Cranberry Orange Cupcakes

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching…seriously, where did November go?  I wasn’t planning on necessarily making any Thanksgiving cupcakes but we were having a potluck at work so of course I was going to bring cupcakes.  Knowing that someone was already bringing a pumpkin dessert…pumpkin cheesecake which was amazing!…I started racking my brain for something that would be Thanksgivingish.  Cranberries!  And orange with cranberry is a match mead in heaven!

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For Cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries tossed with 1 Tbsp. flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 24 liners.
  2. Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in sugar and mix until well incorporated and light yellow in color.
  3. Add in oil and make sure to mix until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add into the egg, sugar, and oil mixture and alternate with the milk until well combined.  Then add in orange juice and zest and mix well.
  5. Gently fold in fresh cranberries.
  6. Divide batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops are springy to the touch.

Cranberry orange

For Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Mix together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer
  2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed
  3. Mix in vanilla extract until smooth

Cranberry orange

The bitterness of the cranberries mostly cooks out but gives it enough flavor to pair nicely with the sweetness of the batter and the orange.  This cupcake pairs very nicely with the  mostly neutral flavor of the cream cheese frosting.  But I did consider making a spiced version of the frosting with cinnamon and a bit of ginger which would probably go well.  Whatever you choose for the frosting, these will make a great end to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

Pear Spice Cupcakes with Honey Mascarpone Frosting

FallFall is the best time of year.  It’s finally cool and no longer humid, boot wearing weather!  Plus it’s leaf peeping time!  Looking at the beautiful colors of the fall is one of the few times that I love the weather in New England.  

Pear

Going apple picking is one of my favorite fall activities.  If you spend any time on Pinterest you know that apples and pumpkins get all the credit in the fall recipe arena.  The apple and pumpkin definitely dominate most of the recipes you see at this time of the year.  But everyone forgets that fall is also pear season!  I love pear picking just as much as apple picking.  Plus pear recipes at this time of year seem so much more unique than an apple or pumpkin recipe.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by Annie Eats]

Makes 16 cupcakesPear spice

  • 3 medium pears peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla bean paste (found on Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the pears, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mixture until the pears are fork tender, about 7-8 minutes.  Set pear mixture aside.
  3.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light in color.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  6. Add in half of the flour mixture into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture and mix to combine.  Add in half of the milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Fold in cooked pears until well combined in the batter.
  8. Divide batter among the cupcake pans and cook the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For FrostingPear spice

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (as necessary)
  1. Cream together butter and mascarpone cheese until combined.  Add in honey.
  2. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well combined.
  3. If the mixture is too thick, add in a little bit of milk at a time until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Frost cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste like a bite of fall!  The pears make it so these cupcakes almost can’t dry out.  I had one when they were fresh and one from the freezer a week later and they tasted just as good as the first day.  The honey mascarpone frosting is pretty sweet but the actual cupcake isn’t super sugary so it balances out when you eat them together.  I brought these cupcakes into work and someone told me the cupcakes reminded her of her childhood.  She couldn’t quite pin point why but I’m going to assume that is a good thing!

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

My mom is a big fan of key lime pie.  And I don’t blame her, a buttery graham cracker crust with a tart lime Key Limefilling, and soft whipped cream on top.  There’s a lot to like there if you make it right.  This year I wasn’t going to be able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom so I decided to drive down to Connecticut the weekend before for a surprise Mother’s Day celebration.  On a side note, you can see how overdue this post is since I’m talking about something that happened in May.  Since we weren’t going to be spending actual Mother’s Day together I wanted to make her some special key lime cupcakes based on one of her favorite desserts.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by Annie Eats]

Makes about 18 cupcakes

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5  Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Zest and juice of 4 key limes
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Key Lime

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with 18 liners.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.
  3. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom..
  4. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.
  5. For the cupcake batter , combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  6. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.
  7. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Add in the lime zest.
  8. Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  9. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  10. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • Zest of 6-8 key limes
  • 4 tbsp.  unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  1. In a saucepan, combine the eggs and sugar.  Whisk together until well blended.
  2. Whisk in the key lime juice.
  3. Place the pan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through.  Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly to avoid curdling the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the butter a little bit at a time, stirring in each addition until completely incorporated before adding more.  Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and a spoon or spatula leaves a path when drawn through it.
  5. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Cut holes in the center of your cupcakes and spoon or pipe in filling until it reaches the top of the cupcake.

For FrostingKey Lime

  • 1 Tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp.cold water
  • 1 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small dish and let sit for a few minutes until the gelatin absorbs the water.
  2. Microwave the gelatin for about 30 seconds at high heat.  The gelatin will be clear and melted.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream until it gets thick and starts to form peaks.
  4. Gradually add in your sugar.
  5. Mix in the melted gelatin and water mixture into the whipped cream.
  6. Add in vanilla and mix well.
  7. Pipe a ring of whipped cream frosting around the outer edge of the key lime cupcake so that you can see the lime filling in the center of the cupcake.

