Before I dive into these blood orange-infused chocolate cupcakes, I want to give you a head’s up that this post is going to be a little bit personal, so if you’re more interested in the recipe feel free to scroll down past the next few paragraphs. I’ll be honest, guys—last year was pretty intense. I ended up working a kiiiiiind of crazy amount. Part of that work required me to be away from home a lot, and I really missed being home with Jeremy and the animals and the garden. Writing my book while doing all of this was very stressful, mainly because I am a perfectionist and I love my next book so much that I agonized over making sure everything in it was juuust right. I turned in my book on January 15th and then was working on revisions until February 13th, and then went out of town again for work. And although I thought I’d start off 2017 by being more diligent about posting here, I ended up being so crazy with work and traveling for work that I fell really behind on all the recipes I wanted to share with you guys. Since January 1st, I have been on 18 different airplanes. I am writing this on February 20th. I wanted to be better about saying no to things and putting personal relationships and personal well-being first this year, but I’ve already failed pretty hard at that. I have this FOMO that takes over every time an opportunity comes up. I used to always say yes to pretty much every work-related project that came along, but that left me super burnt out, and now I’m definitely better about being more selective about what I do, but the whole work/life balance is still tricky nevertheless. As a freelancer, I struggle with saying no, especially when people ask me to do something nicely. I know what projects I don’t have the time for and what I should say no to, but I am such a people pleaser that I just really intensely hate letting people down, and saying no to someone, even professionally, makes me feel like a big jerk. I know that’s unreasonable, but that’s just how I feel. Every time I say no to something a little part of me winces and frowns.
I want to be home more. I want to be a better wife and be more present everyday instead of thinking constantly about work during personal time. I want to be able to be with my garden all summer long without worrying about anything frying up in the sun or getting crushed in a freak rainstorm. I just want to nest for a little bit. And I am stupidly lucky to be able to have a job where that’s completely feasible and I can totally work from home and stay there and make that happen. The only person stopping me from doing that is me. And I don’t know how to stop me. I have this manic drive that takes over where I just want to keep doing more and more and more—I love the feeling that comes from getting a lot of things done and being really efficient and productive. It’s almost like a high. But I know that maintaining that high isn’t good for those closest to me, because it makes me a more stressed out, distracted, and sometimes unpleasant person to be around. I’m going to really, really try to hold back a little bit and be better about boundaries with work and personal time, (no more phone/computer/working past 7 pm) and be more selective about what I chose to do and who I chose to work with. I’ve had some wake-up calls recently that have made me a little more guarded and selective in general, which I think is for the best. I think a part of growing older is growing more cautious—I’m trying to be more aware of the pitfalls of certain activities and relationships and using that awareness to guide my decision-making to live an overall healthier life. What about you guys, do you struggle with maintaining work/life balance? Do you have any advice? Did seeing a therapist change your life? You are all very wise and I would love to hear any similar experiences you’ve had and how you worked through your work/life balance problems.
So, let’s change gears and talk about chocolate! These guys are the most moist chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. Usually I shy away from chocolate cupcakes at bakeries because they tend to be on the dry side, but these ones have a special combination of brown butter, creme fraiche, and orange zest that keeps them super rich and chocolatey while still slightly refreshing. I scooped out little bits of the cake from each one and filled them with blood orange curd and then topped them with a very simple chocolate ganache (only 2 ingredients), and some candied blood oranges. If you want to make this simpler, you can cut out the candied blood oranges and even the orange curd and still get a bit of orange flavor from the zest (but I highly recommend getting some curd in there because it goes SO good with the ganache). Hope you guys enjoy these chocolate cupcakes and thanks for sticking with me through my rambling 🙂
Blood Orange Cupcakes
Candied Blood Oranges
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 blood orange (cut into 1/8 inch thick slices)
Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoom finely grated blood orange zest
Blood Orange Curd
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons blood orange juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Candied Blood Oranges
Bring the sugar, water, and vanilla extract to a boil in a medium frying pan. Reduce heat to low and add the blood orange slices in a single layer. Allow to cook in the syrup for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through. Remove them from the syrup and allow to cool on a wire rack, then cut them into quarters.
Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Melt the butter in a medium stainless steel or white enameled saucepan over medium low heat. Continue cooking it until the butter smells nutty and toasty and turns deep gold in color, then remove it from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and salt and mix at low speed with the paddle attachment to combine. Add the brown butter, water, and egg and beat at low speed until smooth. Add the creme fraiche, whole milk, vanilla extract, and blood orange zest and mix at low speed until just combined.
Evenly distribute the batter between the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean. Remove the lined cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Blood Orange Curd
In the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of the blood orange juice, and the butter. Continue whisking until the mixture has noticeably thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in the remaining 2 teaspoons of blood orange juice and place the top of the double boiler in an ice bath to help the curd cool as you whisk it until cooled to room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
Heat the cream in the top of a double boiler until warm, add the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow the ganache to cool to room temperature before transferring the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beating at medium high speed until smooth and slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scoop 1 tablespoon out of the tops of each of the cupcakes and fill the holes with 2 teaspoons of the blood orange curd. Top with the chocolate ganache and a quarter slice of the candied blood oranges and serve.