Yum Peaceful Cooking: Orange and Almond Sponge Cupcakes

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Orange and Almond Sponge Cupcakes

What do you do when you have leftover cream cheese icing? besides eat it by the spoonful, smear it all over graham crackers and just about anything else thats handy (index fingers not excluded)?

You make cupcakes!

It helps when you have all the ingredients in your cupboard too....muuaaah hahahaha It was destiny.

The recipe is from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's actually for Gateau A L'Orange et aux Amandes (Orange and Almond Spongecake). Since the whole point of this baking adventure was to use up some icing (before my index finger starting looking like a prune)....and I didn't want to ice a cake...I decided to do the cupcake thing instead.

Not to many ingredients right? And that pile of "powder" on the right side is called (per Ms. Julia herself) pulverized almonds. It sounds so...I dunno, violent? But hey, it gave me the chance to use my brand spankin' new Kitchenaid Food Processor!! (whooo hoooo.....doing the happy dance...I have a real sized food processor now!!!!).

Do you know how to pulverize almonds? I mean...in the "kitchen" sense. Put a cup of almonds in the food processor along with several tablespoons of sugar (this keeps the almonds from getting all lumpy from the oils thus preventing you from adding them to your dry ingredients). Turn on the food processor and "blend" until....well.....until the almonds are thoroughly pulverized I s'pose.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
zest from one orange
1/3 cup orange juice, strained
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup pulverized almonds
1/2 cup cake flour
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat your oven to 350' and line your muffin pan. You'll probably need to line about 10.

Melt the butter and set aside.

Julia suggests that you measure out all your ingredients. I found this tip to be very helpful....that way when things were moving a bit fast....everything was ready and waiting for their turn.

Start out by beating 2/3 cup of sugar into the egg yolks, gradually....and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. I took a picture of this process but it was blurry. But you'll see the ribbon...and it will slowly "melt" back into the batter after it has piled up on top. Oh...and it's such a pretty yellow color too.

Add the orange zest, orange juice and almond extract.

Beat until it becomes light and foamy...should only take a minute or two. Now add the pulverized almonds....and lastly add in the flour.

You can see all the tiny bits of flavorful goodness....between the orange zest and the pulverized almonds....oh man, I can almost smell it all over again.

Now it's time for the really foamy part. In another bowl, beat your egg whites and that pinch of salt until soft peaks form

Nope...not yet...beat a little more but keep an eye on things cuz just when it seems to be taking a long time and you start to let your guard down.....BAM...the soft peaks arrive!

Well shoot....they're there, I swear...you just can't really see it, but its there, folding over onto itself. Anyways....now that you have soft peaks, add in a tablespoon of sugar and beat until those peaks become stiff....

You'll notice also that the egg whites get this pretty shine to them.

Now...remember that butter that was melted a while back? Did you foget about it? Now that it is cool, you can fold it into the cake batter (thats the bowl with the yellow stuff in it...NOT the egg whites). Don't add the residue that has settled in the bottom of the butter pan.

Now its time to work with those pretty peaks. Take one cup of the egg whites and stir into the yellow batter. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites....

Then its time to immediately pour into your prepared pan...all the way up to the rim of the pan. Bake on the middle rack of your oven....shoot. I think I started checking the doneness after 20 minutes with the clean toothpick trick. Another good way to tell is the top is puffed, browned lightly and its springy.

Ok, while those beauties are cooling, lets play with some leftover cream cheese icing.

Here we have about 1 1/2 or 2 cups of regular cream cheese icing...a bottle of cointreau and an orange. Yep...I brought out the heavy artillery. My intent was to add a little flavor and thin the icing out a bit. I started off with 1 tablespoon of cointreau.


Ok, lets add 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice.

Tasted....hmmm....very faint in flavor.

Time to get serious!

And break out the zester. Zested 1/2 of the orange.

OMG!! PERFECT! The icing tastes like orange sorbet. YUM!

This is my cheap-ass, lazy mans icing bag. LOVE IT!!! Talk about easy clean-up

The cupcakes smell incredible. The icing tastes insanely good. Only one minor complaint but it might have been my fault?

All those pulverized almonds sunk to the bottom half of the cupcakes, making it a little denser. Maybe it took too long to fill the muffin tins thus giving the pulverized almonds time to sink. I dunno

But they were still really super duper good.


  1. No idea why the almost sank, but frankly I don't care. Where's the food fax?!

  2. that may be the most appealing cupcake I have ever seen

  3. I love that first picture! So creamy and delicious. I've never tried a Julia recipe before, but now I want to! I love orange flavored desserts - great job!

  4. Wow, this orange and almond cake looks delicious, what a great combination of flavors!

  5. Wow! I love that picture, Danielle! They look delicious...I am a fan of orange flavor desserts.

  6. This will sound funny coming from someone who will take a prep and cook time of 18 hours to smoke pulled pork but, "I would love to eat this but don't have the patience to make it."


  7. This looks amazing, delicious and I'm so impressed. Can't wait to try it myself.

  8. Bob - We really need to get on shane about that fax!!

    Dave - Haha! believe it or not, I'm not much of a cake or cupcake fan...but sponge cake is different all together, you know?

    Kim - Thank you! You really should try one of her recipes. It's not that they're hard, they just have lots of steps and so far, in my experience, it's really been worth it.

    Juliana - The flavor was great! (I still have some of the icing in the fridge and some pulverized almonds...thinking a snack with graham crackers is in order!)

    Thanks Erica :) if you like orange...then you'd really enjoy this.

    Chris - honestly, it didn't take that long! have the wife make it for you while you smoke a pig LOL

    Cristie - let me know what you think :)

  9. I adore almonds and I bet they are super with the orange in your cupcakes. Yours look light and airy- I shouldn't be reading this before I eat!
    I must confess, I haven't made a Julia recipe in years! This is sure a good place to start.

  10. What a fun treat--they look so light and good and I love cream cheese frosting.

  11. OH Danielle! This has to be the most luscious looking cupcake I've seen in a long time. And gorgeous photos too! Truly amazing!

  12. Love the orange almond combo, I make a shortbread with this pairing, so I bet Id throughly enjoy the cupcake. Sink in the middle or not, who cares when it tasted that good!!

    And they look just fine!

  13. Oooooo breakfast cupcakes!!! I want one! What a great use for cream cheese too.


  14. I am always a fan of cream cheese frosting! These look so light and delicious. The last pic has me craving one with my morning coffee.

  15. Yummy! We were both on an orange wave-length!

  16. i was gonna say, what's leftover cream cheese frosting? i'm unfamiliar. and you're right--the finger is always an apt eating utensil. :)
    although i don't mind eat the frosting plain, this is another wonderful vehicle for it--so refreshing and light!

  17. What is "left over cream cheese frosting"? Is there such a thing???? ;) Love the combo. Personally, I don;t care if the almonds sank... Pass me one, quick!

  18. I just pulled mini versions of this cupcake out of the oven and they smell like creamsicles from cake heaven. Trying this recipe was SUCH a good decision. Thanks for posting it in such detail!

  19. Amanda - thats exactly it!! you hit the nail on head!....creamsicles!! YES! haha

  20. I'm not sure how I missed these, but I'm going to give these a serious try. Yum!!


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