Orange Cupcakes with Candied Orange Garnish

Orange Cupcakes
I'm still trying to find an orange cake recipe that I really really like. This one is good, but not as orange-y as I hoped it would be! I found it in one of my recipe books (I'll get the title next time I go home!), but I made a few alterations.

6 Tbls (85 g) butter, at room temp
3/8 c (75 g) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Juice and zest of one orange
5/8 c (78 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c (24 g) almond meal
1/4 c (58 g) sour cream

Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a cupcake tin with 8 liners.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the egg and vanilla. Beat until very well combined, then add the orange zest and juice.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and almond meal. Sift half into the creamed mixture, stir just until combined, then add the sour cream. Stir briefly, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, make sure the batter is fully mixed, then pour into liners. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Cool on a rack.

While the cupcakes are baking, combine:

Juice and zest of one orange
1/4 c (50 g) sugar

In a small saucepan and simmer for five minutes. While the cupcakes are still warm, poke holes in them with a toothpick and pour the orange syrup over them.

Italian Meringue Buttercream For step-by-step directions for making Italian Meringue Buttercream, please click here!

1/4 c (63 ml) water
1 c (210 g) sugar
5 egg whites
1/4 c (53 g) sugar
1 c (237 g) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla, more if desired

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Heat the 1 c sugar and water on the stove to 245F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. When it is within the range of 230F to 235F, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, begin adding the remaining 1/4 c sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to overbeat. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp (I usually go a little longer than this; often times the bowl is not room temp when I begin adding butter. If the mix seems to soupy, put it in the fridge for a few moments or try briefly chilling some of the butter in the freezer before adding). Begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated. The frosting will deflate a little, but it's ok. Keep whipping until the frosting comes together (you may not need to add all of the butter), add the vanilla and continue whipping until it's light and fluffy.

Candied Orange Slices
Mine were a little chewier than I would have liked, but I think these would turn out perfectly if the sugar syrup was cooked to the hard crack stage!

1 orange, washed
water for boiling
ice water
2 (397 g) cups sugar
1 (237 ml) cup water

Cut the orange into thin slices (Thinner is better, but be careful not to slice them so thinly that they fall apart!). Remove the seeds and discard the ends. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and blanch the orange slices for about a minute. Drain and plunge into a bath of ice water. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved without stirring. Swirl the pan gently if it's not heating evenly. Bring to a simmer and add the orange slices. Let simmer (don’t boil) for an hour (you can simmer as much as 2 hours). Remove slices from hot sugar syrup and set on a cooling rack over a baking sheet until completely dry, up to 24 hours.
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