Today is a good day! Or at least as good as any day can be at 5:40 a.m. You see, this morning I conquered my fear of marshmallows -- or, to be more precise, my fear of using a candy thermometer to make marshmallows...or anything else, for that matter. The idea of waiting for a metal stick to tell me when it's time to take a boiling, lava-hot pot of sugar off the stove made me skittish for years, and it wasn't helped by my one experience burning sugar last year (gas range = no good for making caramel). But today was the day, and so dedicated to the task was I that I got up extra early to set to it.
Spatula in shaky hand, I watched the temperature on the thermometer creep up. Finally, after what seemed like many heart-palpitating ages, the mixture hit 235 and I yanked it off the stove. It was, to my great delight, unburnt, and as I slowly poured it into the egg whites, the subtle scent of marshmallow began to waft out of the mixer bowl. Success! I wouldn't have to scrap my plans for these marvelous creamsicle cupcakes -- my entry for the March edition of Cupcake Hero -- after all.
These cupcakes might be the second biggest baking success I've had so far (coming in a bit ahead of the red wine cupcakes and just behind these). They taste unmistakably like a creamsicle. The cake has a bright orange flavor and the orange frosting has the clever, citrusy bite of an orange popsicle. The marshmallow fluff enhances both, and yet manages not to be overpowered by the orange flavor in the rest of the cupcake. I wouldn't change a single thing about this recipe -- nothing. These cupcakes are completely and utterly fantastic, and worth making over and over and over again. In fact, each of the three components is truly delicious on its own, so I would encourage you to borrow them for other recipes -- birthday cakes, trifles, whatever you see fit. Enjoy!
Note: To frost the cupcakes like I did (big swirls), you will likely need to double both the frosting and the fluff recipe below.
Orange Cream (Creamsicle) Cupcakes
Adapted from a recipe by Cheryl at The Cupcake Bakeshop
Makes a little over 24 cupcakes
2-3 medium oranges
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
A Dulcedo original
1 cup butter, room temperature
6-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup water
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Peel oranges (removing any seeds and as much of the white pith as possible) and puree in a blender or food processor. Measure out 1/2 cup of the liquidy pulp. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine orange pulp, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, orange extract, sugar, and vegetable oil.
With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated.
Fill your cupcake containers of choice a scant 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before filling, frosting, or garnishing as desired.
To make the orange frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the sifted sugar, the vanilla, the orange extract, and the orange juice. Beat until combined. Gradually add the remaining sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
To make the marshmallow fluff:
Heat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the corn syrup, and 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 235 degrees. [This is what your sugar mixture will look like at 235 degrees F.]
Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add the hot syrup in a slow, steady stream down sides of bowl. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until stiff peaks begin to form. With the mixer still running, gradually add the vanilla and continue beating until the fluff is smooth and cool, about 7 minutes.
How to pipe two colors of frosting at once:
Place your decorating bag, tip down, in a glass and fold the top of the bag over the rim of the glass. Using long teaspoons, alternate adding each color of frosting to the bag. Though it takes longer, the best results are achieved when you add only small amounts of each color at a time. You'll need to sort of press the frosting up against the side of the bag as you go; it will naturally fall toward the center a bit. (The marshmallow fluff is a great frosting to use for two-color piping because it naturally wants to stick to the side of the decorating bag.)