In high school, I went to a baking and pastry high school and to make a little extra money, I would sell homemade cupcakes. Some of my bigger projects were for weddings and bridal showers, and I also did smaller events like 9 year old’s birthday parties. I actually won third place next to a bunch of professional pastry chefs at a couple of competitions, which was my crowning achievement at the time. I was famously known for my marshmallow buttercream that people used to call “crack frosting”. Obviously I lived that rockstar life back in the glory days of my youth.
Honestly though, going to my high school taught me invaluable lessons about food and the melding of flavors. It helped me land my first job in the industry that eventually led me to my coffee-career and love for food blogging. In a way, it was kind of like a weird, food version of Glee, but I got to do cool things like meet Vic Vegas and work in a bunch of kitchens in the casinos on the Strip. I think going to my high school gave me the confidence to actually start this food blog like, almost 6 years ago?! And luckily, I’ve come a long way since my first post, because *wow* I did not know how blogs worked 😬 I still have memories of having a mental breakdown, because I couldn’t figure out how to make an “About Me” page. I’m still not quite sure why I couldn’t just have a Tumblr page like every other 16 year old in the early 2010s.
I haven’t been making cupcakes “professionally” for a while, but of course, I still love to bake, especially now that I’ve gotten more adventurous with my flavor profile. So when a few weeks ago (well, before Christmas) Molly Yeh posted a recipe for marzipan buttercream, I diiiiiied. Marzipan buttercream is everything I dream about. Plus anytime I make anything with almonds, I immediately have the instinct to shove oranges in there somehow. And (!) since I’m not still in high school, I added orange liqueur, because boozy cupcakes = the best cupcakes.
This recipe is adapted for high altitude, because as I’ve mentioned in the past, for some reason I have to use high-altitude recipes for cakes and nothing else ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’ve been celebrating extra hard, because I *finally* figured out how to adapt my fave cupcake recipe to high-altitude almost five years after moving to Reno!! If you need me, I will be celebrating with extra orange liqueur.
Orange Liqueur Cupcakes + Marzipan Buttercream
Makes about 16 cupcakes
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
1 tsp. orange zest
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. flavorless oil
3/4 c. whole milk**
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Preheat oven to 375* F***.
Beat the butter and sugar together until thoroughly mixed. It will likely remain grainy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely. Add the vanilla extract, orange liqueur, and orange zest. Stir in the buttermilk and oil.
Mix in half of the flour mixture and half of the whole milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mix and milk, stirring just until combined.
Using a scoop, fill cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake, checking for doneness at 15-18 minutes. Cupcakes are done when an inserted toothpick has a few crumbs stuck to it.
Let cool and frost with Molly Yeh’s marzipan buttercream (1/2 recipe). Top with sprinkles!!
*use 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder for sea-level
**use 2/3 c. whole milk for sea-level
***bake at 350* F for sea-level
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Misty Morning by Travis Bretzer