Sunday, January 20, 2013


Over the past year, I've fostered an enormous love for baking. Although I've always had an inexorable sweet tooth, I've decided to posture not only as the baking beneficiary but the baker as well.  First starting with cupcakes, I gradually began deviating into more sophisticated treats, like truffles and one of my personal favorites, Mexican Wedding Cakes

My Mexican Wedding Cakes, made from scratch.

However, when it's time to celebrate a birthday, I always return to my absolute favorite: cupcakes. Although to many they're often deemed an exhausted fad, I beg to differ. Yes, here in L.A. we've witnessed (and indulged) in a wave of dessert trends: frozen yogurt, cupcakes, cake pops, and the ever-sensational macaroon. But, at the end of the day, nothing quite beats a freshly baked cupcake.

My chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting: for Him and for Her
Yesterday, it was my step-dad's birthday, so I decided to incorporate his favorite flavors by baking Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes. If you've ever been fortunate enough to taste the original Orange Creamsicle, you know that it's an ah-mazing blend of orange citrus with a creamy vanilla center. Although there are many ways to emulate this incredible taste, I decided to try this recipe here.


Although I always attempt to remain abstemious, I seldom hold back. After all, how am I to improve my baking endeavors without some [much] warranted self-critique? That being said, I truly think these cupcakes are worth reproducing. What I especially love about these miniature cakes are their texture. Rather than chomping down on the typical spongy cake, these had an unexpected twist. The orange zest added variation to the texture while simultaneously boosting the orange flavor. 

INGREDIENTS

Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda and salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar or vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoons orange extract
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk

Frosting
1 brick (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (optional)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Orange food coloring (or mix yellow and red)

Garnish
I used sprinkles that were readily available in my cupboard; however, you can use any garnish you'd like! I recommend topping the frosting with orange zest, orange sugar coated candy slices, or even edible flowers.

My Notes
I tend to use a lot of frosting on my cupcakes, so I tripled the frosting recipe described below. It's entirely up to you! Also, you might find it beneficiary to substitute all purpose flour for cake flour such as Swan's Cake Flour. Again, it's at your discretion.

DIRECTIONS 

For the Cupcakes
*Very important to follow 3, 4, and 5 as instructed!

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. 
2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. 
3. In a bowl, whisk flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt just until blended.
4. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat eggs, orange zest, vanilla, and orange extract until blended. Beat in 1 cup vanilla sugar. Beat in oil, then buttermilk, until blended.
5. On low speed, beat in flour mixture just until blended. 
6. Add the batter to the baking cups.
7. Bake 25 to 28 minutes until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
8. Remove to wire rack and let cool.
For the Frosting

1. Beat cream cheese, vanilla, orange extract and orange zest in a medium bowl with mixer on low speed to blend. 

2. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until fluffy. 

3. Beat in orange food coloring until desired hue is reached. 

4. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes until it's firm enough to spread.

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