This idea came about thanks to Sweetest Kitchen’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge where July’s ingredient was Tea. I got so excited thinking of all the fun tea flavors I could use to come up with something new, wondrous, and magical, when it struck me that I wanted to create a flavor combo as an homage to something that already exists and is loved – The Creamsicle.
Now I’ll be honest, I never much cared for Creamsicles (I prefer the color orange to the flavor). However, once I got the idea of an orange cupcake with a light and sweet topping, that’s all I could think about. I’d debated using a mild vanilla buttercream, using shortening in place of butter to make it even more neutral, but the whipped cream frosting was just the ticket. It wasn’t too sweet so it didn’t compete with, or mask, the flavor of the cupcake which was obviously the main attraction.
The thing that brought me the most joy about these, was that when a few people tried them they said “It takes just like a Creamsicle!” without my having even mentioned that that had been my inspiration in the first place. Other things that made me happy were the smell of my house during and after baking, and taking my first bite only to realize how I’d exceeded even my own expectations for how good these would turn out!
Here’s a note about the tea I used. Most orange teas I came across were Orange Spice, or Black Tea with Orange. I knew deep down that someone, somewhere, had to make a regular orange flavored tea. Lo and behold – Tazo did. I knew once I found it that I couldn’t go wrong – it has such a sweet aroma, fantastic flavor, and was such a bright shade of orange I couldn’t help but smile. I had a test mug of tea before I made the cupcakes, just to make sure it was a good fit, and it was.
This recipe probably yields about 16 regular sized cupcakes. I made 4 normal sized ones and the rest as minis in case they didn’t come out as I’d hoped. These rise a lot, so you won’t want to fill the cupcake liners too much – about halfway – and you might end up getting more cupcakes than I did (bake and learn, right?). So here’s my recipe, and I hope you find these as tasty as we all did!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter – room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups AP flour
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Tazo Brand Sweet Orange Tea – use 2 tea bags
Start off by preheating your oven to 350ºF. Line about 16 muffin tins with papers – you may need more, so have a few extra on hand!
Then, boil water and use a little over the half-cup you’ll need to steep 2 tea bags until you’re ready for it. The more water you use, the more it will be diluted, so I’d recommend doing just a bit over 1/2 cup. If you’d like, you can also use 3 tea bags for even more flavor. Let the tea cool to room temp, then squeeze out the tea bags. If there’s a little more than 1/2 cup of tea that’s fine, if it’s a lot more then re-measure it.
Mix together your flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until it’s fluffy. Add the vanilla and orange zest, and then each of the eggs one at a time – blending until incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
I wish I had a picture to show you of this, but mine came out blurry, so boo to that. Anyways, add 1/3 of the flour mix to the mixer, blend a bit until almost incorporated, then add half the tea, then more flour, the rest of the tea, then the rest of the flour until it’s completely mixed together. The important thing here is to start and end with the flour. Also, you might still need to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure there’s nothing hiding down there that didn’t get mixed in.
Portion out your batter into the muffin tins making sure they’re only about half full. Mine overflowed a bit because I didn’t realize how much they were going to rise. That might also be why I had to bake them for a bit longer than I had expected. But they do have those pretty little domes as Jamianne over at Sweetest Kitchen commented.
Same deal for mini-cupcakes. Make sure they’re only about halfway full, not 3/4 as I tried to do. (Although, they do look pretty funny when they’re all explody like that. They’re a visual oxymoron.)
Bake for 17-20 minutes. (Bake the minis for 13-15) I’d say even when the tester says they’re done, leave them in a bit longer so they can brown a little on top. Unfortunately, they’re not some fantastical orange color, but I couldn’t bring myself to add food coloring. You, of course, can do as you wish!
I’d considered adding a little orange zest to the whipped cream topping, but the cupcakes were so full of citrus flavor already and any extra flavoring in the frosting might just be superfluous. Plus I really wanted to highlight the “cream” part of the Creamsicle flavor I was going for. Most whipped cream is 1 cup whipping cream and 1 Tbsp of powdered sugar, but I didn’t want this to be too sweet, so I used the combination below:
SLIGHTLY LESS SWEET WHIPPED CREAM
- 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
You can adjust the ratio to suit your needs, I’d originally planned to do the whipped cream without any sugar, but that didn’t taste very good – even with the all the sweetness of the cupcake. One thing I do know, however, is I’m more sensitive to sweetness than most people so you should do your topping to taste.
These cupcakes were fantastic, and I really hope you get a chance to make them, or shall I say “experience” them. I’m sure you could even cut the sugar in the recipe by a bit and serve these as muffins for breakfast – with whipped cream on top, of course.
Also, on a personal note, I’ve been so inspired by this month’s secret ingredient that I’m totally looking into some other fun and magical tea flavors that could be transformed into cupcakes! Yay!