Sunset Cupcakes

These beautiful Sunset Cupcakes are not only pretty to look at much like a sunset, they are tasty too.  With a layer of lemon cake and a layer of orange cake topped with a creamy cream cheese frosting.  They remind me of the sunsets we saw while we were in Hawaii.

I’m also sharing with you how I got my two tone frosting.  In the past I have tried to load one color of frosting to one side of my piping bag and another on top.  It’s not easy but doable.   The technique I’m sharing with you makes this task a lot easier and fool proof unlike the way I used to do it in the past.

My good friend Christen had a birthday recently so I made her some extra special cupcakes. They were inspired by a name given to her by her sister Stephanie (during a Skype call, involving glasses of wine, I'm told) - vanilla sunset- because Christen is the only blonde sister in the family. I thought that was just the cutest thing, and when I heard those words I immediately thought - vanilla sunset needs to be a cake!

These were so much fun to make. The cake portion is flavored with pineapple juice, and in addition to that, the colorful layers are flavored with pineapple, orange and coconut extracts. See that little pipette sticking out from the side? That's where the magic happens. It's filled with a mixture of coconut rum and grenadine. Just give it a squeeze before you take a bite - yum! Such an easy way to spike a cupcake, and it adds some interactive novelty for parties and special occasions.

Fill the small bags.  CAUTION:  I filled my bags too much so they wouldn’t fit into my large bag.  I had to take some out.  So be mindful when filling your small bags that they BOTH have to fit into the larger bag.  Use a twist tie to keep the bags closed tight.

Fit your large bag with the tip you wish to use.  NOTE:  It must also have a large opening so it can fit two piping bag tips.  Cut the end off of the small bags.  Put the large tip into the large bag.  Insert the two smaller bag tips into the piping tip.

Frost cupcakes as you normally would and PRESTO you have two tone frosted cupcakes!

Let's talk about these cupcake toppers for a minute. Too stinkin' cute, right? I found them in this Etsy seller's shop.  I had to have them for these cupcakes, because once when I was having a very bad day, Christen told me my cardigan was everything. Sometimes that's all it takes to turn things around - a little bit of kindness - your friend telling you that your cardigan is everything.


  •  1 pound red beets (3 medium), scrubbed
  •  2 cups sifted cake flour
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  •  1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  •  3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  •  2/3 cup canola oil
  •  3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  •  1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  2 cups powdered sugar
  •  1/2 teaspoon pure orange oil*, such as Boyajian brand, or zest of 1 large orange
  •  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make It

  1. Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap each beet in foil, put on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender when pierced, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Let cool. Peel, cut into chunks, and purée in a food processor. Measure 1 1/4 cups purée.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin pan (1/2-cup size) with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together beet purée, granulated sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. With a plastic spatula, stir in flour mixture one-third at a time just until smooth.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each almost to the top of the liner. Bake until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out with a couple of moist crumbs clinging, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
  5. Make buttercream: Beat butter with a mixer on high speed until very smooth. Add powdered sugar, orange oil, and vanilla; beat on low speed to blend, then on medium until fluffy and smooth.
  6. Spread a thick layer of buttercream on cupcakes, swirling it decoratively. Or pipe frosting from a pastry bag, using a star tip.
  7. Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled.
  8. *Find pure orange oil, an essential oil pressed from orange rind (and different from orange extract), at surlatable.com

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