Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sunshine Cupcakes

A few summers ago, I vacationed in upstate New York at the Finger Lakes at my friend's lake house. I know right?! Before you get too jealous of my wonderful connections, I'll tell you that it rained 75% of the time I was there, ruining my plans to sunbathe and water ski to my heart's content. (I have fair skin and can not tan and I've never water skiied a day in my life, but when imagining a summer on a lake one fantasizes of these things.)
One day my friend's neighbor kindly brought us treats. She had baked a "sunshine cake" and I laughed at the irony of it. Also, the fact that the cake was chilled made it seem even less sunny to me. However, with the first bite of my slice, all my cynicism was obliterated by the fresh citrus punch of the cake. The mandarin oranges lend a sweet moisture to the cake while the smooth cream cheese mixed with tangy pineapple compliment the cake to create a citrus "sunny" flavor.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners. In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix cake mix, eggs, canola oil, and mandarin oranges on low speed until completely combined, then continue to mix on high until fluffy (2-3 minutes)

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes until they look like this

Golden brown. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy. Add vanilla, sugar, drained pineapple, and Jello mix and beat until Add yellow food coloring, if you want your frosting to be extra sunny. I didn't, but next time I will! 

 Frost your cooled cupcakes or eat the frosting with a spoon....I won't judge


I wish my camera could pick up the moisture content of these cupcakes. Garnish with candied lemon peel, orange peel, colored sugar, etc if desired. Stick them in the fridge. Room temp, these cupcakes are pretty good, but cold and rested they are AMAZING! So try to be patient.

Sunshine Cupcakes:

recipe by Sweet & Savory

1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/4 cups canola oil
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, undrained and crushed

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cups (2 sticks) salted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cups powdered sugar
1 box Jello cheesecake mix
yellow food coloring, if desired


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake liners. In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with rubber spatula. Add crushed mandarin oranges with juice and beat for 3 more minutes.

Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla, pineapple, powdered sugar, and Jello mix and beat until combined. Stir in a few drops of yellow food coloring, if desired.

Have at it! Frost your cupcakes and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight before serving.

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