Love and Olive Oil

Chocolate Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cupcakes

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Chocolate Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cupcakes

The Cupcake Hero theme for February is olive oil. After I heard it, I figured it would be absolutely ridiculous if I did NOT enter. You know, seeing as this blog’s name and header is practically and ode to the stuff.

I was slightly worried, replacing the typical canola oil with olive oil in this chocolate cupcake recipe. I wanted to buy light olive oil (as I’ve heard it makes a good substitute for canola), but alas, Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry it, and I didn’t want to make another stop for one measly thing. So pure it is. In the hierarchy of olive oils, there is extra virgin, which has the strongest flavor, followed by pure, and then light. I have a feeling there are probably some olive oil experts among us who could enlighten us as to the reason for these differences, and I’m not going to try to bs my way through an explanation.

All things considered I probably should have done a second batch of these with canola oil to compare. The chocolate is a strong flavor, and the orange is a very strong flavor, and as a result I couldn’t really taste if the swapping out of the oil made any difference whatsoever. So if the challenge was to create a cupcake that highlighted the flavor of olive oil, I clearly failed; however, if it was merely to use olive oil in a divine cupcake concoction, well, then I have done my job.

Chocolate Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cupcakes

I am a big fan of blood oranges. Not regular oranges, I’ll never sit down and just eat one. But blood oranges… they are different. When they appear for a few short weeks in the middle of winter, I’ll jump at the opportunity to make just about everything I possibly can with them. But I had yet to make them into cupcakes. I figured it was about damn time.

And because I’ve found that nothing is quite as satisfying as a chocolate cupcake (sorry vanilla), the chocolate blood orange cupcake was born. The sunset hued buttercream and the chocolate cake spiked with orange zest were a perfect match. Like they were made for each other.

Olive oil or not, these cupcakes are delicious. Unique and delicious. And you should totally vote for them in the Cupcake Hero battle for February. Voting ends February 21st so snap to it! :)

Chocolate Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cupcakes

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  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup pure olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream (as needed)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and zest until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).
  3. Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  4. For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar or added cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
All images and text © Lindsay Landis /

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  1. These were fabulous – thank you for the wonderful recipe. I replaced some of the frosting’s butter with almond butter, and it is now my favorite cupcake!

  2. These sound awesome! But when you say “coconut milk” do you mean the thicker canned coconut milk or like Silk refrigerated coconut milk which is really thin? Thanks!

  3. Oh my goodness. I made these tonight but instead of olive oil used coconut oil and instead of coconut milk used lite soy milk. They are so so so yummy and moist!

  4. these are AMAZING with Blood Orange Olive Oil that you can get from specialty Olive Oil shops! I made them both ways and the extra kick put them over the top- though I’d eat them both ways. :) In the NorthWest I recommend Coeur d’Alene Olive Oil Company.

  5. I loved the cupcakes, so fun to make. I am having trouble with your icing though. It seems to be slightly watery no matter how much confectioners sugar i put in. Does anyone else have this issue?

  6. Made these for a vegan colleague at work. Everyone raved about them. Perfect flavour and texture..Yum!!!

  7. Whenever I need an excellent vegan cake recipe, yours is the one I turn to. I love these.

  8. I made these for my coworkers on board and I had to make extra batches. Even the guys who don’t like sweets too much loved them. Great recipe.

  9. Hello,
    I may be able to shed a little light on the subject of where olive oils get their various names.
    “Virgin” olive oil comes from the first press (or squishing) of the olives, that is why is has the strongest flavor. “Pure” is the second press and “light” is the third and so on.
    You can think of it as making tea with the same tea bag three or four times; the first cup will be the strongest and have the most flavor.

    I hope that helped and love your blog!

