Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes are loaded with bright citrus flavor and are topped with delicious cream cheese frosting. Recipe contains a gluten-free option.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes are loaded with orange flavor and are topped with cream cheese frosting. With a gluten-free option.

As a Texan currently living in gray and dreary Germany, I miss the sun. My husband and I just returned from three weeks visiting friends and family in the South where we enjoyed t-shirt weather for all but a few days. When we returned to Berlin, it was 23°F and in the past 9 days, we’ve had a few hours of sunshine. I’ve never had a harder time getting out of bed!

I don’t like coffee or tea so for a pick-me-up, I turn to citrus goodies this time of year. They always boost my mood and make me a little more energetic. At least until the sugar high is over. ;)

Post-Christmas, I usually go lemon crazy and make a lot of puckery sweets like these mini lemon curd tarts or these gluten-free lemon thumbprint cookies and I thought that making a cupcake version of the ever-popular orange creamsicle popsicles would be a nice change. If you’re not familiar with them, creamsicles have a vanilla cream center and an orange popsicle shell. I’ve never been a fan as I’m just not into popsicles but I can totally get on board with the orange, vanilla and cream combination!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes of brimming with bright orange flavor and topped with cream cheese frosting. So delicious! Recipe contains a gluten-free option.

The cupcakes aren’t overly fluffy but they’re not dense, either. The gluten-free version is actually a little lighter than the one with all-purpose flour and you can’t tell any difference at all in taste or texture! If you’re not in the mood for orange, replace all the orange ingredients (extract, juice and zest) with lemon or lime.

To frost them, I opted for a cream cheese frosting. Because cream cheese frosting makes everything better. I just can’t imagine using buttercream when you could have cream cheese frosting instead!

Normally when I make cupcakes, I try out a few different tips and spend ages practicing, then piping the frosting on the cupcakes, and finally deciding they’re all ugly and need to be re-done. It’s a big time suck. With these creamsicle cupcakes, I wanted to try something else.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes are loaded with orange flavor and  topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting. Recipe contains a gluten-free option.

I’d read about using a plastic freezer bag for piping but never tried it since I had proper piping bags and a big set of piping tips. That was silly of me! I love how easy it was to frost these cupcakes using that method and I didn’t feel compelled to redo a single one. What I did was cut a small hole, about 1/4″, in the corner of a freezer bag and filled it with frosting. You can make it a little bigger but I liked the squiggly appearance that resulted from the small cut.

Looking for some more citrus treats? Try Jamie’s chewy lime sugar cookies or Meyer lemon meltaways!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free version*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the gluten-free flour blend:

  • 1 cup (140 grams) white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup (51 grams) potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (20 grams) tapioca flour / starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • If you need these cupcakes to be gluten-free, make sure all your ingredients are certified gluten-free.

For the frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, orange extract, vanilla extract, orange juice and orange zest. Beat on medium until no lumps of butter remain. Gently fold in half of the flour mixture until combined, followed by 1/4 cup of buttermilk, the remaining flour mixture, and then the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk.
  4. Divide the batter between the liners, filling them about 2/3 full. For the all-purpose version, bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the gluten-free version, bake for 17-19 minutes.
  5. Immediately remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy. Add the cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined.
  7. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar on low. If you add all the sugar at once, the frosting may turn out runny. Frost the cooled cupcakes.
  8. Store unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature for 1 day and refrigerate frosted cupcakes for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.
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