If there ever was a more perfect citrus fruit that embodied winter it is the blood orange. And I can’t think of a better way to showcase their light and delicate flavor than with a light chiffon cupcake.
What do blood oranges taste like?
So if you’ve only ever seen one, but never tried one, you are really missing out, my friend. While they are dazzling to look at with their deep ruby color, the flavor is what really sets them apart. Think the best orange you ever had but a bit more tart, kind of grapefruit-y, I guess but sweeter. Overall more intense than your average orange.
Any other ways to use a blood orange?
So so many ways. This blood orange creme brulee and blood orange sorbet are two of my faves. And I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t tell you how awesome blood orange is in COCKTAILS, that’s right DRINK UP. Here is a few of my fave cocktails you need to try:
You said chiffon cupcake. What is that?
Yes I did. These cupcakes are made like a chiffon cake. And a chiffon cake is a light and spongy cake base that is primarily leavened with beaten egg whites. I like this as a base for this because I think it is the perfect compliment to the light blood orange scent and flavor in this cake. This is not meant to be a rich, decadent and buttery. It is light and airy…it is like thinking ahead to spring, only in a food. That is probably a terrible comparison, but you get my drift.
What about the frosting?
Ohhhhhh the frosting. The glorious whipped mascarpone cream frosting. Spiked with vanilla bean and the tiniest bit of powdered sugar. Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) is American cream cheese’s classier cousin, with a little less tang and a lot more creamy. The light and airy frosting could not possibly compliment these cupcakes more. And the vanilla with the blood orange almost makes this like a creamsicle in a the most elevated form.
It couldn’t be easier. Whip some heavy cream with a little vanilla and some powdered sugar. Whip some plain mascarpone separately and fold together. Super light and super delicious.
Blood orange cupcakes
- For the cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 eggs yolks
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons of blood orange juice
- zest of one blood orange about a teaspoon or so
- 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar for the egg whites
- For the whipped mascarpone frosting
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
- half a vanilla bean scraped or use 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese NOT at room temperature
To make the cupcakes
Heat the oven to 350 and have a rack in the middle of the oven. Line 24 cupcake rounds with paper liners.
Put the sugar in a small bowl and add the zest. With your fingers rub the zest into the sugar really well. This will release the oils in the zest and make for a super fragrant cupcake. Then in a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar/zest combo, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, oil, water, blood orange juice until super smooth and well incorporated. Add the dry mixture to this and whisk to combine.
With a stand mixer of handheld )whatever you have), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks start to form.
Using a spatula, GENTLY fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Only do this until mildly incorporated - this part is important because you do not want to deflated the whipped egg whites.
Scoop batter into the cupcake liners and bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes. They will rise nicely and be springy when you touch the center of the cupcakes. Turn the oven off, and crack open the oven about 1/4 or halfway to SLOWLY bring down the temperature. This will ensure the cupcakes don't fall and deflate. Cool this way for a half hour and then remove from oven and cool on a wire rack completely.
To make the frosting
Whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, but using the same whisk attachment, best the mascarpone for about five minutes on high until light and airy. With a spatula, fold the mascarpone into the whipped cream.
When the cupcakes are completely cooled pipe or spread the frosting on top.
So the slow cooling with the oven cracked...this is a technique that I personally love for so many things. Slowly bringing the temperature down on something so light and airy is really a deal breaker. You of course can take your chances and pull them straight out of the oven to cool, I have many times. Sometimes they cool perfectly fine, no problem. But sometimes they come out looking perfectly and I turn my head and they sink...all that light airiness dissipates. And while I know this is an extra step that can seem annoying, it absolutely yields the perfect cupcake every time. And I mean, chances are, you're not baking these and literally running out the door, so the half hour of gentle cooling won't be killing you anyways 🙂