Go Back
+ servings
Tender vanilla cake is filled with fresh cranberries and orange zest, then topped with cream cheese frosting in these cranberry orange cupcakes. Great for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert! | justalittlebitofbacon.com
Print

Fresh Cranberry Orange Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tender vanilla cake is filled with fresh cranberries and orange zest, then topped with cream cheese frosting in these cranberry orange cupcakes. Great for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Sugared Cranberries

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar

Cranberry Cupcakes

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, approximately
  • 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 8 tbsp (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened but cool
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened but cool
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

Instructions

Sugared Cranberries

  • In a small saucepan bring the sugar and water to a boil and dissolve the sugar completely. Let the syrup rest for 5 minutes to cool it, then pour it into a bowl with the cranberries. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Drain the cranberries and shake them out a bit to make sure you only have a thin coating of the syrup on them. Spread out the superfine sugar on a plate and roll the cranberries in the sugar. Test out the rolling with just a couple at first. If the coating seems gloppy or thick, shake out the cranberries some more or pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Transfer the cranberries to a tray lined with wax paper and let them dry for 1-2 hours. Once they are ready the sugar will have formed a stable crust.

Cranberry Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Set out a standard sized 12 well muffin tin and fill the wells with cupcake liners.
  • Using a food processor or a knife, roughly chop the cranberries until you have 1 1/2 cups of chopped cranberries.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl rub the sugar and the orange zest together until the sugar is fragrant. Using a stand mixer with the flat beater on medium speed, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat in.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Beat until just mixed together with a little flour still showing. Take the bowl of the mixer off the stand, add the cranberries, and fold them in with a silicone spatula.
  • Divide the batter among the 12 wells in the tin. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the cupcakes are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Let them rest for 2-3 minutes, then carefully take them out of the muffin tin and let them cool on a cooling rack. Can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter on high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix in. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low until combined, then increase the speed to high and beat together until smooth.
  • Pipe or spread frosting over the tops of each cupcake. If you wish, sprinkle a bit of red sanding sugar over to decorate. (Another good idea would be to use themed sprinkles depending on the occasion.) If you made the sugared cranberries, top each cupcake with 2 or 3 of them.

Notes

  • Butter Temperature: In order for the butter to aerate properly during the creaming step it needs to be pliable but still quite cool. The best temperature for butter when you start is somewhere between 60-65F and it's best to be closer to the 60 degree mark since the mixer is going to warm things up. If your butter is actually soft, get out another stick of butter and try again.
  • Filling the Muffin Wells: I use a #24 Disher to scoop out my batter. I fill it up a little rounded and it gives me just the right amount to fill the wells without overfilling. Using the disher you will have some batter leftover. If I'm in the mood I make 1-2 more cupcakes with it.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: Though I use the stand mixer for the cupcakes, I usually make my frosting with the hand mixer. I like having more control over the angle of the beaters and how I'm mixing. Also, you will need to double the frosting recipe if you want to pipe the frosting high on the cupcakes.
  • Cream Cheese: You can use standard cream cheese or neufchatel cheese in the recipe. Both work.
  • Sugared Cranberries: These are completely optional, but they are fun to do and they give the cupcakes a little extra pop.
  • Superfine Sugar: Sometimes you can find this in the store, but not always and it costs more than standard granulated sugar. To make your own, add granulated sugar to a blender and grind for 30 seconds until it is superfine. I usually process it by the cup and make a couple cups at a time to store away.
  • Timing: I gave the timing just for making, cooling, and frosting the cupcakes. If you want to make the sugared cranberries, you will need to start them the night before.