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Blood Orange Cupcakes

Where I work, there is a lovely IT company. They have rescued my computer twice from destruction. Most recently, one of the team members worked on it the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I use my computer for all of my entertainment and for my cooking and baking, so I was not looking forward to a long weekend of food and fun without it! I was sure my computer was dead, but my IT team worked their magic and I had it back and running by 5 pm that night.
To show my gratitude, I told them that they could ask me to make them whatever treat they wanted. The other day, one of them took me up on my offer. She said, “If you were maybe interested in doing some kind of chocolate citrus thing, I wouldn't be bad by it.” Thus inspired, I tried to brainstorm what to make. Orange shortbread drizzled with chocolate? A chocolate tart with a citrus infused crust? It had been some time since I made cupcakes, so I decided it had to be a chocolate cupcake. I love fruit curds to fill my cupcakes, and had a bunch of blood oranges on hand, and so was off to the races.
There is something very lovely about the pink-tinged frosting resting on top the dark chocolate cupcakes. The flavor of orange and chocolate is divine, in my opinion, and the surprise of the curd inside your cupcake is the cherry on top of the sundae. Try these out; you won’t be disappointed!

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Cookie Named Desire
4 oz dark chocolate (I used Hershey’s special dark)
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark)
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso, hot
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup cake purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup blood orange curd

Blood Orange Syrup
1 cup blood orange juice, freshly squeezed
 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Blood Orange Buttercream Frosting

 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted for lumps
7-8 tablespoons blood orange syrup (or more as needed)
 small pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Add your chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and espresso powder into your hot coffee. Mix together until the chocolate is melted and everything is fully combined. Allow to cool to cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. 
Combine your eggs, sour cream and oil into your cooled coffee/ chocolate mixture. Beat them all together well. 
Mix your dry and wet ingredients together until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the paper lined muffin tin until they are about ¾ full. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove and transfer to a wire rack.

Blood Orange Syrup:
Add the cup of freshly squeezed blood orange juice and the sugar into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a thick syrup. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.  
While your cupcakes are still warm, use a pastry brush to lightly coat them with the syrup. Because the cupcakes are warm, the syrup will better penetrate your cupcake. 

Blood Orange Buttercream Frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time, allow everything to combine well. Drizzle in the blood orange syrup one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency and flavor. Add a small pinch of salt.

Final Assembly:

Put your blood orange curd into a pastry bag fitted with a long tip (I used a bismark). Puncture your cupcake and fill it with the curd until it puffs slightly. To frost, fill a pastry bag fitted with your frosting tip of choice with your buttercream. Swirl away! I topped with some sparkle sugar and strips of orange zest.


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