    • Jillian, as your post was from over four years ago you probably already know some or all of this, however I just came upon this thread and would like to expand on your olive oil comment for Lindsay and future readers.   “VIRGIN” olive oil is produced solely by mechanical means — without heat and without chemical such as hexane and benzene. “EXTRA VIRGIN” is a superior quality olive oil made using this same process.  “PURE” is an unfortunate marketing term which is a euphemism for REFINED.  Olive oil that is unfit for human consumption, perhaps rancid or produced with rotten fruit must be refined and deodorized to be edible.  All aromas, all flavors, and all nutrients are stripped and what remains is an odorless, flavorless fat with no nutritional value.  LITE or LIGHT olive oil is refined olive oil which has a bit of virgin added back for flavor, however there is not standard which says how much or of what quality.  If you are purchasing olive oil for health, do not expect it from pure or light olive oil.  If you are purchasing olive oil for flavor, keep in mind that olives are a fruit and there are thousands of varieties, hundreds of which are in commercial production.  As with cacao and grapes, olives can express a wide variety of fruity, grassy, sweet, bitter and many other nuanced ripe and green characteristics.  Fresh extra virgin olive oil can make excellent pairings with citrus and/or chocolate.  Experiment with different chocolates and different oils in your baking — not all of them are the same.

  10. I made these last night but I used regular oranges insted of blood oranges and they turned out fantastic!!! Thanks for such an awesome idea!!

  11. I can’t take my eyes of your lovely cupcake.

  12. I got a last-minute vote in…and it looks like you are winning! Hooray!

  13. I’m baking a chocolate cake, but have no vegetable oil. Can I just use olive oil instead? BTW that looks yummy.

  14. just made these cupcakes yesterday…. totally awesome! i loved the natural pink color from the blood orange, and the flavor was great

  15. oh WOW, these look divine.

    So funny about substituting olive oil for canola, as I did this once for friendship bread (which is more like a pound cake sweetness) out of complete desperation and it was AWFUL. It was pure olive oil, oh but you could taste every bit of it and with the sugar and spices and, oh, I could gag just thinking about it.

    So glad yours turned out!


  16. Emily – we usually eat the cupcakes for 2-3 days afterwords. This type of buttercream (American) will get a slight crust on it if stored uncovered, so you could keep them in an airtight container to keep it soft (though do not store fondant decorations, if any, in an airtight container). A bakery box also works well for overnight storage and keeps the cupcakes fairly moist, no need to refrigerate. :)

  17. Oooh, your cupcakes are so pretty I HAVE to make them! Quick question, these cupcakes will last a day in the fridge (frosted), right? I’m planning on making them for a friend’s birthday but the weather sounds like it might not cooperate… Thanks! :)

  18. i wonder which brands of olive oil…extra virgin…anyone can recommend that is nice for dessert making.

    i also wonder why no one seems to state that when making frosting with confectioner’s sugar it is always best to beat the oil (butter) and confectioner’s sugar over hot water. confectioner’s sugar contains cornstarch and can have a funny, unpleasant taste unless “cooked” out by the heat.

  19. I just found your blog and I love it! We have a local olive oil/vinegar shop here in Bar Harbor, Maine, and I think you would just love it. I am doing a post about it next week, with a giveaway, and I will be sure to send you the link so that you can read about them. The store is set up so you can do different tastings. They have everything from garlic and herb oil to blood orange olive oil (fused, so the flavors are pressed with the olives). Yum!

  20. I use the extra-light olive oil in my baking quite often because of the benefits for healthy cholesterol. I originally thought it was a lower calorie oil until I found out that all oils are 140 calories per teaspoon. ;P You are SO gifted with cupcakes, Lindsay! Beautiful!

  21. I’m so glad I stumbled upon you! This looks like an amazing recipe that both myself, my husband, and my 2 year old (who is allergic to dairy and egg) will enjoy! And even though it doesn’t have the nasty word “vegan” in the title, they are! So she can eat them! Yay!

    My lame Kroger didn’t have blood oranges, so I’m trying the recipe out with minnelos. Just put them in the oven and I can attest to the fact that batter tastes AMAZING!

    Thanks for sharing.


  22. I loved these from the moment I saw them! Baked them today with ground flax seed instead of the almond meal (my market didn’t have almond) and used more zest than recipe asked for. They were perfect! Can’t wait to share the cupcakes with others.

