Monday, 3 June 2013

Spicy Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

While we were having a hot and blustery day here in Durban (poor Comrades Marathon runners!), Cape Town was being blanketed in a layer of hail-stones. Pretty bizarre winter weather. I'm sure in all 6 years that I was studying in Cape Town, it didn't hail there once. Lot's of rain, lots of wind, but no hail. And I'm sure I'd remember if it had (even though it's 15 years ago that I left) because the old skadonk that I drove then, probably would have fallen apart at the seams if it had been hit by hail!

Anyway... here's another spiced up winter recipe. But if you want to transform it into a light and breezy summer treat, instead - just omit the spices.

Spicy Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
recipe adapted from

Juice and zest of 1 medium orange 
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
120g butter, at room temp.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground cardamon

Pre-heat the oven to 180'C
Line 2 muffin trays with cupcake cases.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices to combine.

In a measuring jug, add 1/4 cup orange juice to the buttermilk.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, and orange zest.
 Add the eggs, 1 at a time - scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions.

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk/juice mix to the mixing bowl. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
Beat on low speed until mixed.

Spoon into prepared cases.

Bake at 180'C until a skewer inserted comes out clean (approx 20min). 

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 

5 large egg whites
1 cup  white granulated sugar
340g butter, cut into cubes, at room temp. 
2tsp vanilla extract *

1 tsp orange extract*
200g white chocolate - melted and cooled.

* I use Vanilla Girl  extracts - so 8-10 drops of each.  

Put the egg whites and sugar into a mixing bowl, and place that over a suitable saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl must not be in contact with the water.

Whisk constantly, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch.

Move off the stove, and to the mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip until it forms a thick and glossy meringue.
When the mixing bowl feels neutral to touch (ie, no longer hot), change over to the paddle attachment, and add the butter one cube at a time.

It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth consistency and holds its shape. Add the extracts.
Pour in the cooled, melted white chocolate. **
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

** as the chocolate goes into the icing, some of it hardens, and forms small chunks, beat for a few minutes to minimize the size of these. I find that they don't disappear completely, though, and it is best to pipe this icing with a plain round nozzle, or an open star tip. 

Happy baking!


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