Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blood Orange and Pomegranate Cupcakes


Life has been busy these days.  Between getting sick, entertaining visiting friends, and working long hours to prepare for a big presentation at work, I feel like February has flown by.  Winter is quickly coming to a close and spring is right around the corner.  But, winter isn't over yet, and that means that here in San Diego, beautiful citrus is still plentiful.   


At the markets, local farmers are still sharing sweet Cara Cara oranges, large Ruby Red and Oro Blanco grapefruits, and popular Meyer Lemons.   But it's the tart Blood Oranges that I really can't resist.  

From the outside, blood oranges look just like any other orange.  You might be lucky enough to spy an blood orange by a slight blush on the rind, but not always.  Usually the dimpled skin the color of late-afternoon sun belies the crimson flesh that is characteristic of this citrus.  I am powerless to resist the hidden beauty of the blood orange, so when I decided to create a cupcake for the POM Wonderful cupcake contest, there was no question that I wanted to work blood oranges into  my recipe.  



After some careful thought, I decided I wanted to flavor a basic cupcake recipe with pomegranate and blood orange, and then top the cupcake with pomegranate glaze and a whole candied blood orange slice.  The idea was originally inspired by a vanilla bean cupcake topped with a candied lemon slice that I had seen in Martha Stewart's Cupcakes; I thought the candied citrus topping the cupcake was really beautiful and unique and I figured blood oranges would work just as well as lemons for candying. 

If you have never had candied citrus before, you can expect it to taste extra sweet but also still have some bitterness in the rind.  Depending on how long you cook them, the rind will become softened and will yield easily to a bite. 

Isn't the color just incredible??!

The candied blood oranges turned out to be a huge success (I couldn't stop snacking on the extras!), and also a catalyst for the pomegranate glaze: I had originally planned to make a separate glaze from scratch but when I saw the ruby-colored syrup leftover from candying the oranges, I had a stroke of genius and decided to use the syrup as the base for my pomegranate glaze.  Waste not want not, right? 

I added pomegranate juice to the cooled syrup, and reboiled it to reduce it and increase the thickness.  I didn't want to add any other thickening agents to the glaze, because I felt that would just further complicate the recipe and might mar the lovely glassy appearance.   


And with all this talk about glaze and candied citrus, lets not forget the cupcakes which were delicately flavored with pomegranate juice, orange zest, and vanilla.  They had a light-as-air bouncy texture, and a less dense crumb, which I liked.    


Check out this adorable tea towel.  My equally adorable friend Jill got it from Anthropologie.  Love it.

With all the flavors combined (should I insert the appropriate Captain Planet joke here?) I could taste both the pomegranate and the blood orange, but the cupcake was only slightly tart; the sugar from the candied citrus as well as the glaze gives enough sweetness so your mouth will stretch into a smile rather than a pucker when you take a bite.  

Now I should mention there is one caveat: These cupcakes don't have a dense crumb and they don't have anything thick such as frosting that prevents the glaze from soaking into the cupcake, so these beauties are best glazed, served, and eaten immediately.  With these lovely flavors, I can't imagine that these cupcakes won't be devoured on the spot, but if they sit for a few hours the glaze will saturate the top of the cupcake.  Just f.y.i. 

And lastly, I want to mention that the recipe for the candied blood oranges is fantastic on its own, and you could use it to candy almost any thinly-sliced citrus (and make a corresponding glaze).  Think of the possibilities! 


If you feel so inclined, my cupcake is still entered into the POM Wonderful Cupcake Contest and I would love your vote!  Honestly, unless you start voting for my cupcake in droves, I think my chances of winning are slim; some recipes have over 500 votes already while mine only has a meager 90 or so votes.  If you think these are winning cupcakes, just head to the POM Wonderful site and click the 'vote' button on my recipe. There is also the option to share the recipe on facebook or twitter.  The contest is open until February 28th, and you can vote once a day until then.  Thanks for your support! 
___________________________


Blood Orange and Pomegranate Cupcakes


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup POM wonderful pomegranate juice
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
zest from two small blood oranges (or other small orange)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup, plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs

Line a muffin tin with baking cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, POM juice, vanilla extract, and orange zest, and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy, then add sugar and continue to beat for about 3 minutes, or until butter and sugar is fluffy and pale yellow.  Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until mixed well.  Turn the mixer to low speed, add half of the flour mixture, and beat until incorporated.  Next, add all of the milk and POM mixture and mix.  (The batter will look lumpy.)  Finally, add the remaining half of the flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat until everything is just incorporated. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking cups to fill them about ¾ of the way to the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes.  To test for doneness, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely.   

To decorate, spread the top with a small amount of pomegranate glaze, and then top with one candied orange slice.  Serve immediately, as the glaze will soak into the cupcake over time.  

