If, on the off chance, you still have some cranberry sauce hanging around from Thanksgiving, you're a)a slacker, and b)much like me.
I've mentioned before that I find expiration dates to be mere suggestions, and that goes for weeks-old cranberry sauce as well. In looking for an inventive way to use the stuff, my thoughts immediately turned to cupcakes, as that's obviously my obsession right now. My first question to myself was what flavor cupcake base to use, and having always enjoyed the cranberry-orange combination, I decided that was the way to go. Then, I fondly recalled my maple buttercream and chose to use that as the finishing touch.
These were what I would call outrageously good. I added pecans to the cupcake batter for a little contrast in textures and it was a nice component. The sauce was superbly tart against the oh-so-sweet frosting, and the orange in the cupcakes was subtle but appreciated.
If, like most normal people, you took care of your cranberry sauce leftovers long ago, I think it's worth it to make it all over again just for these cupcakes.
Leftover Cranberry-Orange Cupcakes
(based on these)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped
about 1 cup of leftover cranberry sauce
maple buttercream frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Cream butter, sugar, and orange zest until pale and fluffy. With mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl.
Combine cream, orange juice, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with cream mixture, ending with flour; beat until just combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted in the centers come out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Undecorated cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 1 day (or frozen for up to 2 months).
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (don't you dare let it go to waste!) and carefully spoon the sauce inside. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes and, after giving the components a few minutes to get to know each other, devour.