Key LimeThese cupcakes taste almost exactly like a slice of key lime pie!  I had seen other recipes that were just key lime flavored but I think the graham cracker crust on the bottom of these really gives them the essence of the pie.  They are tart and sweet with a little bit of crunch from the crust on the bottom.  I think my mom was very happy with her special Mother’s Day cupcakes.

If Life Gives You Limes, Make Margarita Cupcakes

Who doesn’t like a cold margarita on a hot summer day?  If you’re not a margarita lover you better stop right here because these are for those of us who not only like to drink their liquor but eat it.   

As usual, I got some inspiration from Martha for these cupcakes.  She has these beautiful orange vanilla bean cupcakes with candied oranges that I had been wanting to try.  Since it was summer time (back in the day when I actually made these) and I was bringing these to a BBQ I was pretty sure that orange vanilla bean cupcakes didn’t scream summer BBQ.  Sadly, I was still pretty desperate to make some candied citrus fruit so the wheels in my brain started turning.  Since my friends like a good frozen drink or three every now and, margaritas came to mind and these cupcakes were born!

Ingredients (Makes 24 cupcakes)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup tequila (plus at least a shot to drink while baking)

Directions

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir with a fork to blend.  
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest, lime juice, tequila, and vanilla.  
  4. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Be warned, these are pretty time consuming because they require you to put candied limes on top.  It’s a bit of a process, but this is how Martha does it: http://www.marthastewart.com/candied-citrus-slices  but she does it with oranges/grapefruit (I used about 4 limes for this).  You need to be able to cut the limes really thin for this, which is hard for me since I don’t really have sharp knives or  knife skills despite thinking I do from watching so much Top Chef.

While the limes are cooking in their little hot tub of sugar water, it’s time to make the frosting. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 zested limes
  • 3 tablespoons tequila

Directions

  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Fold in lime zest.  Stir in tequila one tablespoon at a time making sure frosting doesn’t get too runny.  Use immediately.

The cupcakes simply get frosted with a thin layer then the little beads are pipped on the edges with a #4 piping tip, which is pretty tedious and can practically make you go blind but looks to good, it’s worth almost losing my vision over it.  Top with one of those candied limes (I hope you took them off the stove to cool and didn’t forget about them!) and you’re good to go. 

I say all of my cupcakes are good, but I like them so I might as well give myself a little pat on the back right?  So, these were very good with a few minor problems.  I definitely didn’t cut those limes thin enough or cook them long enough for them to be eaten.  They did look great on top of the cupcakes, but I had to warn people to pick them off (but at this point they had drunk so many margaritas it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway).  My other issue was that I wouldn’t pair these with the 7-minute frosting if I was to make them again.  The frosting tasted a little too “eggy” to me so I’d definitely go with the Swiss meringue buttercream with the lime and tequila mixed in.

All in all though I’d say it was a success.  It was quite an adventure making these cupcakes but those candied fruit slices look so pretty!

xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake

Bananas for Cupcakes!

So these cupcakes aren’t the prettiest ones I’ve made by far, and yes the frosting looks like…I’m not going to go there.  But these cupcakes are awesome.  I love banana chocolate chip muffins, so it only seemed natural to make them into a cupcake.  Since the muffin is the ugly stepsister to the cupcake, I figured add a bit more sugar and slap on some frosting and we’ll call it a cupcake.

Ingredients

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 and 3/4 cups flour plus 1 tbsp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl combine flour (minus 1 tbsp.), sugar, baking power, baking soda, and salt.  In a medium sided bowl combine mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and butter.  With a rubber spatula, fold the banana mixture into the wet ingredients.  The batter should be a little chunky, do not over stir.

Meanwhile, mix chocolate chips with the remaining 1 tbsp. of flour to coat chips.  Carefully fold chocolate chips into the batter until just combined.  Fill cupcake tine 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minuted or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

These come out so delicious you could just eat them right away but don’t!  It’s not a real cupcake unless you have frosting, and you don’t want to be eating the ugly stepsister, do you?  The frosting is really key in this cupcake.

Ingredients

  • 2 and 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 6 tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanills extract

Directions

In a medium bowl sift together sugar and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl cream butter until smooth and gradually add in sugar mixture alternating with milk until smooth.  If too thick, more milk can be added in 1 tbsp. increments.  Beat in vanilla.

You’ve really got to make sure to frost these with plenty of frosting because lets face it, the chocolate/banana combination is almost as good as the chocolate/peanut butter combination…I said almost.  These cupcakes are good, and I mean super good.  The cake stays really moist and the chocolate chips are still just soft enough even after they’ve cooled.  These cupcakes are definitely one of my favorite that I’ve made because I really love the chocolate/banana combo.  Dare I say I might even like it more than chocolate/PB.  Shhhh…don’t tell my beloved peanut butter cups.  I’m not sure if people liked these as much as me, although they said they were really good.  I brought a bunch to work, but let’s face it, these people will eat anything sitting on the food table and the sweeter the better.

If your cupcake eaters are anything like me, they’ll go bananas for these (don’t groan at that, the pun was obviously intended).  I think these will be one of my favorite adventures to date, but who know what the future will hold.

xoxo,

~CurlyCupcake