Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Orange Poppyseed Cupcakes with Orange Curd and Salted Pistachio Crumble

The sun has been shining more warmly every day, and this afternoon I noticed a few flower shoots poking up out of the dirt in our back yard.

It definitely feels like spring is about to make an appearance soon.

And even while I suspect that we haven't seen the last of winter here in Colorado, and we're sure to have another snowstorm (or two), I can't help but get excited for spring.  We even slept with the window open the other night.

I've been loving fresh oranges the last few months, and while they tend to be at their best in the winter, they look just like sunshine on a warm spring day.

With a combination of navel and cara cara oranges, I cooked a batch of creamy orange curd.  Fluffy orange poppyseed cupcakes were next, with fresh orange zest and juice to flavor the cake.

For the buttercream, I decided on a sweet buttercream flavored with pure maple syrup, but salted to cut the sweetness.  Oh, my gosh.  I could eat that salted maple buttercream with a spoon.  I piped rings of buttercream onto the cupcakes, and filled the centers with the sweet tangy orange curd.  Lastly, a sprinkling of salted pistachios.

They were so beautiful, I just wanted to sit and look at them.  But they tasted just as lovely.

Orange Poppyseed Cupcakes with Orange Curd and Salted Pistachio Crumble

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 24 paper liners.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all cupcake ingredients for 2-3 minutes, until smooth.  Divide between the liners and bake for 14-15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix on low to combine.  Add the syrup, salt and cream, and whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Orange Curd.
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
Note: the curd should be made a day in advance and chilled in the refrigerator.  Two oranges should yield enough juice and zest for the recipe.

Assemble a double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan or saucepot filled with several inches of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water.

In the bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest and orange juice.  Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cold butter, a tablespoon at a time.  Pour the curd through a mesh strainer to remove the zest, then chill completely.

Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes to form a buttercream ring.  Just before serving, fill the centers with a teaspoon of the chilled orange curd, then garnish with chopped salted pistachios.

Important Note: Homemade curd tends to be thinner than the storebought stuff, and can become very thin and liquidy when left at room temperature.  It is important that the cupcakes be refrigerated once you add the curd on top.  For best results, wait to add the curd until just before serving, as it can soak into the cupcakes and run over the edges.