Have you ever eaten Hostess Orange cupcakes? They're dangerous.
Fortunately for me, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, these little cupcakes aren't available in my little tiny town. If you have eaten them you know, that when you want one, there's not a lot that will satisfy that craving - except a Hostess Orange cupcake. I thought I could make some...Sometimes, things don't quite work out like I think they should. In the end I ended up with something like little creme filled orange petits fours.
Having had success with making my own Suzy-Q's previously, I decided that it might be worth trying to make a variation of the orange cupcakes.
I started by figuring out what I thought might work for the cake. I used the following:
1 box Duncan Heinz Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden cake mix
1/3c flour (box recommends 1/3c +1 tbsp for high altitude, but hey, I'm a rebel)
1/2 c. water
2/3 c. oil
Red & Yellow food coloring
The box uses 1/2 c butter and 2/3c water. But, well, I just didn't want to be bothered with butter.... and I like to reverse the quantities of oil & water in my cakes. They just come out so much more moist.
I added two tablespoons of Orange extract - be sure to use the "pure" stuff which is just orange oil and alcohol. I also added in two drops of red and one drop of yellow food coloring.
I poured it into a 9x13 pan and baked according to the package directions, with one exception. I noticed 18 minutes into the cooking that the cake was getting dark colored so I reduced the heat from 375 to 325. I considered cupcakes, but not having a pastry bag or any other way to "inject" filling into them later, I figured I'd just cut the cake into bars and fill like I did the Suzy-Q's. I suppose I could have used a baggie, but the thought didn't occur to me until later.
I found that my cake was cooked completely at the lower time frame of 28 minutes. Once it was done baking I set it on a wire rack in my pantry (where it's much colder than the house) to cool off quickly.
For the frosting I was really at a loss. I'd talked with "cake" friends who suggested a fondant or modeling chocolate. I started by melting 14 oz of white chocolate discs in a glass bowl in the microwave. You can find them in candy making supply places or in bulk in the grocery store.Unfortunately, I only had the remainder of the 1 oz orange extract to flavor it with and that just wasn't enough orange flavor. So, in addition to the orange extract I added the juice of two Mandarins. Hey, it's all about working with what you have on hand right?
After I mixed in the Mandarin juice, I added 2 drops red food coloring and 2 drops yellow - adjust this as needed to achieve the right color. I put it in a large zip loc bag and put it down in the pantry to (hopefully) set up some so I wouldn't be working with runny frosting.
Next, came the filling - once again, I used the recipe I found at Top Secret Recipes.com. I didn't use the "updated" recipe he lists, having found that his original version was just great. Some people comment that it's not exactly like a Hostess creme filling. However... it's fresh and I'll take that any day over the stuff that Hostess makes.
Once the respective parts are made, it's time for the construction process. Take the cake and invert it out of the pan onto a nice smooth counter top.
Cut off as much of the browned edges as you can. Save these - you never know when you might want a little piece of cake crust. Don't laugh... cause now you're thinking about it...
Once you've got all the "crusts" cut off, slice the cake across the 9" width, in slices around 3/8" thick:
Then, cut the slices so that you get 5 pieces from each slice, about 1" square - these will form the two layers of the petits fours.
Now, spread a little of the creme filling on them, make a sandwich and place on parchment, waxed paper or foil in a rimmed pan or cookie sheet:
After all the little sandwiches are assembled, take the orange frosting, which is still quite pourable, and snip the corner off the zip loc bag. Drizzle the frosting back & forth over the tops of the cakes until all of the cakes are covered.
The frosting never really "sets up" so they're absolutely NOT finger food. Though, it does become relatively firm if kept refrigerated and not allowed to come back to room temperature. They ARE a very nice, light dessert, as long as you don't eat more than a couple of them at once. Even LD, who prefers chocolate, had 3 of them!
Store in a container with a lid that does NOT touch the frosting, and keep them in the refrigerator. I can see a whole mess of these in orange, lemon & lime for a tea party or baby shower or even the first BBQ of spring!
Notes after making - These really were a nice, light little treat... if you only eat one or two at a time. I found that if I had it to do again, and wanted to achieve something closer to the Hostess treat I'd do the following;
1. have more orange extract on hand - several bottles of it, particularly when it comes to the frosting, which would omit the need for the orange juice, and would probably result in a frosting more like what is on the Hostess cupcakes.
2. put in more food coloring than you think you need - the cake was still more yellow than orange
3. I would opt for a simple white cake mix, or a cake from scratch next time. Perhaps even a pound cake.
4. I'd definitely make these in cupcake form next time - they'll cook faster and likely with less browning (or at least I think they would). I'll just have to work on my baggie skills.