First let me start off by saying these cupcakes are not for a beginner. They are time consuming and more suited for an intermediate baker. I had a good time with these. I love, love, love filled cupcakes. It adds another dimension to everyday cupcakes. This particular cupcake is a moist, fluffy orange zest cupcake filled with cool cannoli cream and topped with soft bittersweet ganache and smooth almond cream. They are so incredibly delicious! If any of you try this recipe I promise you will not regret it. You may not even want to share.
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange oil
1 cup milk
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons finely diced candied orange peel
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup almond paste
Toasted almonds, for garnish
For the cupcakes: Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 regular-size cupcake pans with liners.
Combine the flour, orange zest, baking powder and salt in a bowl. This is only the second time I have zested this much citrus. I kept sending it flying into my eyes. I recommend eye pro when zesting citrus fruit otherwise you may end up with orange scented eyeballs. I also only used about 1 tablespoon of the zest because I didn’t want an overpowering flavor of orange in the cupcake.
In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 8 minutes.
Slowly add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and orange oil to the mixer. On low speed, gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until smooth. Okay, I was unable to find orange oil so I just used orange extract and the cupcakes still came out beautifully and with great flavor.
When the mixture is smooth, divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake liners. Bake until lightly browned and fully cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
For the filling: With a large wooden or metal spoon, mix the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, chocolate and orange peel in a medium bowl until combined. Make sure to very, very finely chop the candied orange peel. Otherwise you’ll end up with bog chewy pieces in the middle of the cupcake and it won’t be enjoyable.
For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.
In small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream and sugar to a boil ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved. Make sure you stir it. Don’t let it burn to the bottom of the pot.
Pour the cream and sugar mixture over the chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Gradually whisk until smooth. Once it cools its going to be soft and creamy. If its still liquid you need to let it cool longer. You can’t put it on the cupcake until its thick enough to spread like peanut butter, otherwise it will just run off the cupcake and you’ll have an ugly, sloppy mess.
For the almond cream: In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream, sugar and almond paste until the cream is firm enough to pipe on the cupcakes but not too stiff and buttery. Here is the only place I ran into problems. I had never worked with almond paste before. To avoid the issues I had, break the almond paste into small pieces, and beat it with the sugar first. Then slowly add the cream otherwise you’ll end up with a curdled looking almond cream and you won’t be able to pipe it
To assemble: Cut a small hole the size of an apple core in each cupcake and fill with the cannoli cream. I couldn’t seem to find my apple corer at first and tried an orange juicer which also did the job. I eventually found my apple corer buried in the back of the drawer
Spread a small amount of ganache on the entire surface of the cupcake and either pipe or use an off set spatula to add the alond cream to the top. Garnish with toasted almonds.