Pumpkin Orange Mini Cakes with Sugar on Top

I admit that I've had this post sitting in my queue since before Thanksgiving.

My plan had been to post it just before the big feast day as an easy holiday dessert idea, but the craziness took over, and the recipe was left, semi-forgotten, for nearly three weeks.

So wrong. So sorry.

So here's the thing. Sometime around late November, when the citrus fruit comes rocking back into season with a sunny vengeance, I get citrus happy and start adding orange zest to everything.


I've got, like,  three orange zest-filled recipes coming your way soon. But this one? Ahh...this one was particularly lovely. Soft little mini cakes, flavored with a hint of cinnamon and orange, and then dusted with a generous shower of powdered sugar.

The base recipe for these comes from David Leite, and it's pretty much my go-to as far as pumpkin cake is concerned. If you're so inclined, these would be awesome with a cream cheese frosting (try the maple-orange cream cheese frosting I make for my carrot cake--it's divine), but I really prefer the sugar on top, which just makes you want to lick your fingers and reach for a second or (hey!) even third.

(They are mini cakes, after all.)

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Pumpkin Orange Mini Cakes with Sugar on Top
Makes about 2 dozen mini cakes. Inspired by a recipe by David Leite

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
Zest of 1/2 large navel orange
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with liners.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, followed by the buttermilk, vanilla, and pumpkin puree. Delicately stir in the dry ingredients, just until combined.

Divide into cupcake pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Before serving, brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle generously with confectioner's sugar. Serve immediately.

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