Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes
Where sweet and whimsical meet is where you will find Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes. I used the flavor of real orange with cute candy colors to create this wonderful cupcake. They make me so happy. You’re like - ok I get the orange part, but dreamsicle? Orange dreamsicle is a classic flavor that is associated with a pastel orange and white swirl. It’s kind of like oranges and cream but a more creative name. I used cream cheese icing to make this cupcake creamier. You still might not believe me that orange, vanilla, and cream cheese go together. But trust me! This one hits the mark.
I decided to make these when I wasn’t feeling like making a huge departure from my normal recipes, I didn’t want to spend an hour messing with piping decorations, but I really wanted something that screamed adorable. All this cupcake needs is a bow on top to be undeniably adorable. But I’m good with just regular adorable. When I’m not up for making a layer cake, but I still want cake, cupcakes are the best. There’s no trimming the cake or stacking layers. And your icing design is a little more limited due to space, making the decorating process much quicker! These cupcakes are just as moist and fluffy as my layer cake. They hold their shape without crumbling, and the cake doesn’t stick to the wrapper!
With such cute cupcakes, the flavor had to match! I added some orange zest to the gluten-free batter to give it a really nice genuine orange flavor. No extracts or oils. I wanted the real thing. You can color the cake batter orange, but it’s not required. If you’re adding gel food coloring to cake batter, be sure to mix it with one of your wet ingredients before you add it to the batter. The sugar and butter in icing are really good at pulling apart and distributing gel color, but cake batter is not. Without some pre-mixing, you will end up with little orange clumps in your mostly normal-looking batter. I definitely didn’t learn that one the hard way… Vanilla is really key is both the cake and the icing. When you walk into a room and you smell vanilla, most people think of cookies. But vanilla is that all-things-sweet flavor that adds a little bit of complexity to sweet flavors. That’s why you still add vanilla to chocolate-flavored things! You’ll notice that I did not add orange zest to the icing. I wanted smooth creamy icing, so clumps of orange zest are out of the question. I used orange juice to get the orange flavor. It’s not as strong as zest, but the icing is really there for the cream cheese flavor. Fair warning: a little bit too much orange juice will make your icing runny. Be sure to measure, and maybe even add less than my recipe calls for. Cream cheese icing is really soft and doesn’t crust like buttercream, so I went with a simple swirl of icing on top of the cupcake. It is structured just enough to hold the swirl shape and not ooze together.
Story time: The first time I made these, I had the most beautiful orange and white swirled icing you have ever seen. That was initially why I decided to include these on the blog. Then, I tasted them and had even more reason to include them. They’re so fruity and decadent! With that batch, I baked the cupcakes and I mixed together my cream cheese icing. I separated half of the icing into another bowl, and added orange food coloring to the other half. I took my two colors, spooned them each onto their own piece of saran wrap, and then rolled the saran wrap into long, thin rolls like you would for slice-and-bake cookie dough. I placed both rolls into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Then, I piped in a swirl motion, decorating both colors at the same time out of one bag. They were beautiful. I took them to a friend’s house and we ate them!
I made them another time so that I could photograph them for this blog post. And this is what I came up with. My icing was too warm, which made it too thin and runny. And I couldn’t get my saran wrap to cooperate and the icing just spilled out of the wrap. So the two colors just ran together. And there were big air bubbles in my icing. And I went with it. Don’t misunderstand - they were still plenty delicious. But these did not scream adorable. I may post some updated photos in the future. But that is how amazing they are. They can look just ok, and I’ll still put them on the internet with my name on them. Enjoy!
GLUTEN-FREE ORANGE DREAMSICLE CUPCAKES
Yields: 12 cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cup gluten-free flour:
- 26g white rice flour
- 53g brown rice flour
- 53g tapioca flour/starch
- 26g corn starch
- 5g potato flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tsp orange zest
- Orange food coloring (optional)
- Add all flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- With your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until combined and continue beating until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each egg.
- Add vanilla and milk, mixing until the batter is smooth and consistent. (If your batter starts to break and looks lumpy or curdled, start adding the flour in fractions immediately to help it hold together. Then, alternate with your remaining wet ingredients.)
- Gradually add flour mixture to the batter in three parts, mixing between each one.
- Add sour cream and orange zest. Mix to combine.
- Let batter rest while your oven preheats to 350 F.
- Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. No greasing necessary.
- Fill each paper with batter about ¾ full.
- Bake approximately 20 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top.
- Let cool completely at room temperature.
- Frost cupcakes with Soft Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below).
Soft Cream Cheese Icing
- ½ cup butter
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- With your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time with the mixer on low speed, mixing well between each cup.
- Add vanilla and orange juice. Mix to combine.
- Divide your icing into two bowls.
- In one bowl, add orange food coloring. Mix to combine.
- Lay out a piece of saran wrap. Deposit half of one color of icing onto it. Spread the icing out into a long, thin section without meeting the edge.
- Wrap the saran wrap around the icing long side to long side to form the icing into a tube shape - like you would slice-and-bake cookie dough.
- Repeat with the second color of icing.
- Place both icings side-by-side into a piping bag fitted with a large, round tip.
- Pipe icing in a swirl motion onto each cupcake to create the orange and white color twist.
- Repeat to ice all cupcakes.