Orange Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting

I am not usually sentimental about ringing out an old year and ringing in a new one. After all, for most of us the new year is nothing more than a continuation of the same old same old except, of course, at birthdays when you get to add a whole extra digit to your age– and that’s not really cause for celebration, is it?

But, I have to say, I am glad 2009 is gone. Whew!

Most of you know what I’m talking about. The whole country– and many other parts of the world– reeled under a recession. It hurt to read news of foreclosures and hardworking people losing their jobs and homes. I read a statistic recently that said 50 million Americans did not have enough to eat at some point in 2009. The number of people without healthcare rocketed. Shelters groaned under the excess burden of animals left homeless by families that were moving or had lost their homes.

I am not saying that a new calendar is going to magically make everything better. But there are definite signs that things are finally looking up and that 2010 could be a better year than its predecessor.

This past year was also the year when an industry I worked for, the American newspaper industry, went through its worst period, perhaps ever. As more and more readers turned to the Internet for news, most newspapers — including industry giants like the New York Times and USA Today — were forced to cut costs and intiate mass layoffs or buyouts. A few newspapers closed shop or went completely online, including the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News.

Then, just as it seemed 2009 could do no more harm, Washington Times, my hometown newspaper, cut nearly half its staff on Dec. 30. For me, this hit close to home. The Times is where I started my career in the United States, first as a reporter on the Metro desk covering schools and later covering Maryland government.
I have great memories of the Times: looking back, it was easily the best workplace I’ve ever been in, not to mention the most professional. The newsroom was huge, although we had just a fraction of the manpower of our main competitor, the Washington Post.

The Times has a conservative bent, but that did not mean anyone told us what to think or write: in fact, I remember many Democrats on the newspaper staff (and I consider myself very liberal) who focused on just one thing at work: doing their jobs as best as they could. But they also found the time to be nice to one another: something journalists don’t always do, as cynical a group as we are.

Being a conservative newspaper in the nation’s capital city which votes 90 percent Democratic was not easy, and we worked hard to get stories that fell into the laps of Washington Post reporters. I remember being snubbed by Maryland gubernatorial candiate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s spokespersons who wouldn’t let me within 10 yards of her for fear that I would ask her a difficult question that she couldn’t answer (no one was surprised when she lost that election). I remember investigating a corrupt school administrator and having the schools spokesperson leak the story to a more sympathetic Post reporter before I could write my exclusive.

Despite all this, we more often than not scooped the Post on key issues. It was always a thrill and always a victory well earned.

The thought, then, of so many people I knew and cared about losing their livelihoods was easily the worst way the year could have ended.

I no longer work for newspapers so I am just an observer now. Then why do I worry?

Well, it’s because I think each one needs to be concerned about a world without newspapers or at least newspaper-style journalism, if we are to make sense of our complicated world. We need to get our news from dedicated, shoe leather journalists in search of the truth, not biased armchair news bloggers and television pundits, telling us what is going on around us and what to think of it. Or even from television news reports that focus on the sensational or on celebrities to attract viewers. Don’t you agree?

And now it is time to move on to something sweeter and something alcoholic to toast the new year. My Orange Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting.

I added some Triple Sec, which is an orange-flavored liqueur, to my orange cupcakes because they give it just that tiny bit of je ne sais quoi…that hint of tantalizing mystery any cook loves in a recipe. You can just as easily leave it out, though, and use more orange juice instead.

I added the Triple Sec to the buttercream frosting as well, and it was wonderful. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all, and a happy new year!

Orange Cupcakes


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Sift all the ingredients into a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, beat together until well-mixed:

1 cup orange juice

2 tbsp orange liqueur like Cointreau or Triple Sec

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk just until you have a smooth batter. Do not overmix or overbeat.

Divide the batter equally among 12 cups of a standard-sized muffin pan lined with cupcake liners.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Orange-flavored Buttercream Frosting


8 tbsp (1 stick) vegan butter like Earth Balance

4 tbsp vegetable shortening

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tbsp orange liqueur

1 tbsp orange zest (optional)

2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar (use more or less depending on how thick you want your frosting, and how sweet).

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and shortening until they are fluffy, about 1 minute.

Now add the orange juice, zest, liqueur and vanilla and half the sugar. Beat until mixed, then add the remaining sugar and beat until mixed. This should take no more than 2 minutes altogether.

