I have this favorite Christmas book called “The Sweet Smells of Christmas”. It’s the all time best Christmas book EVER!
Admittedly I never remembered what the story was about until I found a copy of the book at TJMaxx this year and actually read it. I know what you’re thinking, “How can you have a favorite book that you don’t even know what the story is about?!”
Let me tell you! This book is so, so, SO much more than the story. In fact, the story is just the afterthought. What makes this book so special are the smells that are scattered throughout the pages. Yes, it’s a good old fashioned scratch n’ sniff book. Do they even make those anymore?
Well, I guess they do because like I said, I snagged a copy at the store and bounded home in delight that I could share my favorite Christmas story with my own kids.
Out of all the smells (peppermint, hot cocoa, pine, apple pie, etc.) the most magical smell is the scent of orange from the orange in little bear’s stocking. I never ever got an orange in my stocking until I married Ben, and now every year an orange and apple are waiting for me in the toe of my overgrown stocking.
And what does this rambling have to do with baking??? Well the recipe I’m about to share smells just as divine as the scratch n’ sniff orange hiding in the pages. Well, I guess these Cranberry Orange Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Frosting smell slightly better than a sticker, but dang that sticker comes close!
These cupcakes remind me of another Christmas stocking favor. The good old whack ‘em Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange! You know those chocolate oranges wrapped in foil that you whack on the table and they break into segments of yumminess. Yeah, those.
That chocolate orange flavor is exactly what you get with these cupcakes. They are a lightly cinnamon and ginger spiced orange cake with fresh cranberries and mini chocolate chips sprinkled throughout. The extra orange zest really gives this cake a boost of citrus flavor.
And what do I top these glorious Christmas cupcakes with??? Well a smooth chocolate orange buttercream of course! Be warned, this frosting is “lick your fingers, lick the spoon, and lick the bowl” kind of good.
So if you are planning on sharing these with friends, save all your licking for the end. Or, you know, just don’t tell anyone…
What is your favorite Christmas story?
- For Cake:
- 1½ sticks butter, room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1¾ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free oat flour
- ¾ cup tapioca starch
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
- 1½ tablespoons freshly grated orange rind
- ½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- For Frosting:
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4½ cups powdered sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- Dash of salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange rind
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line mini cupcake tins with paper liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Beat until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- In a separate smaller bowl, sift together gluten free oat flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In alternate additions, add orange juice and sifted ingredients mixing until just incorporated in between each addition. Fold in orange rind, chopped cranberries, and chocolate chips.
- Fill each liner ⅔ way full and bake at 400 degrees for 11-13 minutes* or until cupcakes spring back with touch of a finger. Remove from oven and immediately transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack, being careful not to burn fingers.
- While cupcakes are cooling, begin making frosting. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Add orange juice and dash of salt. Mix on low until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in orange rind.
- Once cupcakes are completely smooth, spread or pipe with frosting. Top with cranberries and orange rind for garnish