Cupcakes—Perfect for Celebrations!

“All cupcakes are ready to party,” says my friend Elinor Klivans in her popular book, Cupcakes!, but some, she continues, seem just made for celebrations. That’s what I had in mind while working on the recipe for Orange Cupcakes with Creamy White Chocolate Icing.
Tender, moist, and scented with orange and cardamom, these golden little cakes are topped with swirls of snowy white icing made with cream cheese, white chocolate, and butter. There’s a generous accent of orange in the frosting as well to carry out the fresh citrus theme.  
Although I never met a cupcake I didn’t like, these definitely fall into the special occasion category.

And, who doesn’t’ have a graduation, a wedding, or an anniversary on the calendar for spring? Add these petit cakes to your menu and watch them take on a starring role!

The following recipe yields 12 standard size cupcakes, but you can easily double of triple the amounts when entertaining a crowd. Two more bonuses, these cupcakes can be prepared a day in advance and also travel well.
Orange Cupcakes with Creamy White Chocolate Icing
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 cups sifted cake flour  (Sift flour and then measure it.)
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces white chocolate broken into small pieces
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and broken into small pieces
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
Finely julienned orange peel for garnish, optional
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line one 12-mold standard (3-inch diameter) muffin tin with silver or paper liners.
2. Whisk egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the orange juice together. Set aside.
3. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Turn mixer on medium speed and add butter and remaining orange juice and orange zest. Beat 1 1/2 minutes, stopping machine to scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula when necessary. Then add the egg/orange juice mixture in three equal additions, beating 15 to 20 seconds after each and stopping machine to scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.
3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until cupcakes are golden, and spring back when lightly touched, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove and cool 1 to 2 minutes in pan. Gently lift cupcakes from pan. Cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
5. For icing melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water, stirring constantly until almost melted. Remove and continue to stir until chocolate is completely smooth. Alternatively, melt chocolate in microwave according to manufacturer’s directions. Cool to room temperature.
6..With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain, 2 to 4 minutes. On lower speed, beat in melted chocolate, stopping machine to scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. Beat in butter, orange zest and juice, and orange liqueur.
7. Ice each cupcake with about 1 1/2 tablespoons icing and place on a platter. If desired, garnish each with julienned orange peel. Refrigerate until icing is set, and then cover with plastic wrap. (Cupcakes can be prepared 1 day ahead. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)  Makes 12 cupcakes.
Note: Make sure the ground cardamom you use is very fresh. It should have a strong, fragrant scent when the jar or bag is opened.

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One thought on “Cupcakes—Perfect for Celebrations!

  1. I made the orange cupcakes for my husband’s birthday. I would love to send you a picture. They were wonderful!

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