Candied Blood Oranges, and Pomegranate Glaze

2 medium blood oranges
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup POM wonderful pomegranate juice

Slice the top and bottom off of each orange, and then slice each orange into approximately 1/8-1/4 inch slices.

In a large, wide stockpot, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar granules are all dissolved.  Add the blood oranges in a single layer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn the orange slices over, and simmer for another 10-20 minutes or until they are translucent and the rinds look softened.  Let them cool slightly, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with wax paper. (If you make these ahead of time, transfer them to a container and pour the syrup over them to store.)

To make the glaze, add the POM juice to the syrup still in the pot, and reheat over high heat until boiling.  Let the mixture boil uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until the top of the liquid is covered with bubbles.  Turn off the heat, and let the glaze cool before using.

76 comments:

  1. They are gorgeous! What a divine combination. Your picture of the organge slices is magnificent.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Oh honey, this is a truly inspired idea. I've used blood oranges for a lot of things, but never for cupcakes! You are an evil genius! ;)

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  3. All the pictures are amazing! Beautiful job :)

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  4. Oh MY!! These belong on the cover of some magazine... definitely the most beautiful of all the cupcakes on the contest page. I can see these on Top 9 tomorrow and then as the contest winner (Buzzed and voted!!). Just brilliant!!
    We are loving the oranges too. I planted a Blood Orange Tree a few years back, but he doesn't get the proper light and is just sitting there, not really doing anything. Cara Cara is another variety that we can't get enough of!
    There is a lady at the Leucadia Market that I've been getting the Blood oranges from. Love it!

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  5. Wow, these are beautiful! I love the candied slice on the top, such a fun and different topping for a cupcake. I wish I could reach through the monitor and stick my finger in that glaze!

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  6. That is so amazing! Wow, just look at that red color, gorgeous! What an awesome combination too!

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  7. Gorgeous! Orange and pomegranate are always a great pair, but using the bright red colour of blood oranges to get that gorgeous glistening red glaze is positively inspired.
    I'm still miffed that the POM contest is only open to Americans (as usual), but I've set my annoyance aside long enough to throw a vote your way. :) Good luck!

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  8. Oh my, these are stunning! And the blood oranges are so gorgeous!!! I just voted for you - hope that you win!

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  9. STUNNING!!!! I love everything about this post! The pictures are beautiful!

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  10. What a delicious combination. You've definitely got my vote. Well done! Love the photos and these sticky slices....

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  11. I will vote for anything with blood oranges in it. They are the best oranges of all time. Those cupcakes look beautiful.

    One time I had a blood orange in my lunch at work. A co-worker saw it and asked me what it was. When I said it was a blood orange, she looked a little disgusted and said, "Ewww." I guess she thought there was really blood in it.

    Anyway, I will definitely try this recipe.

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  12. Oh wow what a beautiful cupcakes..delicious! I love your presentation and all the photos, nicely done!

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  13. Stunning color! Sounds like a delicious cupcake, too! I just wish I could find blood oranges where I live...=(

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  14. Those pictures just made my day. The colors are unbelievably gorgeous. I bet the taste was out of this world!

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  15. These cupcakes sound amazing-I have yet to try blood oranges I'm inspired to do so;)

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  16. What a unique take on a cupcake. It's brilliant. And I gotta say - they look pretty darn amazing! I wish you the best of luck in the contest. You have a VERY good chance of winning with these!

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  17. These cupcakes are divine. I just voted foe you in the POM contest. I love the dripping glaze.
    Gorgeous pics, and I can just imagine how good they taste.

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  18. What beautiful cupcakes.. they look straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine :) And anthropologie anything is always a win!

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  19. The tea towel is *perfect* with the colors in the cupcakes! Beautiful post, dear friend!

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  20. OMG! These are art...This is more fuel for my newly found cupcake obsession

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  21. Sorry you haven't been feeling well...these cupcakes are simply perfection! What a way to cheer up these cold, grey days...spring, where are you?

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  22. You know, i usually find cupcakes annoying and dry tasting and half the time i really dont enjoy the icing. But these look so unusual and pretty, i would definitely treat myself to one (or two ;P) of your creation :)

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  23. Every single thing about this post is amazing. These cupcakes look and sound just amazing! Lovely, lovely pictures, too.

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  24. absolutely fabulous!! Gorgeous cupcakes!! I have voted and will vote again!!

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  25. What a genius idea for a cupcake! Simply beautiful! You've got my vote until the contest ends for sure!

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  26. the pictures are amazing. I also voted for your cupcake Goodluck!

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  27. What beautiful cupcakes!! Everything about these cupcakes look incredible! Yummy!! :)

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  28. Your photos are absolutely fabulous! Our local grocery store was giving out free samples of blood orange for the month of January... I may have made a few extra trips just for the samples :) Great post!

