Holiday Sweets 101: Orange Cranberry Pound Cake Cupcakes w/Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Do you have your Thanksgiving desserts decided yet?

No judgement here from me if you haven’t finished your menu yet, I mean I only realized yesterday that I have a crowd coming over and that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I finalized my menu yesterday and made grocery list a mile long…now I’m dreading the supermarkets over the next few days.  Is there really a good time to go this time of year??

So in true fashion I pushed that to the other side of my brain and baked cupcakes!  Okay I could say I baked them for the hubby. After all today is his birthday! But I don’t recall him ever mentioning an affinity for cranberries. If he asks though…they are for HIM!

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But I digress…let’s talk about dessert, specifically this orange pound cake cranberry cupcake. I’ve always loved the simplicity of a really fantastic pound cake, and so I’ve taken a delightful recipe I’ve been using for years and loaded it up with fresh cranberries and orange zest. Then topped it off with an orange cream cheese icing garnished with those lovely vanilla sugared cranberries from the other day! Told you that you’d see them again!

I have such an admiration for cupcakes… they are incredibly easy to prepare and bake, quite efficient, portion controlled (let’s face it, we could all use a bit of help in that area) and they have both the simplicity and sophistication that suits a casual weeknight dessert, as well as a holiday dessert table.

So I started with my favorite cream cheese pound cake recipe.  This recipe is adapted from the amazing, Martha Stewart.

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Just a quick note…it is important that your butter, cream cheese, and eggs are all room temperature.  Like most fabulous cake recipes I started by creaming together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. That took about 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bowl a few times!

I beat in the sugar and creamed butter/cream cheese mixture until it was light & fluffy.  Don’t rush this step, y’all…allow to beat for at least 5 minutes. Patience really pays off here.

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Eggs in one at a time! Scrape the bowl people!  Vanilla, flour, salt, AND yummy orange zest….just until combined not to over mix. Pound cake is a dense cake…we don’t want too many air pockets.

Earlier while the sugar was being beaten I coarsely chopped my cranberries.  I think it’s so much better to do this by hand rather than in the food processor. But do as you will.  I tossed the chopped berries in powdered sugar to keep them from sinking in the batter…hopefully.

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I gently folded in the cranberries into the batter because I didn’t want the berries to turn to mush or discolor the batter.  Although…pink is my signature color!

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For this recipe, I knew I had to fill my cupcake liners mostly full because these wouldn’t rise as much as normal cupcakes.

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I opted for an orange cream cheese icing because I thought it would complement the cream cheese pound cake and the tanginess would really pair well with the tart yet sweet cranberries not to mention that orange and cranberry go together like peanut butter & jelly, hamburgers & french fries, eggs & bacon, cookies & cream….oh geez I think I’m hungry!!

And for the topper…just your basic recipe of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and in this case orange juice and a little bit of orange zest for brightness. OH and embellished with my beautiful sparkly gems…sugared cranberries.  Yummy!

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This orange cranberry pound cake cupcake with orange cream cheese icing is the perfect chance to showcase seasonal flavors other than pumpkin; I promise your family will love it!

ORANGE CRANBERRY POUND CAKE CUPCAKES W/ORANGE CREAM CHEESE ICING

Cupcakes:

¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 ounces (1/2 bar) cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

Zest half an orange

¾ cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Icing:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

4 ounces (1/2 bar) cream cheese, softened

1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on your desired consistency & sweetness)

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Zest half an orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined. Add orange zest, mix until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Toss chopped cranberries with powdered sugar. Gently fold cranberries into the batter. Fill cupcake wrappers ¾ full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, 15-18 minutes (if the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil).Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Cool completely before icing.

While cupcakes cool prepare icing. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Whip on high speed until completely incorporated. Add another ½ cup and repeat until desired consistency. Add zest and orange juice. Whip until fluffy.

By the way y’all, Michael came home just as I finished these…he LOVED them.  So HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEYBUNNY! (shhh…)

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