Monday, June 13, 2011

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes

I was in a cupcake-ey mood this morning, and asked my friends what they'd like to see me make. There were so many good ideas that it was hard to pick just one! But this one sounded like the perfect summertime cupcake, fresh and flavorful.

The Cake

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder*
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted orange sherbet
1/2 cup orange soda

Beat the butter until creamy and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream for a good 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Do not cheat on time! Dump in the oranges, mix them in. The beaters will chop them for you and the longer you mix, the tinier the pieces will be. I wanted them tiny.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix your melted sherbet and the orange soda. Add both mixtures alternately into to egg/sugar stuff while beating. Don't over beat this part.

Scoop into cupcake liners, about 2/3's full. Don't be tempted to squeeze the last bit into a cup or two, they'll overflow and you'll feel silly. Stick it in a baggy in the fridge and bake it later! This recipe makes just over 24 beautiful cupcakes. :-)

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool completely, and if you want you can cover them and let them sit for a few hours. That sometimes helps the texture of a cake or cupcake. Sort of like when you let a roast sit before carving.

The frosting

This is fun. This frosting is a good old-fashioned Italian Meringue Buttercream. Not the powdered sugar stuff that has a tendency towards being gritty. I assure you, this is one you want to try! And don't panic, it will come together.

1 cup corn syrup
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large eggs)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1 lb butter, room temperature

Place corn syrup in a pan, heavy bottomed is prefferable, but if not then just keep a close eye on it. Turn it onto about medium.

Dump the egg whites into your mixing bowl. Beat on medium until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to high and add the sugar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. In my kitchenaid it only took a minute or two.

By this time your corn syrup may or not have bubbles, turn it up higher and let it come to a boil. Once it's got good, steady and decent sized bubbles, let it boil for about 1 minute. If your pan doesn't have a pouring spout, transfer the syrup to a glass measuring cup.

With the mixer running, pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream into the meringue. Try not to get it on the beaters or you'll have little whispies flying around. Keep beating until the mixture has cooled, body temperature is fine.

Once it's cooled, add your butter, 1 tbsp at a time. It may lose volume, that's fine. It may even curdle. That's fine too. Just keep beating and it will magically turn into frosting, right when you aren't looking! I promise. It may take a few minutes. :-)

At this point, you can use it as is, which is delicious. Or what I did: Scrape off about 1/4 cup of frozen sherbet, add it a little at a time. Then I added about 2 tbsp of orange soda and beat that in. I didn't want really strong flavor, just a hint of orange cream.

After frosting the cupcakes, I topped them with a piece of mandarin orange. Nice little POW to the final mix of flavor!

**To quickly bring eggs and even butter to room temperature, place in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. Not too warm though, or you'll melt the butter.

1 Tasty Tidbits:

Jackie said...

Orange is one of my favortie flavors and these sound delicious. I will be trying this recipe in the near future. Thanks for sharing.