Neither of us have mentioned on here much, if at all, that we love to read. If I were to be completely honest, I (Celine) like reading better than cooking. That may come as a surprise since I have a cooking blog! Well, during the past couple of weeks in English we spent some time with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I read Jane Eyre back in 7th grade but at that time I could not appreciate its greatness. Now I do! Talk about a book the draws you in. It’s runner-up for my favorite book ever besides Gone with the Wind (don’t let the 1,000+ pages intimidate you! Every time I read it, I feel like it’s ended too soon). The classics cannot be beat.
What does this have to do with cupcakes? Not much, except that elegant books go along quite nicely with an elegant dessert! So here is an elegant one: a tender orange cupcake topped with some fluffy vanilla bean buttercream. This is a lovely cupcake, ideal for any sort of gathering in the summer. We topped the cupcakes with a light sprinkling of orange zest, although sprinkles would be good here if you are planning to serve the cupcakes to kids who are pickier. The original recipe called for candied orange slices, but we didn’t have the small oranges needed so we didn’t make them. You will not be disappointed with these cupcakes no matter what garnish!
Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes
Recipe from Annie’s Eats
For the cupcakes:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
4 large eggs
1½ cups heavy cream (or whole milk- we used whole milk)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
For the candied oranges (optional):
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups water
About 30 small, thin orange slices
For the frosting:
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pods and add to the bowl. Add the orange zest. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the cream, orange juice, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl, alternating with the cream mixture. Mix each addition on low speed just until incorporated, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Divide the mixture between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.
For the candied orange slices:
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange slices to the mixture so that they are in a single layer, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, turning the slices at least once so both sides are candied. Remove from the heat. Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use.
For the frosting:
Place the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the bowl and add in the salt. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as necessary, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with desired tip. Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake and garnish with a candied orange slice. You can also top with fresh orange zest or sprinkles, or nothing at all! Enjoy!