Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Orange Slices

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Oranges

Every winter, when blood oranges come back in season, I start keeping an eye out for them at grocery stores and farmers markets. This year was different. I’ve been at home, having my groceries delivered instead perusing the local produce aisles. If you’ve been entrusting strangers to do your shopping like I have, then you know delivery produce selections are hit and miss. So I was elated when a bag of perfectly beautiful, ripe blood oranges landed on my doorstep. This simple joy made my day. There was no choice. I had to make something worthy of the gorgeous red beauties!

I didn’t get enough of gingerbread this holiday season, so I decided to make a gingerbread cupcake recipe that I created a few years ago when I was experimenting with blood oranges. I used blood orange zest in the cupcake batter and brushed the warm cupcakes with the blood orange syrup left over from making the candied oranges. If you don’t make the candied oranges, you can easily make a batch of the syrup* or skip this step altogether. They will still be delicious. I topped the cupcakes with cream cheese icing made with more orange zest and some blood orange juice mixed in. The juice makes the icing turns a soft shade of pink.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Oranges

Candied blood orange slices are so stunning, that I can’t bring myself to just lay them on top of a dessert. They remind me of stained glass windows. I like to place them on toothpicks so they can stand up in regal style! Many recipes out there will instruct you to boil the orange slices, then let them air dry. This is perfectly fine if you don’t mind floppy candied oranges. For this recipe, boiling the slices, then letting them dry in the oven on low heat will give them enough stiffness to stand up.

If you can’t find blood oranges where you live, here’s a link to get blood oranges shipped to you. This recipe will also work with other types of oranges. You won’t get the deep scarlet color and the flavor will have a bit more tartness, but it will still be beautiful and delicious!

Print Recipe
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Servings
12-14 cupcakes
Ingredients
Gingerbread Cupcakes
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Servings
12-14 cupcakes
Ingredients
Gingerbread Cupcakes
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Instructions
Gingerbread Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.
  4. Add brown sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add molasses and beat until combined.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  7. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat just until combined.
  8. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tin, filling wells 2/3 full. (If you have any remaining batter, prepare an additional muffin tin.)
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan.
  11. Place cupcakes upside down on cooling rack and brush generously with orange simple syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed, until smooth.
  2. Add butter, orange zest and salt and beat until combined.
  3. Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth.
  4. Add blood orange juice and beat, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Candied Blood Orange Slices
  1. Slice oranges into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Combine sugar and water in a shallow saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add orange slices to saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain oranges, reserving syrup.
  5. Heat oven to 175ºF. Place on a large baking sheet lined with a baking mat in a single layer and bake until orange slices begin to stiffen, about 2 hours.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. If desired, insert toothpicks when slices are cool enough to handle. The slices will continue to stiffen as they cool.
Recipe Notes

*To make orange simple syrup,  combine the juice of one orange with enough water to make 1/2 cup. Combine mixture with the zest of one orange and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and transfer to a glass container. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Pastel Snowball Cookies

pastel snowball cookies

This delightful melt-in-your-mouth cookie recipe has been in my family for decades. We call them Snowballs, but they’re also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Greek Kourabiedes. I make them every year for Christmas, but they would also be perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, birthday parties, tea parties, weddings, bridal showers, and baby showers.

Pecans are my favorite nuts to use in this recipe, but you can use almost any nuts you have on hand. The original snowy white version is a classic but you can take them up a notch with pretty pastels and fruit flavors. You can use crushed, freeze-dried fruit for color and subtle flavor. Spirulina is a nutritious, vibrant powder you can use to make beautiful blue cookies. You can also dress up your snowballs with edible glitter or luster dust used for cake decorating. There are endless ways to be creative with these cute cookies!

Print Recipe
Pastel Snowball Cookies
Melt-in-your-mouth powdered sugar covered shortbread cookies
Course Dessert
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cookies
Pink powdered sugar
Blue powered sugar
Lavender powered sugar
Course Dessert
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cookies
Pink powdered sugar
Blue powered sugar
Lavender powered sugar
Instructions
Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 325º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy.
  3. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and sea salt. Beat until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour and pecans.
  5. Add flour and pecan mixture to butter mixture gradually. Mix on low speed until well combined.
  6. Shape dough into scant 1-inch balls. Place balls one inch apart onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake until light golden brown, about 18-21 minutes
  8. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a plastic bag. With a spatula, transfer three warm cookies into the bag. Shake gently to coat cookies with powdered sugar. Transfer to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cookies.
  9. Cool cookies completely then proceed to instructions for pastel powdered sugar, depending on which color you have selected.
Pink powdered sugar
  1. Process freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries into a fine powder in a mini food processor.
  2. Whisk freeze-dried berry powder with 1/3 cup powered sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Blue powered sugar
  1. Whisk 1/3 cup powdered sugar and spriulina powder in a small bowl.
  2. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Lavender powered sugar
  1. Process freeze-dried blueberries into a fine powder in a mini food processor.
  2. Whisk freeze-dried blueberry powder with 1/3 cup powered sugar together in a small bowl. Whisk in petal dust for a more vibrant color, if desired.
  3. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Recipe Notes

*The ratios for the pastel powered sugar are approximate. Freeze-dried fruit varies in color. Add more or less to achieve your desired shade.

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