Friday, February 4, 2011

Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes!
You get the idea.

It all started with a bunch of tangerines that I had laying around that I still hadn't eaten. Trying to be healthier by buying healthy foods means nothing if you never eat them but it made me feel healthier nonetheless. Anyways, the leftover tangerines made me want to try to make an orange flavored cupcake.

Most of the recipes that I've found for an orange cupcake (including the one I used from this book) are the same: make normal cupcakes but instead of adding the vanilla, use orange juice/orange jest/orange flavoring. Same for orange frosting, adding it instead of the vanilla.

I wished that I had used less flour than the recipe had called for as they weren't as nice and fluffy as I would have liked.
My favorite step is adding sugar to the melted butter. I always cheat and melt my butter all of the way so that you don't have to cream and sift.

Yum!! Have you ever tasted the batter when it's just butter and sugar? It sounds strange but it is amazingly delicious!

Okay, back to baking. Here is just the normal cake batter (and the millions of measuring cups I had to use...luckily Will did the dishes for me!! :)).

I split the batter into two bowls. (And made kind of a mess...).

Next came the oranges. I wasn't really sure how I was going to do it. I wanted to use real, pure orange (tangerine, actually) juice without very much pulp getting into the batter. I decided to just cut off a little slice of the orange with a knife and squeeze out the juice. It actually worked pretty well.

I squeezed the oranges directly into the batter because a little bit of pulp didn't bother me. All together I used a total of 5 tangerines but I didn't really get much juice out of any of them.
Once the batter passed the taste test and seemed to taste distinctly orange I added some red and yellow food coloring to dye the batter orange. This way I could keep track of both kinds and the cupcakes felt more legitimate.
At this step I was really nervous about the cupcakes as the batter tasted really acidic and tart and didn't have a good overall flavor. Also, the normal vanilla cupcake mix that I had made and set aside (that's why there were two bowls pictured above) was really thick for some reason. I added about 2 tablespoons of oil to the recipe (which I'll attach here soon) and still the cupcakes were too dense and almost tasted overdone. The orange cupcakes however did turn out pretty well despite how the batter tasted.
Once again using the princess cupcake lines, I filled each cupcake with half of the regular vanilla/yellow cake cupcake and half with the orange cupcake mix.
Then, using a toothpick I swirled the two batters to make sure that they mixed and were cohesive. Next time I think I might try keeping them separated (see batter babies).

I also added some with just orange batter and I placed a tiny bit of vanilla cake mix in the center and made the batter into a heart shape with a toothpick.

These took some work, so I only made a couple. I used a knife and carefully spooned the cupcake mix into two oval globs and then connected and shaped them a bit using a clean toothpick.

Somehow they ended up being in three different sizes from smallest to largest, like Goldilocks and the three Cupcakes. (That should be a children's book).

The swirled cupcakes were hard to see that well once they baked, and they didn't rise as high as I would have liked.
I was skeptical about the hearts while they were baking.
But they turned out to be pretty cute! :)

Because the cupcakes were so dense, I decided to add some marshmallow cream to the centers to make them a bit more moist and to add in a "creamsicle" aspect.
When I cored the cupcakes (I took out a piece of the center by using a spoon) I didn't have much room because the cupcakes were so small, so I overflowed them with marshmallow cream and placed the cupcake pieces on top like you would when carving the top of a pumpkin.

The frosting became pretty difficult. I started out using just a vanilla frosting, thinking that the orange would be a bit overpowering and the vanilla would unify everything. However, the swirled cupcakes really didn't taste that orangey and I was slightly disappointed in the flavor.

I divided the frosting up to experiment with adding orange to the frosting without ruining a whole batch. The only problem was that there wasn't much of the vanilla frosting left so I decided to add the rest of the marshmallow cream into the frosting to make it go a bit farther and to change the texture and make it a bit softer and creamier.

The frosting was pretty thin but tasted delicious. It was very light in taste and texture but you could still tell that it wasn't by any means sugar-free.

The cupcakes however were just not pretty. Not even with sprinkles on them. I justified this though since they were "healthy" orange cupcakes and most healthy food isn't always attractive.

Next I tried making orange frosting. Just like I did with the batter I simply added in freshly squeezed orange juice. A lot of recipes suggested substituting the orange juice for the vanilla in both batter and frosting but I used both.

The orange frosting I tried as both a filling and a frosting. Again, while by itself it was very acidic and didn't taste that great, in the cupcake it had a really nice flavor and was actually pretty good. I poured the orange icing over top of the marshmallow cream mounds and then either frosted the cupcakes with the vanilla frosting or added more of the thicker orange frosting on top.
I think my favorite combination was an orange cupcake (the swirled batter had less flavor than the orange heart cupcakes) with an orange and marshmallow filling with the marshmallow/vanilla frosting on top.

They still weren't necessarily cute, but they looked slightly better than the first try:
I don't know that I would ever really make the orange creamsicle cupcakes again. I'm glad that I made them and they were pretty good overall but they were just a lot of work for a mediocre result. I think next time I'm going to stick to adding ingredients to a store bought cake mix until I find a cupcake recipe that I really like. They taste the same if not better and are so much faster to make. Not to mention they only cost about $2 a box. Anyways, the cupcakes are definitely worth trying but they aren't likely to become a new favorite anytime soon.  

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