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!
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 24 liners.
- Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in sugar and mix until well incorporated and light yellow in color.
- Add in oil and make sure to mix until well incorporated.
- 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.
- Gently fold in fresh cranberries.
- Divide batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops are springy to the touch.
- 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
- Mix together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer
- Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed
- Mix in vanilla extract until smooth
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.
If you’ve ever bought vanilla beans at the grocery store you know that you’ll pay at least $12 for a little test tube of two vanilla beans. I find this pretty outrageous and $12 is pretty much the minimum I’ve seen them for! In reading a few cupcake/baking blogs recently, I discovered that you can easily make your own vanilla extract. I was super excited because those little bottles are pretty expensive as well. Man, you’d think vanilla was gold or something.
Anyway, my problem with making the vanilla extract was that those beans are so expensive and you need six beans for this! Now I’m not the person who got a perfect score on the math section of the SATs but I’m pretty sure that’s about $36 just for the beans! So not worth it. Or is it? Along with discovering I could make my own vanilla extract, I also discovered that I could order vanilla beans in bulk on Amazon!!
I spent a long time on Amazon trying to decide which beans to go with until I ultimately decided on these from JR Mushroom and Specialities. I mainly went with these ones because 1/4 pound of beans would give me enough to make some extract and have plenty left over to use for vanilla bean cupcakes, frostings, etc. I couldn’t believe that I ordered them on Friday and they were on my front door the next day with free shipping! Now, I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that I live in Boston and this company is located right neat by in Charlestown, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s good service too. When I took the padded envelope out of my mail box, I could smell the delicious vanilla smell through the packaging and couldn’t wait to start making my extract.
Making your own extract is so super easy, you’re not going to believe it. Basically all you really need is some vodka, a bunch of vanilla beans, a jar, and some time. I just the recipe I found here and doubled it. Pretty much every recipe that I found online was the same, although some call for cutting the beans and others don’t. I went with a recipe that kept the beans whole just because I figured it would be one less step for me.
So, in two months time I will have my very own delicious vanilla extract to bake with. And when I’m done with the beans I’m going to put them into a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar! It really doesn’t get better than that.