Frost the cupcakes after they’ve cooled completely. I sifted some cocoa powder on the cupcakes after I was done, to get a really pretty look. It’s completely optional, of course.=”separator”>

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Booze in a cupcake? Now that is the kind of cupcake which I would crave!

    Happy New Year dear Vaishalli.. wishing you a sweet, healthy year ahead.

  2. says

    Cheers to a happy 2010 and your wonderful vegan recipes. My resolution for this year was to steer away from booze but I will break it for those yummy cupcakes. :)

  3. says

    I am a vegan – but more for economic and enviromental reasons – I love that you are sharing cooking ideas – vegans esp. men like me can never find too many vegan ideas – you are doing a great thing through your sharing.

    What I heard through the rest of your post were things about Newspapers – the thing that I see as possible for the newspaper challenge is TONS of entreprenuers popping up on the internet that can offer massive value to readers. I for one embrace the change of saving paper – IE trees. Does change hurt? Yes. Does change cause people to force to change? Yes. Is it easy to say when you are not the one having to go through drastic change? Yes.

    The spirit of this country was founded on being able to adapt to change and the strong spirit will adapt and grow and offer value – look at what you are offering by sharing vegan ideas. Is making a living from sharing tough? Yes. Is it possible? Yes.

    Kindest regards,
    I love what you are doing here.

    Tom Bailey

  4. says

    That is truly an enlightening reflection about 2009. I also hope that with online sources increasingly replacing newspapers, we are still able to preserve respectable, newspaper-style journalism. While sensational and celebrity-centric stories might provide temporary relief from the chaotic world for some people, readers need true journalism to help us to stay informed about our local and global communities.

    On a lighter note: the recipe sounds wonderful and the cupcakes look delicious! I do so love cupcakes and citrus-flavored treats in general.

  5. says

    Looks delish!!! :)
    Vaishali – do you have a good vegan Tiramisu recipe by any chance??

    Happy New Yr! I look forward to trying more of your recipes this year! :)

  6. says

    Soma, happy new year, and yes, is there anything a little booze can’t improve? :)

    Trinity, Manasi, Binwii, Pavani, Ms. Chitchat, Jaya, Priya, Thanks, all, and a very happy new year to you! Here’s hoping this will be a much better year for all of us and the rest of the world.

    Tom, welcome and thanks. I agree with a lot of what you say about change, and I definitely believe that change is both inevitable and usually for the better. What I am concerned about is not so much the death of the “paper” version of a newspaper but in the death of thoughtful, in-depth reporting that pretty much has no hopes of surviving in the fast-paced, 24/7 news cycle that the Internet and television demand, by their very nature. When reporters have to provide news reports every 30 minutes, they end up speculating on rumors rather than coming up with facts, or analyzing — and that doesn’t help anyone except the television/web company’s ratings.

    Maya, Parita, Thanks

    Tiffany, thanks, and yes, I agree with you on newspaper-style journalism.

    Cham, Dershana, Uma, Thanks, all!

    Charanya, a very happy new year to you. I’ve been thinking of veganizing tiramisu for a long time but haven’t gotten to it yet. Now that you’ve asked, I’ll try to put it near the top of my list. Thanks!

    Jay, welcome, and thanks for your kind words.

  7. says

    A very Happy New year, dear Vaishali, to you and yours…Meant to stop by but am still in the process of getting back on track after a hectic India trip. As always, enjoyed your write up.

  8. says

    I guess I’m also happy, in some sense, that 2009 is gone.

    Wishing you a rather belated Happy New Year full of all you’ve hoped for and more.

  9. says

    I am not a vegan but totally admire those who are, I tried for a couple of months but just couldn’t do it :( Recently due to my son’s dairy and egg allergies I have been looking for vegan recipes. Just took out your orange cupcakes from the oven and they taste simply divine!

    Would like to post this along with the pictures of my cuppycakes on my blog Hope you don’t mind. Will link back to you of course :)

    I used grand mariner though am sure the orange liqueur would be fantastic. I also added some orange zest which I really liked. The funniest part was that I used minutemaid instead of fresh orange juice and it still came out great!
    Made them in mini cupcake molds and they look so cute too!

    Thank you so much for your vegan recipes that make it so easy and which help us to not feel deprived in any way!

    Oh and have you tried this with lemon juice as well? I love citrus-y cakes so really want to try it with lemon juice too though wondering if it might be too tart with 1 cup of lemon juice. Also if I’m doubling the recipe do I just double everything including the baking powder? Thanks!

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