Sunday, February 28, 2010

Orange Blossom and Rosewater Cupcakes

Having spent so much of the last few weeks in front of a computer, I am just itching to get back to the kitchen.  What odd is, where I formerly would focus mainly on cooking, I recently have had a pull towards baking.  I think I have this blog to thank for that.  My sweet tooth is a little under-active,  so I've never really had too much cause to bake before (unless it's savory).  Being able to share baking on Peas Love Carrots changes everything, however.  I always had an interest in cake decorating, and now I'm free to play with it!

I've been wanting to do something with flower waters, where you know what flavors you have by the type of flower on the top.  I modeled the flowers after the beautiful carvings I've seen all around Mexico, so often featuring the vibrant blues and folks-y shapes. I love them!

Finding myself with an actual free day yesterday, I decided to dive right in... and make fondant!  Fondant is really one of the coolest, most versatile cake "frosting" out there, but it's usually not terribly tasty.  Pre-made brands, like Wilton, give you convenience, but it tastes a little... off.  Marshmallow fondant is easy to make, and tastes pretty good, too.

For a large batch (you can refrigerate unused portions for months) you'll need...

1 16 ounce bag on mini marshmallows
2-4 tablespoons of water
2 pounds (one standard bag) of powdered sugar
Vegetable shortening to coat hands and finished fondant
Cornstarch for rolling

Place marshmallows in largest bowl that fits in your microwave and toss along with 2 tablespoons water.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove and stir.  Repeat until marshmallows are completely melted and almost soupy (about 2.5 minutes).

With a wooden spoon (it's very hot, don't touch it with bare hands yet), begin folding in powdered sugar at about 1 cup at a time.  You may not use all the of sugar.  You can add a flavor oil now if you like, such as orange or almond.  Use the spoon as much as possible to incorporate the mixture, then grease hand liberally with shortening.  Test to make sure the mixture is cool enough to handle, then begin kneading.  I suggest doing this right in the bowl, but you can also turn the dough out onto a surface, just grease it first!  Knead until smooth and pulls into elastic ribbons (about 8 minutes).  If it tears easily, it's too dry.  Add a teaspoon of water at a time, kneading in between, until desired elasticity is achieved.

Divide out the portion of fondant you need, and coat the remain amount with a thin layer of shortening.  Double-wrap in plastic and keep in a zip top bag with as little air in it as possible.  It can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.  If it becomes to dry, microwave for 5 - 10 seconds.  Be careful, it may be hot after this.

Doesn't it sort of look like a little baby bird waiting to be fed?  Didn't notice it until the picture...

To roll fondant: Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch as you would flour and roll out to desired thinness.

To color fondant: I find it easiest to color it after making it, as there's often several colors you want one batch to be.  Also, over time colors can change/darken so coloring when needed is best.  Add a couple of drops of good gel food coloring to the dough at a time, kneading and assessing the color.  Note: I suggest wearing food-grade gloves while doing this, as good food colors can stain your hands.  If you don't use them, scrubbing hands with exfoliating products should remove dye color with a little patience.

To make light blue green: use a 2-1 ratio of blue to green food color
To make orange: 2-1 ratio of red to yellow food color
To make green: 4-1 ratio of green to brown food color(this makes a more olive green - you can just use green color, too)

To make the cupcakes (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour basic golden vanilla)...

24 medium cupcakes

What you need...
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
4 large eggs

To make it orange blossom-flavored
Add 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon powdered ginger

To make it rosewater-flavored 
Add 1 tablespoons rosewater
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon

(to make half and half, just divide the batter and halve the flavoring)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cupcake tins with paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.

Add buter and beat with hand or stand mixer on low until it resembles sand.

Combine milk and desired flower flavorings.  Beat on low for 30 seconds then on medium for 30 seconds, scraping the sides.

With mixer still on low, add eggs, one at a time.  Scrape bowl again and beat another 30 seconds on medium high.

Transfer batter to cupcake tins - a little more than 1/4 cupfuls each (you want them to have big tops).  To just a little under the cupcake tin rims

Bake for 23 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove and allow to cool before removing from pans.

To decorate your cupcakes you'll need...

Buttercream frosting to coat cupcake tops before fondant, and to secure flowers (I use premade with a little honey beat in for better flavor)
Light blue fondant for tops
White fondant to make orange blossoms
Golden dragees for the orange blossom centers
Edible markers (optional) to add detail to leaves and roses
Various colored fondants for roses

Tips for making blue tops...

Divide your dough into the number of cupcakes you have, and roll those sections into balls to easily make rounds

Coat the tops with a small amount of buttercream to act as glue, and to fill in or balance out the top (add more to one side if it's lopsided)

After adding the rolled fondant top, trim the edges of the round so that it just wraps under the lip of the cupcake top - tuck under and smooth as you go

Cut a conical hole in the center to attach roses - add a small amount of buttercream to the "stem", then fit it into the hole

Secure all leaves and flowers with a tiny amount of buttercream and a toothpick or knife

Tips for making roses...

