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Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

(Makes 12 to 14)
Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing
These luscious summer cupcakes are inspired by a favorite frozen treat ... creamsicles.
The refreshing citrus flavor of the orange cupcakes contrasts beautifully with the super-creamy and light vanilla buttercream frosting. If you're not going to serve them immediately, keep them refrigerated but bring them to room temperature before serving to bring out the best of their flavors.
Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1-1/2 teaspoons orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange food coloring (or 3 drops yellow to 1 drop red)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:

To make the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 12 - 14 muffins cups with paper cupcake liners.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and orange zest. 
Beat the butter mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, blending to combine after each addition.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the cream, orange juice, orange and vanilla extracts.  With the electric mixer set on low, alternately add the flour mixture and cream mixture in 3 batches.  Blend until smooth.  Add a few drops of orange food coloring until the batter is a pale shade of orange. Blend until the color is evenly distributed. 

Evenly divide the batter among the paper-lined muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 -24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before adding frosting.

To make the Frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed until the butter is nearly white in color and very fluffy, about 7 minutes.  Frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, heavy cream, and vanilla.  Mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Immediately spread or pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes. 

NOTE: When making the frosting, be sure to beat the ingredients for the full time indicated.  It may seem like a lot longer than you usually beat frosting but the extra time makes the frosting extra fluffy, light, and very creamy ... so don't cheat!
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DESSERTS CUPCAKES  >  ORANGE CREAMSICLE CUPCAKES
I MADE THE ORANGE CREAMSICLE CUPCAKES FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION, SO I DRESSED THEM UP A LITTLE WITH THESE DECORATIONS
FOR CUPCAKE GIFTS
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