Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes with Lemon Custard Buttercream and Lemon Glaze

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  36 cupcakes
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cooling and Chilling Time:  2 hours Cook Time:  45 minutes

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes with Lemon Custard Buttercream and Lemon Glaze

Most folks don’t think about lemon and chocolate together, but I ran into it quite a few years ago while interviewing a particularly creative Spanish chef who played with chocolate dust and lemon foam on a table for dessert. I had never thought about it before, but since chocolate and orange make such a great combo, I gave it shot. Turned out that lemon and chocolate were really great together, and now I use this flavor pairing often. These cupcakes are seriously yummy, guys. Try them. You will love them.


Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes:

3 cups (390 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour

½ cup (48 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt

5 large eggs

3 cups (612 grams) granulated sugar

1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

1½ cups buttermilk


Lemon Buttercream Custard:

5 large egg yolks

Zest of 4 large lemons (see Kitchen Tips)

⅓ cup (122 grams) cornstarch

1⅔ cups heavy cream

½ cup (104 grams) granulated sugar

Juice of 4 large lemons

¾ stick (⅜ cup/85 grams/3 ounces/6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (124 grams) confectioners’ sugar


Lemon Glaze:

1½ cups (186 grams) confectioners’ sugar

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon (see Kitchen Tips)  



Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray 2 (18-cup) muffin tins (see Kitchen Tips) with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt onto a large sheet of parchment paper or large bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix at medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until well mixed and pale yellow in color. Add one-third of the flour mixture, then the oil, another third of the flour mixture, the buttermilk, and the remaining flour, mixing between each addition just to blend. Mix at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Transfer the cupcakes, still in the pan, to a wire rack, and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, place on a cooling rack and let cool for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until completely cooled.
  6. While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, prepare the Lemon Buttercream Custard. First make an ice bath by filling a bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside.
  7. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, lemon zest and cornstarch and whisk until smooth and well blended. Set aside.
  8. Pour the heavy cream and sugar into a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, whisk to dissolve the sugar, and bring to gentle boil, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (see Kitchen Tips), and pour the whole thing back into the pot. Stirring with a spoon, bring the mixture to a boil again. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon (being careful not to let it become scrambled eggs). Remove from the heat immediately and set the bowl securely into the ice bath, so that none of the ice water gets into the custard. Let cool completely.
  9. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with with a whip attachment (or a mixing bowl if you are whisking by hand) and whisk for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the cooled cream mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the lemon juice and whisk again. The mixture might “break” and come back together; keep whisking for 5 to 6 minutes, until pale in color, and thick and creamy like a pudding. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until fully chilled.
  11. Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth and thick, with a consistency like paste (thicker than glue), adjusting with more sugar or juice as necessary.
  12. When the cupcakes and custard have cooled, fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip with 1 to 1½ cups of the custard. Fit a cooling rack into a rimmed baking sheet. Gently poke a hole in the top of a cupcake with the tip of the pastry bag, pushing it to the center, and gently pipe 1 to 1½  tablespoons of custard into it (do not overfill—it will splurt everywhere!). It will feel heavy in your hands. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes and custard and place onto the prepared cooling rack.
  13. Add the glaze to another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip and gently drizzle the glaze over the cupcakes to create a decorative design. Let cool completely.

Kitchen Tips

  1. If you have standard 12-cup muffin tins, then work in batches, baking 2 at a time.
  2. If your bowl wobbles around precariously while you are whisking with one hand and pouring with the other, dampen a kitchen towel and fashion it into a round “nest” on your kitchen counter. Nestle the bowl into it securely and continue whisking and pouring.
  3. These cupcakes were heavily adapted from an orange-olive oil cupcake that appeared on the wonderful Leite’s Culinaria.

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