I’m drawn wildly to the scarlet hued blood oranges that have been gracing the hallowed aisles of the grocery this winter. Stowing them away endlessly and stacking the refrigerator to the brim; the result of an odd fear that soon they will be replaced by a bounty of summer fruits. Much like a moth is drawn to the flame, I’m too drawn to this rouge radiance; a flame too, just a tad different.
But, selfishly stocking them (read hiding them) without justifying their presence is much too foolish. My mind bubbles with ideas and concoctions, day or night(read deep into midnight). The very reason the past month or so have sped by in a flash. Fortunately, these citrus cousins blend as well with savory dishes as they do with sweet courses. My kitchen witnesses peels strewn around the counter and a deep hued juice gently trickling down edges of the cutting board fairly often and I find myself enticed every single time.
To list the sweet creations that my kitchen and my very trusted knife have witnessed-
–Blood Orange Galette: sliced blood oranges rest on blood orange marmalade and a walnut enriched pâte brisée(the recipe made its way into the blog as well)
–Blood Orange Sourdough Boule: The deep crimson from the oranges softened into a pale orange but the citrus aroma lingered all the way, right down to the last crumb! We devoured the slices with jam spilling on the sides and lots of herbal tea.
–Blood Orange and Raspberry Brownies(Vegan): Another homage to the magic that is the orange and chocolate. Admittedly, the pair transpires into a beautiful symphony but what I failed to recognize initially was the friendly cheer that the raspberries lent. Together, it was all an elegant soiree of flavours.
– Blood Orange Upside Down Cake(Eggfree): This one was too hard to ignore. The cake is flooded with orange juice and makes for a citrus-lover’s dream but it’s the mandala-like pattern of candied oranges that steal the show.
–Blood Orange Pavlova(Vegan) – Aquafaba. The result of every vegan and vegetarian’s ardent prayers. After my fiasco with the vegan macaron, I was possessed by a silly vexation towards this innocent ingredient. But all anger melted when I trotted out a magnificent pavlova the other night. It was slathered generously with a Praline and Mascarpone Cream(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Sweet’), deluged with the darkest, deepest hued blood oranges and finally drizzled with a honey and pistachio syrup.( I yearn to share the recipe soon on the blog)
The savory dishes include –
Blood Orange & Chili Sourdough Focaccia: I infused the focaccia with oodles of chili oil, laid blood orange slices and then a splatter of pomegranate molasses for a touch of sweetness
– Blood Orange and Coconut Chutney– Purely the consequence of having too many leftover candied blood oranges. It was a tad sweet but also to a sweet tooth’s liking.
– Blood Orange & Ginger Gojju – A quintessentially Madhwa gojju often hosting pineapples undergoes a citrus-transformation with roasted & fresh blood oranges and, to spike it up, fresh, julienned ginger.
Therefore, you now know that the blood oranges weren’t hoarded in vain. My frenzied mind adores them as much as my hardworking oven. So, before I am tempted to run off to the grocery(yet again), let me delve into the recipe in question. (Please note that these cupcakes can be made with regular oranges as well)
I wish I had a rousing story or at the least, a Eureka! moment to accompany the conception of this recipe. These cupcakes were purely conceived after a quick internet search. “Oranges pair well with”, I typed. A long list appeared before my eyes but, the marriage between a sweet, citrus fruit and a herb such as basil, was far too intriguing to pass up. That’s how my Blood Orange and Basil Cupcakes came to be. Freshly squeezed blood orange juice is added to the cake batter along with orange zest. The frosting is a simple buttercream icing that is flavoured with a basil essence; I use the one from Wilton Products. Au Contraire to the uninteresting story, the flavours in these cupcakes are bright and ebullient, like a summer afternoon in Tuscany.
Moving on to the recipe:
EGGFREE BLOOD ORANGE AND BASIL CUPCAKES with CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES
Note: These cupcakes can be made with regular oranges as well.
For the Blood Orange Cupcakes
1 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Oil
3/4 cup Granulated sugar
3/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Blood Orange Juice(or any orange juice)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Orange Zest
For the Basil Buttercream
1 cup Unsalted butter that has been softened at room temerature
3 cups of Icing Sugar
6-7 tsp of heavy cream/milk/water
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp of Basil essence( I used the Wilton product which is fairly strong)
For the Candied Blood Orange Slices and Blood Orange Syrup
1 blood orange
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
For the cupcakes-
– Preheat the oven to 350F and line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
-In a mixing bowl, add the sugar, oil, milk, orange juice and vanilla extract. Whisk it all together.
-In another bowl, bring together the dry ingredients: All purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
-Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients part by part and mix well to ensure there are no lumps. Once well mixed, gently fold in the orange zest.
-Add the batter to the cupcake liners; fill upto 2/3 and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
-Once done, cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Frosting-
Note – The frosting can be made with a hand mixer or a stand mixer
-Add the butter, heavy cream, basil extract to the mixer bowl and whisk on medium speed for a couple of minutes until the butter is nice, light and fluffy.
-Start adding the sugar, 1 cup at a time. After adding a batch whisk to ensure that the sugar has been incorporated, then add the next cup.
-Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for about 3-4 minutes until the entire mixture is creamy and fluffy.
-The buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and used after it has softened at room temperature.
For the Candied Blood Orange Slices(Recipe adapted from tastemade.com)
-Wash the blood orange, dry and slice the fruit into 1/4′ slices.
-In a wide pot, heat water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Avoid stirring prevent crystallization. Bring the water to a gentle boil and drop the orange slices in.
-Turn the heat to a medium low and cook the slices for 15 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side for another 15 minutes. It is done when the peel is transparent and the syrup has thickened.
-Place a wire rack on top of a lined baking sheet, and transfer the candied slices on top to cool.
-The syrup will turn a into a light pink colour and can be used as a drizzle over the frosting.
To assemble –
Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream, drizzle some of the blood orange syrup over the frosting and place a candied orange on top. Additionally, to make it more decadent, the cupcakes can be also be filled with additional buttercream or even orange marmalade.