Start with a small strip and roll a rosebud, then hand form individual petals to attach at the "stem"

Round and smooth the edges as you go

Use a little yellow and red food safe marker to add detail to roses - then blot with damp paper towel to blend

Tips for making the orange blossoms...

Find a picuture of blossoms to work off of, and roll out your white fondant and cut free-hand to size

Alternately, use a mini cookie cutter that is star or starfish-shaped like this one

Attach dragees to centers with a tiny amount of buttercream on a toothpick

Tips for making leaves

Roll out green fondant and find pictures of leaves you'd like to make, or use various cutters

Use green edible marker to make leaf veins - blot with damp paper towel to blend


  1. Mae, these are so beautiful! I love desserts with flowers- rosewater and orange blossom water are my favourites... I wish I would make that marshmallow fondant with gelatin free marshmallows. You are amazing... The baby blue is to die for!

  2. HOw great are these... absolutely charming... bet they taste great too!

  3. They are so good. When did you turn all Peggy Porschen in the kitchen?

    You've done this before. Nobody's roses are that good right off the bat. I think you should quit your job and go cake pro! :)

    Well done Mathea. I am super-impressed. I can't believe you even made fondant.

  4. Sanjana - Hmm, yes, I always forget about the gelatin in marshmallows. We'll have to think of a way around that!

    Lost Past - Thank you, and they are pretty good, actually. I was never fondant fan before, aside from the prettiness aspect.

    Mr. P - I promise you, I have never made a fondant rose in my life before this, HOWEVER, I have made my share of clay roses/play dough roses as a child. :)

  5. Next, I would like you to make glittery ones.

  6. You know what I'd like to do? Make a cake that is a tribute to children's finger painting drawings: glitter, macaroni, hand prints. It is ideal for my skill level, as well. :)

  7. They are so pretty! I admire your patience to make the fondant, color and roll it, etc.!

  8. These are so pretty and whimsical! Wish I had the patience for it.

  9. These are so cute, and great job on the the flowers


  10. Awww... these are exquisite. There's a danger in making something so lovely -- you'll never want to eat it! Have you tried using these beautiful decorations on petit fours?

  11. Beautiful. I have been wanting to make fondant cupcakes for quite some time now...when I finally have the occasion to (ie, when I have an excuse to bring them somewhere so I don't feel the need to eat 24 cupcakes by myself), I will come back to this recipe. thanks for posting it!

  12. I didn't know about marshmallow fondant. I've made it from scratch and don't remember it being difficult. I had gelato flavored with rose water last night near the Plaza Duomo in Ortigia.

  13. Congrats on Top 9 #1 these are amazingly gorgeous Bravo!!!!

  14. Congratulations! These look so pretty.

  15. These looks super awesome! so beautful that I am not sure how to eat it.

  16. These are inspiring! Thanks for the step by step directions :)

    Fondant was always an turn off for me, but marshmallow fondant may just work.

  17. wow, these are beautiful! i'm drooling over the orange blossom water. orange blossoms and jasmine are my two favorite flower smells. i didn't realize you could turn marshmallows into fondant (which usually sounds scary to me). i'll have to remember to use your recipe next time i come across something that needs fondant. thanks! :)

  18. These look really cute, I love the roses! One fun thing that I have found to making homemade fondant taste even better is to use the colored marshmallows (as long as you don't need white fondant) it gives the fondant a good flavor. I totally agree with you on the store bought fondants, they do not taste good, but they are easy!

  19. Hey girl! Remember me? I've missed reading all your fantastic posts! And you've changed your header - love it too.

    These cupcakes are so...pretty!Love the design of it and the colors you used - very fitting with the flower water flavors. Yum! Please send some :)

  20. rock!!!!!
    I can't wait to try.....

  21. I cannot resist cupcakes. And even better now I can do more with orange blossom water.

  22. This is ~so~ cool!! I love the idea of an orange blossom cupcake - I grew up surrounded by the smell of citrus blossoms and am already jotting your ingredients down to my Blogery Shopping List so that I can make these.
    Cute blog, great post! I'll link to you when I write about using your recipe <3

  23. I am so impressed with your food flowers. They are beautiful!

  24. How absolutely gorgeous and perfect is this tutorial! Thanks for sending the link, I just posted on (I coincidentally just had a marshmallow fondant tutorial on my blog too--what with seeking better tasting fondant--but yours is infinitely more lovely!)

  25. Super cute! I love making marshmallow fondant. I have some cute bug cupcakes on my blog. Stop by if you get a chance!


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