
- Unsalted Butter, room temperature- We use butter cut into small chunks as the base of our frosting. The frosting is technically a buttercream and cream cheese hybrid, but butter helps the frosting to hold its shape.
- Unsalted Butter, room temperature- Full fat, softened and you're good to go for the frosting. Let the cream cheese sit out on the counter for a while before mixing with a hand mixer, so that you get a smooth silky frosting.
Preheat your oven to 350°F, and line cupcake tins with liners. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes. Spray the liners with baking spray and set aside.
Sift your dry ingredients and sweetener into a large bowl (almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, kosher salt and xanthan gum) into a bowl. Whisk well to ensure there are no clumps. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract, orange extract, blood orange zest and blood orange juice until combined a nice pink color. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs until just combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches, mixing by hand using a rubber spatula until just incorporated.
Using a cookie scoop, spoon batter into greased cupcake liners until the liners are just halfway full. Bake cupcakes for 22-27 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 10 minutes in the cupcake tin, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, at least another 10 minutes, before frosting.
In a large bowl, add your chunks of butter and blood orange zest. Beat with a hand mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add in cream cheese, and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes until well combined.
Add in orange extract, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and mix until combined. Slowly add in the blood orange juice and alternate with powdered sweetener until desired consistency and taste are reached.
After cupcakes have cooled completely, top with frosting and a blood orange garnish if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Do not freeze cupcakes once frosted. Enjoy!
Why Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour For The Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes?
We absolutely love baking with Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond flour for all of our low carb and gluten free recipes. It's truly a superior low carb flour.
This Super-Fine Almond Flour is made with California-grown almonds that have been blanched and ground into a very fine meal. It makes the ideal 1:1 substitute for traditional all purpose flour, and it's perfect for gluten free baking. It's paleo friendly, low carb and keto friendly and totally grain free. We love the very fine grind on this almond flour, making these cupcakes easy to sift and combine.
Do I Need To Use Xanthan Gum In These Cupcakes?
The short answer is no, you don't have to, but we do highly recommend using xanthan gum in these gluten free chocolate cupcakes. Xanthan gum is definitely recommended for this recipe, but we would say it’s not 100% necessary.
If you don’t have it, don’t fret too much. We love using a small amount of Bob's Red Mill xanthan gum in our baking because it helps mimic the gluten that our recipes are lacking, and it holds our baked goods together well.
Xanthan gum is totally safe to eat, paleo approved, gluten free and actually totally vegan! It makes a great substitute for gelatin in many recipes, and we love to use it for these gluten free blood orange chocolate cupcakes.
If you opt to leave it out, just be aware that these cupcakes will become more crumbly, but they will still taste really good! Basically, we think you should get some xanthan gum to make your life easier! It will make your baked goods have the texture of "the real thing" that you've been craving.
Why Dutch Process Cocoa?
We much prefer Dutch process cocoa when baking a lot of our chocolate recipes. Dutch process cocoa starts with cocoa beans that have been treated with an alkaline solution. Basically, this strips the cocoa powder of its acidity, making it neutral. Since the baking cocoa is neutral, it won't react with baking soda like regular natural cocoa does. Dutch process cocoa is dark in color, and has a very mild yet rich flavor.
In this recipe we opted for Dutch process because we have a lot of added acidity from the fresh squeezed blood orange juice, and we didn't need to add another chemical reaction into the mix! Baking is truly a science, and we tried a lot of things before we finally got these cupcakes just right.
Everything that you add to the batter should be intentional, and because of the high acidity already present in the batter, we used a mixture of baking soda and baking powder to make the cupcakes rise. Baking soda is a base, and the baking powder and orange juice are acidic, so when they combine, they create bubbles that make these cupcakes rise!
The Dutch process cocoa we used pretty much just adds color and flavor, and then the chemical reaction comes into play with the leavening agents. In this instance, we're not sure if you can easily substitute regular natural unsweetened cocoa powder for Dutch process, because we haven't tried it ourselves.
If you want to try to use natural cocoa instead of Dutch process, here is a helpful guide for you to figure out how to do that, although we can't guarantee the results (because again, of the added acid from the orange juice!)
Can I Use Any Orange in Place of Blood Orange?
Yes, you can, we think, although we don't have a running total of the acidity levels of every kind of orange off the top of our head. The acidity of various types of oranges might affect how your cupcakes rise. It could also make your cupcakes fall flat.
We had the problem of our cupcakes falling flat a couple of times while testing this recipe until we got the ratio just right. Blood orange juice could probably pretty easily be substituted for any other type of orange in this recipe, but we do prefer blood oranges because they are just so beautiful, and the flavor is slightly sweeter than many other varieties.
🍽More Recipes To Try
Baking low carb and gluten free with Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour is easy. Check out some of our favorite recipes!
- Gluten Free Keto Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars
- Keto Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Plum Crumble Bars (Low Carb, Gluten Free)
- Keto Apple Crumble Bars
Want to get supplies for this recipe or shop our keto kitchen or pantry? We've linked our favorites above and right here in our Amazon Store! A Full Living is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate program, an affiliate advertising program designed to promote a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking products to amazon.com.
We only share products we use and love. It doesn't cost you anything extra to shop using our links, but we earn a small commission that helps us keep this site going!
If you get a chance to try this recipe, let us know what you think, would ya?! Leave us a comment, or catch up with us on Facebook or Instagram, or pin to your favorite Pinterest board for later. We love sharing your versions of our creations over on Instagram @afullliving!
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Until Next Time,
Briana & Chamere
Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free, Low Carb)
For the dark chocolate blood orange cupcakes:
- 2.5 cups Bob's Red Mill superfine almond flour (280 grams)
- 1 cup granulated or powdered erythritol or sweetener of choice (280 grams)
- ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (48 grams)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but deepens the chocolate flavor)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon Bob's Red Mill xanthan gum (to bind the cupcakes)
- 8 ounces sour cream, room temp
- 1 tablespoon blood orange zest (zest of 1 large blood orange)
- 4 ounces blood orange juice, fresh squeezed
- 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 2 whole eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
For the blood orange cream frosting:
- 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks (12 tablespoons)
- 1-2 cups powdered erythritol, (use as much as you need to achieve desired texture) (For a stiffer frosting good for decorating, use 2 cups of powdered sweetener. 1 cup of erythritol makes a pretty thin frosting.)
- 2-3 ounces blood orange juice, fresh squeezed, added slowly (Add blood orange juice slowly, because it will make the cream cheese frosting more liquid.)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F, and line cupcake tins with liners. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes. Spray the liners with baking spray and set aside.
- Sift your dry ingredients and sweetener into a large bowl (almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, kosher salt and xanthan gum) into a bowl. Whisk well to ensure there are no clumps. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract, orange extract, blood orange zest and blood orange juice until combined a nice pink color. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs until just combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches, mixing by hand using a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Using a cookie scoop, spoon batter into greased cupcake liners until the liners are just halfway full. Bake cupcakes for 22-27 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 10 minutes in the cupcake tin, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely, at least another 10 minutes, before frosting.
To make the blood orange cream cheese frosting:
- In a large bowl, add your chunks of butter and blood orange zest. Beat with a hand mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add in cream cheese, and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes until well combined.
- Add in orange extract, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and mix until combined. Slowly add in the blood orange juice and alternate with powdered sweetener until desired consistency and taste are reached.
- After cupcakes have cooled completely, top with frosting and a blood orange garnish if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Do not freeze cupcakes once frosted. Enjoy!
These nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy and are only estimates. We cannot guarantee the accuracy.