“Hostess” Orange Cupcakes

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An online chat with some friends about what recipes from childhood we’d like to recreate helped me arrive at a craving for Hostess orange cupcakes. Since Hostess is now defunct (did anyone actually think that days after the announcements Hostess products would literally be off the shelves for good? I certainly didn’t), I have no choice BUT to make them myself. And yes, I prefer the orange to the chocolate.

I found only ONE recipe online purporting to recreate this deliciousness, so I will link back and not entirely reproduce so as not to steal her traffic.

Recipe for Hostess Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients: See link back for amounts, and note that in addition to typical baking inputs, you’ll need oranges (I think I used 4) and orange flavored liqueur. Although I used orange extract instead.

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Orange Cupcakes:
cake flour
baking powder
salt
unsalted butter, softened
granulated sugar
eggs
finely grated orange zest (I was able to get all that I needed plus some from one orange)
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freshly squeezed strained orange juice (I have no juicer so just cut oranges in half and squeezed the crap out of them. I think I used 3-4 oranges for what I needed).
whole milk
Cream Filling:
unsalted butter, softened
confectioners’ sugar
heavy cream
vanilla extract
Orange Glaze:
confectioners’ sugar
strained fresh orange juice
orange-flavored liqueur (Note – I didn’t want to buy a bottle of liqueur that I’d never use again, so I found something online saying you can substitute 1 tsp orange extract for every 1 tbsp of orange liqueur required, and this seemed to work well for me).
Orange food coloring

Royal Icing Squiggle: [I didn’t actually make this part. Too exhausted after the rest and kid troubles and issues with the cream filling, etc. If I HAD made it, I intended to just use my own milk and powdered sugar recipe without the eggs that I used on the gingerbread cookie recipe. But sharing here for those who want to follow the recipe precisely]

confectioners’ sugar
liquid pasteurized egg whites
1 tablespoon warm water
Instructions:
Mix dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar as directed in original recipe, then add eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Reduce speed and add flour mixture alternated with milk (3 adds of flour, 2 of milk). Pour into baking cups (2/3 full) and bake 18-22 minutes until tootpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan (this is important and I missed this causing some issues).
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For filling, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat at high. Add the cream and beat for another minute. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain or star tip. [This is where we had issues. I followed the instructions but for some reason my cream filling got very thick and almost solidified, and the cream didn’t blend into it but kept separating out. It got worse when I put it in the pastry bag. It was so thick it wouldn’t really move through the bag or tip and just squirted the liquid out and eventually the pressure made the bag and tip burst open. Ugh.]
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To fill the cupcakes you’re instructed to cut a hole in the bottom of each with a paring knife in an x shape, put the tip in, and fill with frosting. With all the frosting bag issues, I finally was able to force it out of a very wide tip but only could get a small amount of cream in each. Then, because the cupcakes weren’t cooled enough, by the time they were done all the cream filling had melted. Blah. I also wasn’t sure whether you were supposed to cut the hole and add the filling with the liners on or off. I did on at first, which seemed to messy, so then tried off, but then they didn’t go nicely back in the liners, so back again. Just a mess.
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Now the orange topping. You mix the powdered sugar with the orange juice and liqueur (or extract) into a fine paste. Heat until warm, then remove from heat, add orange food coloring (or yellow and red in my case, with 4 drops yellow, and 2 drops red). Leave in saucepan on low heat and dip each cupcake (let excess drip off). It will harden quickly. You also have to keep stirring what remains in the saucepan.
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Again, by this time I was DONE. I’d already had to wash the entire mixing bowl and apparatus once, spent way more time than was reasonable messing with cream filling, etc. Did I mention that my 3.5 year old declined to help me bake, then after the cupcakes were in the oven, came in crying saying “start it over” (sorry bub, doesn’t work that way)? And it was past dinner time by now.
Anyways, they really weren’t bad. Especially the glazed part. But way too much effort for the reward.
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