Orange-Topped Black Bottom Cupcakes

Orange Black-Bottom Cupcakes

Orange Black-Bottom Cupcakes

Baseball fans are a highly superstitious bunch, and our household is no exception. Our San Francisco Giants won the pennant last night in a landslide victory against the Cardinals, and B and I are convinced that these cupcakes are part of the reason why. We were losing the series until I baked these beauties; after eating them, we’ve been unbeatable. When it comes to mystical game-winning powers, your mileage may vary, but if nothing else these cupcakes are guaranteed to be a magical eating experience.

Classic black-bottom cupcakes consist of a rich chocolate bottom and a cheesecake-like filling. I’ve modified the traditional recipe by using dark cocoa powder and adding a punch of orange to the cheesecake mixture, as well as using balsamic vinegar to bring out the bittersweet flavor of the dark chocolate and fruitiness of the citrus topping. The result is a beautifully balanced and surprisingly light dessert! The cake and filling are both moist and fluffy, while the richness of flavor means you can be satisfied with just one. And because these treats take advantage of a very simple cake recipe, they’re easy for anyone to make.

I was already thinking this recipe would be perfect for Halloween, but as you can see in the final result (top right), some of them turned out ghost-like, making them even more suited!


Orange Black-Bottom Cupcake Recipe

Black Bottom Cupcakes (Before Baking)

Black Bottom Cupcakes (Before Baking)


  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese (full-fat, low-fat, or Neufchâtel)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar


  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350° F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.

To make your creamsicle filling, you first need to reduce the orange juice by about half. (This will concentrate the flavor without making the topping too runny in your final product.) Measure your 1/2 cup of juice and pour it into a shallow pan. Simmer over medium heat until you have about 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool off while you cream together the cheese, egg, and extracts, just until combined. Beat in juice and sugar, and set aside while you make the cake batter.

Finished Orange Black-Bottom Cupcakes

Orange Black Bottom Cupcakes

For cake batter, sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients separately, then pour into the dry mixture and mix just until combined. Working quickly, distribute the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, then spoon the cheesecake topping to the center of the top of each cupcake. (Both mixtures should be fairly runny.) If you apply it to the center each time, the filling will naturally distribute both outwards and down into the cake itself.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the chocolate part of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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