Who doesn’t love the yummy deliciousness that is the combination of orange and vanilla? And to make it even more awesome, what about orange, vanilla, and chocolate?! I do believe they’re called Dreamsicles because they’re obviously the stuff dreams are made of.
Recently, I was asked to bring cupcakes to two events that would take place only 3 days apart. Sir and I are about to embark on a move that’ll take us to the other side of the world from New England. Yes. We are moving to Hawaii. Why? Because Navy, that’s why. We’re getting down to the final 3 weeks and I’m refusing to buy food unless we can absolutely eat all of it. That way we’re forced to use all of the food in our pantry and fridge. Hopefully there will be very little waste. But that is how this bright little light bulb came to be.
We had a bushel of mandarin oranges in the fruit drawer of our fridge. I had a crap ton of flour and sugar and butter. I bought some extremely superior cocoa. AND I make my own vanilla extract. They all add up to Dreamsicle Cupcakes!!! (Feel free to applaud.)
I brought them to my husband’s family gathering and got very good reactions and opinions and knew I’d be bringing them to the second event–a work party for my husband. Apparently, sending him to work with dozens of cupcakes every couple of weeks has put my baking in demand with his coworkers. Remind me to tell you about the Fourth of July Stars and Stripes Cupcakes I made. Here’s a preview:
Or check out my Navy Cammo Cupcakes!
Or my Neapolitan Cupcakes!!!
Anyways. Yes yes, I’m a cupcake baking fool. Lately, I seem to be cooking fun things like this without remembering to take pictures for my blog. This time, I knew ahead of time that I wanted to write about this orange-vanilla-chocolate wonderfulness. I was determined to be a more regular blogger. But unfortunately, life had slightly different plans for me.
Our washing machine broke last week. I’m no longer certain about the cleanliness of the clothing that came out of it in the weeks leading up to the break. We scheduled a maintenance guy from Sears to come out and my plan was to bake while he fixed. Except I suddenly had to go to the grocery store. I was in need of oranges and eggs and butter and sugar. Except I couldn’t go because I just knew that if I left the house, that’d be the moment Mr. Fix-the-Washing-Machine would show up at my door. So what’s a girl to do? Would I have to show up to the dinner party sans cupcakes?! In desperation, I texted my most dependable friend.
Me: “Do your plans for today involve being on my side of town? Because I could use your help…”
Her: “I’m already on my way over!”
Me: (thinking to myself) How did she know that I’m that desperate? Can she just sense it?
In walks Jane*
*Her name isn’t really Jane. I changed that for the story.
Anyways, almost as soon as she came by, Mr. Fix-It called to say he was 5 minutes away. So I sent her to the store for oranges and eggs.
Sigh. And then I found out that I was in need of one more stick of butter. JUST ONE. Grrrr. So I called and texted her but she missed my messages while she was at the store and she graciously walked in my house with the oranges and back out to get butter. And then we made chit chat for a while. I baked. She sat and watched and we gossiped. Mr. Washing-Machine-Fixer-Upper came out and said that for the price to fix our washing machine, we could just buy another one. No, seriously:
So. Naturally, I was distracted while cooking and after I was done mixing the icing and chocolate cupcakes, I found out that I was entirely out of sugar and still needed to make vanilla cupcakes. To her credit, when I said “You’ll never believe me, but we have to go to the store again” she just said “OK let’s go, I’m driving.”
Anyways, my point in telling you all of this is that sometimes, you need that most awesome of friends, your loyal sidekick of an awesome bestie. Who else would go to the grocery store three times just for cupcakes that you weren’t planning to give them? Sometimes you can’t be awesome unless they’re awesome first. Her awesomeness inspires your own.
And here is the part you probably actually clicked on this blog to read: my recipes and tips.
- 2 1/4 cups AP flour
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 packet vanilla instant pudding mix
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with cupcake liners. (My fav are made out of parchment paper: observe:
Combine all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Whisk together until very well mixed. Add shortening, milk, and vanilla slowly while mixer beats at low speed. Scrape bowl and mix on low speed. Add eggs, one at a time, allowing about 30 more seconds to beat in between first and second egg. Turn to high speed and mix about 1 minute. Distribute batter evenly into cups. (If you’re using these awesome liners, they hold more batter, but I still got over a dozen cupcakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks and then frost when completely cool.
Seriously Yummy Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups AP flour
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup Dutch cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (dry)
- 1 cup hot strong coffee
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Combine all dry ingredients, whisk together until mixed very thoroughly.
While beating on low, pour in milk slowly.
Then add vegetable oil, eggs individually, and vanilla, all separately and slowly.
Mix on medium speed about 30 seconds and then reduce back to low speed and slowly (even slower if you can) pour in the hot coffee.
Beat on high about 1 minute.
Distribute evenly into muffin tin cups and bake 20-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks and frost when completely cool.
Orange Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups butter, softened
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp. orange zest
- 3-4 tbsp. orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1/8 – ¼ cup milk or cream
- Red and yellow food colouring
With the wire whisk attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed about 1 minute. Add orange zest and juice while beating on low. Scrape bowl often. Turn off the beater. Add one quarter of the powdered sugar. Turn the beaters back on for 2 second bursts, literally, to incorporate sugar without making it fly around everywhere. Then turn speed up to medium. Then keep adding the sugar in 3 more batches the same way. Add cream or milk as needed if the icing becomes too thick. You want it thick but not like concrete. Add two drops of red food colouring and 3 drops of yellow. I like the gel form but the little liquid cups that look kind of like garden gnomes work well too. Mix on high and stop and scrape once or twice as needed.
These are seriously the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. And you’ve seen me make awesome cupcakes. All your family and friends will be begging you for these for every event you attend!!!!
A few tips:
Use Dutch cocoa if you can. You will be very thankful. Your tastebuds will LOVE you. I order mine from Penzey’s. Memo to me: find out of Penzey’s delivers to Hawaii…
A new trick I’ve come up with for pouring batter too will change your life. I’ve been baking cupcakes since I was like 12 and I’ve always made a mess with spoons and ice cream scoops. USE A MEASURING CUP!!!
Don’t let your husband eat the icing until after you’ve frosted all of the cupcakes too…by the way.