Citrus-Olive Oil Cupcakes

May 23, 2011

Bear with me on this one.  I know the idea of making a dessert with olive oil sounds rather strange.  After all, olive oil is largely thought of as a savory ingredient, lending its characteristic nutty-grassy flavor to vinaigrettes and pastas.  But, on the other side of that nutty-grassy flavor is a delicious fruity flavor, with smooth buttery accents.  It is those flavors that pair so wonderfully with desserts.

In this cupcake, the olive oil is paired with citrus flavors, namely orange liqueur, orange juice, and lemon zest.  Somehow the orange liqueur and the sugar rise to the top to create an almost brulee like top layer on the cup cake that ads a delicious orangy-sugary crunch!  It’s delicious!  The olive oil ads a rich complexity in the background that keeps the cupcake from being too sweet or too unidimensional.  The almonds in this dish contribute a nice crunch to the cupcake.

Because the olive oil is a key ingredient in this dish, it is very important to use high quality, flavorful olive oil.  The oil should definitely be extra virgin–the first press of the olive to extract the oil.  I recommend going to a store with a wide variety of oils and tasting them and buying the one you enjoy the most.  Then try making these cakes.  You won’t regret it.

Citrus-Olive Oil Cupcakes

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: See noteTotal:

Deliciously sweet and intriguingly savory citrus-olive oil cupcakes. They have a crunchy top and moist center and are absolutely wonderful.

You'll Need...

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting on top


  1. Position an oven rack to the middle and preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, milk, liqueur, orange juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl until well blended.  In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until no lumps remain.  Your batter will be very wet.  Don't worry, that's what it is supposed to look like.  Fold in the almonds.
  4. Line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  Fill the liners until they are about 2/3 of the way full or about 1/2 inch from the top of the liner.  Don't overfill otherwise they will spill over the top.  Pop into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15-20 mins.  Check with thin sharp knife or toothpick and when it comes out clean pull out of the oven.  Let cool for 20 mins, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Additional Notes

This recipe can also be made into one larger 10" cake.  I tend to third the recipe, in which case it makes 10 cupcakes.

Adapted from a recipe I found on several years ago.


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