With all of the recent crazy cold temperatures that most of the country has had, yummy creamsicle popsicles probably aren’t a big seller right now. Per the hubster’s request, let me present to you this delicious cupcake substitute from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, which I featured here yesterday.
If you don’t have the fixins to make this recipe today, you may not want to read this…because you are definitely going to want to make these! Let’s not waste anytime getting started.
Today’s cast of characters start off with milk, turmeric (for color), vanilla, finely grated orange zest, orange juice, sugar, and corn starch. These ingredients are going to combine to make an orange pudding that will be used as a filling inside the cupcakes. The book recommends that the pudding be made a minimum of 2 hours ahead of time. I didn’t do this (I really need to learn to read ahead). It still turned out perfect, so I think you can get away with making it only about an hour early. I also didn’t use vegan ingredients when making these. I used regular milk instead of soy milk throughout.
Now, whisk everything, except the orange zest, together in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes to warm it. When it’s warm, reduce heat to low and stir constantly for about 5 minutes to thicken the mixture. The book recommends using a fork for whisking at this point, due to the thickness of the mixture; I didn’t and my whisk worked just fine (but make sure you get in the corners of the pan). Once it has a thick, pudding consistency remove from heat and fold in the orange zest. Pour the pudding into a small bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for an hour or longer. Now on to the cupcakes!
The cupcake ingredients are as follows: milk, baking powder, salt, baking soda, finely grated orange zest, vanilla, sugar, flour, canola oil, and fresh orange juice. Combine the milk, vanilla, sugar, oil, and orange juice with one tablespoon of flour in a large bowl. In another bowl, sift the baking powder, salt, baking soda, and flour together. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients a little bit at a time, usually in about three batches, mixing until smooth after each addition. Finally, fold in the orange zest.
Before I go on, I’d like to take a second to share one of my favorite cupcake making tools: my spring-loaded ice cream scoop.
My scoop is from Pampered Chef and holds one tablespoon, or one liquid ounce, of batter, but amazon has another great option from Norpro. These are such a time saver for filling the cupcake pans! Sure, I could just use a regular tablespoon, but then I don’t get the clean sweep from the spring action! If you don’t have one, get one. Period. They have so many great uses. Most importantly, two scoops of batter fill each cup perfectly to three quarters full. Check it out:
Okay, so back to the cupcakes. Fill each of the cups 3/4 full of batter, bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes; the cupcakes will be springy on top and golden with a slightly orange hue (you can also stick a toothpick in the center of one of the cupcakes to test for doneness. A few crumbs clinging to the pick means they are done). Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before you fill them.
Remove filling from the refrigerator and give it a good stir. The easiest way to fill the cupcakes is with a disposable decorating bag and a piping tip; I used Wilton #30, but there is a Wilton cupcake filling set that I want that has a great tip made just for the job. Once you get your tip and filling in the bag, just insert the tip into the cupcake and squeeze filling in until you feel it push back a little bit. You can also use a small sealable baggy with a corner snipped off, but this isn’t quite as sturdy. Just poke a clean finger into the top of each cupcake and use the baggy to fill them. Finally, you can use a sharp knife to cut a cone of cake out of the top, spoon a small amount of filling into the hole and replace the bit of cake on top. Chances are a small amount of filling will come up out of the hole (no matter what method you use). If this bothers you, just take it off with a knife, but we are going to hide it with frosting anyway.
Speaking of frosting, I’m using the Orange Buttercream from the book. After having tasted it though, I think it should be called Orange ButterDream! Yum! You’ll need shortening, softened margarine, confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, finely grated lemon zest, and vanilla. Cream the margarine and shortening together in a small bowl, then add the sugar a little at a time, mixing well with a small amount of orange juice after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well for about 5 minutes until fluffy (you can use a handheld mixer to do all of this; I did it by hand and it was very easy). Try, just try, not to eat all of this before you need it. I can’t believe how these few simple ingredients make something so delicious.
You can add coloring to the frosting if you like, but I decided to stripe the frosting with orange, rather than tint all of it. To do this, put a stripe of food coloring down opposite sides of a decorating bag before filling it with the frosting. It will give the frosting a striped look when you apply it to the cupcakes. Like so:
Isn’t it so pretty?!? I just wanna gobble it up! Striping is a great way to add a little something without weighing the frosting down under sprinkles or candy, and you can mix it up different ways just by using 2 or 3 colors at a time. For the little candied orange peel on top, I just dipped a small piece of rind in sugar and curled it on top of the frosting. But these definitely are not “look-but-don’t-touch” cupcakes, it’s time to dig in!
As for the filling, it’s a perfect compliment to these cupcakes, but this pudding isn’t something I recommend on it’s own. Neither does Squire NomNom. He always wants to taste everything along the way and he didn’t really like this. The recipe very much needs a sweet frosting to punch up the filling a bit. On it’s own, the pudding is on the bland side, but with the kick of sweetness from the frosting, it’s perfection. The mellow smoothness of the pudding and the sweet creaminess of the frosting play off of each other perfectly. Another option, recommended in the book, is to spread a small teaspoon of orange marmalade on top and cover it with chocolate ganache. Can you imagine?? Chocolate and orange are always so perfect together, I bet it’s delicious! But that may just be a post for another day. In the meantime…
Dreamsicle Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting
**This cupcake recipe is not gluten free, however the filling and frosting are. If you have a good, basic, gluten free yellow cupcake recipe, you can use it and simply add the orange zest and orange juice in place of other liquid.**
FOR THE FILLING (gluten-free):
3/4 cups soy milk (or regular, it worked great too)
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch (tapioca flour or arrowroot work too)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for color, optional)
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup soy or rice milk (again, I used regular and it was great)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
FOR THE FROSTING (gluten free):
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 margarine, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (make sure it’s gluten free!)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the filling: Whisk all of the filling ingredients, except the orange zest, together in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes to warm it.
Once warmed, reduce heat to low and stir constantly for about 5 minutes to thicken the mixture.
When it has a thick, pudding consistency remove from heat and fold in the orange zest.
Pour the pudding into a small bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for an hour or longer.
While the pudding chills, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Combine the milk, vanilla, sugar, oil, and orange juice with one tablespoon of flour in a large bowl.
In another bowl, sift the baking powder, salt, baking soda, and flour together. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients a little bit at a time, usually in about three batches, mixing until smooth after each addition.
Finally, fold in the orange zest.
Fill each of the cups 3/4 full of batter, and bake for 20-22 minutes; the cupcakes will be springy on top and golden with a slightly orange hue.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before you fill them.
To make the frosting: Cream the margarine and shortening together in a small bowl, then add the sugar a little at a time, mixing well with a small amount of orange juice after each addition.
Add the vanilla and mix well for about 5 minutes until fluffy.
Assemble: Put a piping tip in a pastry bag and add filling.
Insert the tip into the cupcake and squeeze filling in until you feel it push back a little bit.
Remove excess filling from the top with a knife if desired.
Frost and, most importantly, enjoy!