Vegan Cranberry Orange Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream
The perfect vegan holiday dessert, these Cranberry Orange Cupcakes are infused with orange zest, a hint of ginger, and tart cranberries, and topped with a fluffy brown sugar buttercream. Make them even more festive by decorating them with beautiful sugared cranberries!
In a small pot, stir the sugar and water together. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the sugar water cool for 5 minutes. Cooling is important so the cranberries don't pop when you add them to the syrup.
Add the frozen cranberries, stir gently to coat and let them rest for at least 2 hours. Place a small plate directly over the berries to keep them submerged if some aren't covered. Alternatively, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge overnight before continuing with the recipe.
Drain the cranberries, reserving the syrup for drinks or another use.
Place the remaining cup of sugar on a plate. Gently roll the cranberries in the sugar, making sure all sides of each cranberry are coated. Carefully scoop them up with a slotted spoon or fork and set on a baking sheet for an hour or until dry. The cranberries keep well for a couple of days on the counter on a lightly covered plate away from heat and humidity.
For the Vegan Cranberry Orange Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°F/gas 4. Prepare a standard sized cupcake/muffin baking tray with paper cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and powdered ginger in a large bowl. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the plant-based milk, orange juice, oil, vinegar, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, and mix with a spoon just until combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix.
With a medium scoop or large spoon, fill the paper liners about 2/3 full with the cupcake batter. Do not overfill! You may have extra batter which can be baked as a second batch and enjoyed as muffins. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs. Cool the bases in the tray for 5-10 minutes, then gently transfer each cupcake to a cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
For the Brown Sugar Buttercream:
In a stand mixer with a balloon whisk (or with a large bowl and beaters), beat the vegan butter and brown sugar until creamy and no longer gritty. Add in the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time. Beat for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add in the vanilla and beat another minute. Add plant-based milk if necessary 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches a pipe-able consistency, slightly too firm is easier to manage than too soft. Beat for 5 minutes more.
To Assemble the Cupcakes:
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, add the frosting to a frosting bag with desired tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and top with a few candied cranberries. Add a small spring of rosemary beside the sugared cranberries for contrast if desired.
To Prevent Slouching Buttercream: If you'll be serving these cupcakes in warm temperatures or leaving them at room temperature for more than an hour, you can make the frosting more stable by using cutting the vegan butter with shortening which will prevent the frosting from slumping. Instead of 1 cup vegan butter, use 1/2 cup vegan butter and 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening. Cranberries: If frozen cranberries are not sold where you live, you can use fresh cranberries.To Make Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose flour blend which includes xanthan gum. Storage Suggestion:Store the cupcakes in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or if your kitchen is cool, on the counter. Assembled cupcakes (without the sugared cranberries and rosemary) may be frozen for up to a month in an airtight container.