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  29. Voted! Those are beautiful cupcakes :D

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  30. these cupcakes are so beautiful. using blood oranges is such a brilliant idea. you have my vote!! Best of luck Amanda

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  31. You took my breath away....truly wonderful treat and photos:)

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  32. Awesome! I made a similar cupcake last year with candied blood orange slices and I love the idea of adding pomegranate. Sounds and looks amazing!

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  33. wow, where do people amass such huge followings?! 500 votes, that's crazy. you've got my vote. good luck cilantropist!!

    random curiosity, why aren't the cupcakes red? was the pom not strong enough to stain the flour?

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  34. oh these look beautiful! (:
    i adore your blog.

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  35. Your beautiful photos here ensured my vote! Good luck and keep posting those stunning photos of yours!

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  36. Pomegranates and blood oranges together sounds spectacular. Now I know you said that the were best glazed and eaten right away but I don't think I would mind one bit if the glaze were to soak into the cupcake! A lovely cupcake, I'm going over to vote for you now.

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  37. Those cupcakes are completely stunning. Just WOW. I would, however, love to capture someone eating one on film! :) This might be the rare occasion to break out a fork and knife for a cupcake! Seriously gorgeous, I love it!

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  38. Veggietestkitchen: Yep, you are right there was not enough to POM to stain the cupcakes. The batter itself was slightly pink, but after baking they lost any color. I thought about adding a drop of food coloring... but then decided against it. Tasted great anyway! ;)

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  39. Gorgeous cupcakes! Just absolutely amazing! I happily voted for you, and wish you the best of luck!

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  40. This are just the most beautiful cupcakes I've ever seen. PERIOD. And I'm not a big cupcakes fan. I must try them while we have wonderful oranges at the farmers' market! Good luck with the competition but I'm pretty sure you will rock with these!

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  41. These are beautiful cupcakes, and even if they don't win the contest, they deserve some praise :)

    I want to thank you for stopping by my blog. It's always great to hear people's thoughts on my posts, especially when they lead me back to their own incredible photography and recipes. I'm excited to have discovered yours.

    Looking forward to more!

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  42. WOW... look at that colour! Enough for me to start wipin off drool from the keyboard :D

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  43. these look absolutely fabulous! I voted for you and you definitely deserve to win! I love your blog and wanted to give you the One Lovely Blog Award. Its on my recent post. You can find it here:

    http://sabrina-eatdrinkandbemerry.blogspot.com/2011/02/bananas-foster-blondies-and-another.html

    have a great weekend!

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  44. I love how shiny the candied fruit is! Gorgeous.

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  45. Doesnt get any more gorgeous, how lovely & special

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  46. These are so pretty I'd almost be reluctant to eat them! Almost, I said. Adam loves blood oranges, they remind him of his Italian past, and I appreciate being able to add this to the treats he can enjoy and reminisce with. Beautiful photos, too!

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  47. I voted...how could I not? Such an outrageously delicious looking cupcake:)

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  48. What incredible photos of gorgeous cupcakes!!! Off to vote~

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  49. Wow..I am blown away. Love it all from the name of your blog to this awesome recipe. It will be on my list of cupcakes to make and moved to the top of that list. The pictures are amazing as well. Thank you so very much for sharing.

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  50. Love this idea.Photos are gorgeous and I love the candies blood orange slice.

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  51. Fantastic post and amazing cupcakes.

    We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite food posts on Food Frenzy.
    Please check out our community.

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  52. These are absolutely stunning! I admire all of the thought and work you put into these. Great job. Congrats on the Top 9 today!

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  53. Looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the recipe and these magnificent pictures. Is really inspiring and you have explained all the steps so thoroughly that even a baking dummy like me can learn it from your blog.:-)

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  54. Wow!! Your cupcakes are incredibly stunning and the colors are amazing. I love the candied blood oranges slices on top of the cupcakes. Just beautiful!

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  55. Amazing flavor combination. The candied blood oranges are so lovely.

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  56. Beautiful cupcakes and I just love the pomegranate and blood orange combination. And I adore candied fruits, the blood orange does have such gorgeous color and lends perfectly to the candied fruit :)

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  57. These cupcakes are SO gorgeous! I bet they tasted amazing. I simply love blood oranges and I love how you candied slices of them. Yum!

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  58. Candied blood oranges!?!?!? You really are a genius!

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  59. wowza! I will be checking out your blog again!

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  60. sinfully divine cupcakes- the last pic with the glaze dripping down is sensational!

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  61. These are positively GORGEOUS! They are so pretty I'm not sure if I could eat them - oh never mind, I would totally eat them because they also sound delicious! We are including these in our Fruity Cupcake roundup today!!

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  62. so pretty! incredible intense color.

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