“I don’t eat carbs.” It’s a refrain frequently heard these days, but quite frustrating if you love baking, which tends to produce large quantities of foods that cry out to be shared. But even Atkins and South Beach dieters may relent when offered samples of the recipes in Judith Sutton’s Sweet Gratitude: Bake a Thank-you for the Really Important People in Your Life (Artisan, $15.95). These desserts and snacks make great gifts and, as the author claims, will “sweeten your bonds with the important people in your life.” There are make-ahead directions, helpful tips for storing and shipping, and plenty of instructions for beginning bakers. As you’ll surely agree if you try the recipe below, cupcakes aren’t just for kids.—Jennifer Melick
3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
14 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure orange extract
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 c. whole milk
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with foil or paper liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange extract and zest. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk in two additions, just until incorporated.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, each about two-thirds full. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (Cupcakes may be baked up to one day ahead and stored in airtight container at room temperature.)
8 oz. cream cheese, cold and cut into chunks
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. pure orange extract
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and creamy. Beat in orange zest and extract. On low speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar in two additions until smooth.
Spread frosting generously over cupcakes, or transfer frosting to pastry bag fitted with large star tip and pipe a generous swirl onto each cupcake. (Frosted cupcakes may be stored in airtight container in refrigerator up to two days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
Recipe from December, 2005 Issue.
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