  23. Blood orange infused olive oil? That sounds absolutely amazing! and I think it was MADE for these cupcakes. :)

  24. Those are SO beautiful!

  25. Blood oranges are the only oranges I like… and mixing them with chocolate sounds like a great idea. I also happen to have a bottle of blood orange infused olive oil… I wonder if that would work in the recipe.

  26. Those are absolutely beautiful. I love the sugar flower on top, so sweet.

    I’ve subbed olive oil in baked goods before when I didn’t have a lighter oil on hand and I’ve never noticed a discernible difference. I would think the other flavors in the cake would have to be very, very mild for the olive oil to show through. Now you have me thinking…may have to tinker in the kitchen today.

  27. We are so into blood oranges right now. We want to try this recipe this weekend! We just brainedstormed a valentine dessert, Citrus Berry Parfait. Yours sounds so amazing because it has chocolate and blood orange all in one cupcake. Thanks for the recipe!

  28. These look beautiful & I bet they taste even better.

  29. i think u have done cupcake hero proud with this cupcake!

  30. Gorgeous! I need to get my hands on some blood oranges! btw Did you upload 1-2 pictures to the flickr group yet? Just wanna make sure I didn’t miss them. Thanks for participating in Cupcake Hero::February!

  31. I’ve been using olive oil in my baked good lately and have been happy with results. Those cupcakes are darling!

  32. Katie – I have never personally done it, but I don’t see why you couldn’t substitute normal milk in for the coconut. :) Can’t hurt! As for the almond meal, if you have almonds you can always very finely grind them (that’s basically what almond meal is), or use any other kind of finely ground nut. Or just leave it out completely. It does add a bit of texture and flavor that I love, but the cupcakes will fare just fine without it. :)

  33. gorgeous! I can’t wait to try it!

  34. These are the prettiest cupcakes EVER!

  35. They look great. But I’m also wondering how you made those pretty flowers.

  36. Those are beautiful! How did you make those gorgeous flowers?

  37. These look divine. Need to make this for my wife’s 42 birthday. Thank you.

  38. I would never have thought to add olive oil in any cupcake to be quite honest but whatever the taste they sure look absolutely gorgeous!

  39. These look AMAZING :) All of your cupcakes do. However, I have a question. Perhaps you’ve addressed this before and I’ve missed it, if so, I’m sorry to bug you about it. But I was wondering if you can successfully substitute regular milk for coconut milk in your recipes? And if there are any possible substitutes for almond meal? I always want to make your cupcakes but rarely have all of the ingredients on hand! Any ideas?

  40. Your cupcakes look so pretty – they make me smile when I see them.
    I have never made or had a cupcake with Olive oil so should be interesting.

  41. These are pretty cupcakes! I hope I can have the time to make some. Thanks for these nice cupcakes!

  42. you have a very nice header, i envy that. where did you get the font? i love the topping of your cupcake, its floral design. so nice. i must try this recipe. good for my little girls. ^_^

  43. what an awesome flavor combination! I love blood orange, and look at those colors. Love this blog!

  44. I have always used olive oil in my cupcakes without even thinking. Last time I made them, it seemed like the frosting “melted” right off of the cupcakes. Someone thought it might have been a reaction to the olive oil in the cupcakes. Anyone ever experienced that?

  45. These look absolutely beautiful. And the flavor combination sounds delicious. Hope you win!

  46. I’ve used EVOO in a brownie recipe before, I didn’t really notice the difference. This sounds super yummy, though!

  47. Yes. Be sure to remind us; I’ll vote! These are so gorgeous!

    I’ve never baked with olive oil – other than savory muffins – because I was afraid of the flavor profile. Nice to know it’s an option since I always have olive oil in the cupboard but not necessarily vegetable or canola oil.

  48. The topping is delightfully amazing. I love how it compliments the cupcake itself. All this and some oranges make for a “picture perfect shot.”

    Judging by the looks, it is no doubt irresistible.

  49. They look so good! Love the floral touch!

  50. Beautiful cupcakes and chocolate and orange, with or without olive oil, is a perfect match! Good luck in contest. Do remind when it is time to vote.

  51. Those look amazing!! I hope I can try this recipe soon. :)

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