Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

The urge. Sometimes it hits me, and I have to get in the kitchen. The baking fix must be quelled. Like a zombie needing brains, I instinctively grab my apron and become fixated on my next experiment. I can turn a bit mad scientist when I get in the kitchen. Ideas run through my head, and I check my "to do" list of recipes looking for something to start. Since summer is fading into fall, the warm days of popsicles by the pool will soon become a thing of the past. And what better popsicle exists but the creamsicle? It's got that fruit flavor mixed with the creamy taste of vanilla cream, combining forces to make this little bit of frozen greatness. Why not capture that flavor in a cupcake?



The recipe started out like any other of my cupcake recipes, with a simple and easy batter. I used less sugar than normal this time around, since I was adding orange juice which is already sweet all by its lonesome. I added the entire list of ingredients to my mixing bowl and let it all stir. In my first post with this recipe, Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes, I used milk. In this version, I used orange juice and half and half. Half and half has cream, making it more dense. And the orange juice was added to keep in the moisture while adding the orange flavor into the cake. I also mixed in some orange oil to ensure the flavor would be strong enough.


I got the cake into cupcake tins and popped them in the oven. In the meantime, I got started on the frosting, making a basic vanilla butterceam. Vanilla bean paste was the only flavor I put in initially, but I knew I had enough frosting for the entire batch. I prepared a piping bag to fill the cupcake centers with.


One of the tools of the trade that makes a job like this easy is a cupcake corer. I am not big on having a kitchen gadget for every task. My cooking will never require a strawberry slicer, because I have a knife that works perfectly fine. If I were required to slice a thousand strawberries a day, that might change things. But yeah, little old me and my single batch cooking doesn't get too fancy.

But - the cupcake corer is a useful tool. Spooning out the center of 24 cupcakes can take some time, and when your baking often happens late in the evening after a long day of work, a few minutes can make life significantly easier.


I then filled the cakes with some plain vanilla frosting to give that creamsicle touch.


The pieces were coming together. Orange cake, creamy vanilla center. All it needed was an orange icing up top to finish the deal. I took the rest of the icing and added a dash of orange food coloring (the goal was a light orange, not fluorescent, radioactive looking icing) and some orange oil.


At first, I was not all too impressed with the level of orange flavor in the cake alone, as I had cheated and tried a bit pre-frosting. Though I had been concerned that the orange icing would be too much, I figured out fast that it was needed to turn these into true orange flavored cupcakes. The sandwiching in of vanilla in the center added that extra element of flavor. And sure enough, I wound up with just the right orange strength. Creamsicles have a light flavor, and these followed suit. One bite captured both the orange and vanilla flavors I was looking for, When you can snag the fruit flavor and the cream center without the brain freeze, you have a winner.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 teaspoons orange oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chia seeds

For the frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons orange oil
1-2 drops orange food coloring

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, half and half, orange juice, butter, shortening, baking powder, salt, vanilla, eggs, and chia seeds. Beat on low speed until combined, and then increase speed to medium and continue mixing for 4-5 minutes. The batter will be light and fluffy. Spoon in to cupcake pans and bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool. To make frosting, beat butter on high speed for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar and milk. Use spoon or cupcake corer to remove centers of cooled cupcakes. Fill with vanilla frosting. Mix food coloring and orange oil into the remaining frosting then add to tops of cupcakes.

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