Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
When I first started blogging I had no idea how tough it would be to maintain a regular posting schedule. I will never be one of those bloggers with a structured plan for categorized posts, although I am amazed by those who do it, such as Brown Eyed Baker and How Sweet It Is. Although there is still spontaneity in the recipes they post, I always look to their blog on certain days of the week, when I know they will be posting their weekly feature. To be more specific, I look forward to Brown Eyed Baker's Weekend Dish and Jessica's (from How Sweet It Is) Tuesday Things. These are just a couple of the many bloggers who maintain a somewhat-structured schedule.
I, on the other hand, am not that kind of blogger, but I do hope to be one day when I have a little more free time to focus specifically on this blog. At the very least, I try to post a new recipe for you once a week. Perhaps I can do some type of short weekly feature, such as a round up of recipes I've bookmarked, or a brief summary of significant events in my life that week. I really like Brown Eyed Baker's Weekend Dish style, and think that may be a do-able type of post here on The Beachside Baker. I love Jessica's Tuesday Things style too, but I could never come up with the same hilarious, sarcastic comments and beautiful Instagram photos the way she can. I'm just always afraid of cluttering the blog with additional features, since I don't want to pull attention away from the main attraction, the recipes. But, I do think it would be nice to share some additional food-related info with you...so what do you think? Would a weekly feature be a nice addition to this blog?
For now, let's talk cupcakes. These Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are another glorious cupcake recipe straight from my favorite cupcake source: Annie's Eats. Who doesn't love the combination of orange and vanilla? And not just any type of vanilla, but vanilla bean! I was immediately drawn to this recipe not only because of the flavor combination, but because of the beautiful candied orange slices placed on the top of each cupcake. The candied orange slices add a beautiful pop of color and make it very obvious what flavor the cupcake is.
I followed the recipe pretty closely to Annie's recipe, with the only adjustment being the use of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste. I've mentioned this product before when I used it to make Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, and highly recommend it for any recipes calling for vanilla bean; it makes a fine substitute. I would, however, like to try this recipe again, using the Swiss meringue vanilla bean frosting recipe from the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, as opposed to the frosting used in this recipe. Don't get me wrong, this traditional buttercream frosting recipe is very good, but I'm a sucker for Swiss meringue. But, if you're short on time or just don't feel like going through the hassle of making Swiss meringue, then this is a really good compromise. Overall, these cupcakes were a success. The tart orange flavor mixed perfectly with the smooth flavor of the vanilla. I will definitely be making these again in the future!
Orange Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
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Yield: about 30 cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Annie's Eats, original sources from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Sweetapolita
For the cupcakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
For the candied orange slices:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
About 30 small, thin orange slices (clementine oranges recommended)
For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (3 sticks plus 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and orange zest, and mix until incorporated. 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 extract. 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, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated; do not overbeat. Divide the mixture between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.
To make 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 (none overlapping), 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 heat. Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use. (You can repeat the process using the same syrup if pan does not accommodate all the slices in a single batch)
To make the frosting:
Add 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 until incorporated. Add the vanilla bean and the salt. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and cream on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with your preferred decorative tip. Pipe a swirl of frosting on the top of each cupcake and garnish with a candied orange slice.