I meant for these cupcakes to be another spring-inspired dessert. We finally had some 60 degree days here this past week and it felt amazing! (Now of course we are supposed to get snow this week, but let’s ignore that for the moment…) So, as I said, I thought some nice butter cake, orange zest, orange curd, bright orange wrappers… all that would translate to a beautiful spring dessert. Well… maybe. They also kind of look like Halloween with the orange wrappers and the black brownie showing through. So I guess they are multi-functional! Maybe I will put them on my baking calendar for October as well! Then I guess you’d probably change the flower color to more orange, or a creepier black.
Anyway, back to what really matters here– the taste! The brownie is dense and fudgy. It has no leavening so it stays level and away from the cakey side of the spectrum. Next time I’d probably swap half the flour for cocoa just to get an even richer chocolate flavor, but it’s great the way it is too. The butter cake has a pound cake-like texture, also a little dense. In this case I was happy it wasn’t a light texture like most cupcakes, the density really helps it hold up to the brownie layer and allows the orange zest flavor to come through more than I think it would in an airier cake.
The dense (but not dry!) cake stands is then filled with a generous amount of homemade orange curd that soaks into the cake and amplifies the orange flavor without being too sweet. The little vanilla whipped cream flowers on top reference spring, and help to cover up the hole from filling the cake. They also provide a nice creamy contrast to the fudge brownie. I thought about completely icing them, but I like the way this looks, and I actually think it was the perfect amount so that it complemented the brownie rather than neutralized it.
I will admit to not having left my house yesterday. It was cold and windy and I was exhausted from running around all week. It was a little difficult to motivate myself to come out from under the covers to bake these cupcakes, but I am sure glad I did! Even though they have two layers, they are both super easy and the second layer comes together while the first one is cooking. I was lucky and had orange curd and whipped cream in the freezer, but both of those could be made pretty quickly too, and you could easily make the orange curd a day or two in advance.
I’m writing this Monday morning, though it may not get posted until later. Oh Mondays. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to work this week. I have set myself a goal of trying to really make some significant progress towards figuring out all the paperwork and logistics that I’ve so far mostly ignored. It feels pretty overwhelming at the moment but I know it will only get worse the longer I leave it… Any words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated haha. I really thought having a “hands off” advisor would be so great for my working style, since I like to work independently. And maybe it will be once I’m in the writing phase, but I sure feel like I could use a little more help, prodding, and direction in this stage! Anyway, I hope your week gets off to a lovely start, and that if you have time you’ll consider whipping up these cupcakes!
I was originally inspired by this recipe, but then decided to make cupcakes instead of a loaf, and to add all the orange elements and the whipped cream. I’m changing the recipe below to reflect that next time I want to add cocoa in addition to flour, but feel free to just use flour if you want.
Brownie and Orange Butter Cupcakes
Makes: 6 medium cupcakes
- 1/4 cup plus 1 T chocolate chips
- 2 T butter, melted
- 2 T brown sugar
- 1/2 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
- 1 T flour
- 1 T cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a cupcake pan with six liners
- Melt chocolate and butter in a medium bowl.
- Stir brown sugar into warm butter and chocolate.
- Add egg and extracts and stir.
- Mix in flour and cocoa until combined.
- Divide batter evenly between six cupcake liners and tap to level out. Bake for 10 minutes. (Brownie will not be “done,” it bakes more with the next layer.)
- 4 T butter, softened
- scant 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- scant 2 T milk
- Reduce oven temperature to 320.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
- In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder.
- Alternately add flour mixture and milk to the bowl, starting and ending with the flour.
- Divide the batter into the six cupcake liners and try to spread it smoothly. (Don’t worry, it will spread more once it’s in the oven!)
- Bake for 22-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
- 1 orange
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2.5 T butter, soft
- 1.5 eggs
- 2 T lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- Cream butter and sugar with zest until light and fluffy
- Add eggs slowly and mix to combine.
- Add juice from the orange, lemon juice, and salt and continue to mix until well combined.
- Add to a small saucepan and cook for 10-15 minutes over low heat until it thickens (should be around 170 degrees if you have a thermometer).
- Let it cool to room temperature before using it to fill cupckaes
(You really need such a small amount for six cupcakes, I used some I had left over. Otherwise be aware that even this scaled down recipe will make way more than you need.)
- 1/2 cup cream, chilled
- 1/8-1/4 cup powdered sugar, to taste
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Whisk cream until soft peaks.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until you reach desired pipeable texture.
- Cut out about a 1 inch circle from the middle of the cupcakes. I made mine as deep as the butter cake layer. Cut off the cone of cake about half way to make room for more orange curd.
- Fill the cupcakes with a nice helping (about a teaspoon, more or less) of orange curd. Replace the cake tops onto the cupcakes.
- Pipe some whipped cream over the top to cover up the whole. (I used a Wilton 2D tip and slowly turned the piping bag to create drop flowers.)