Hollywood Holidays: Sprinkles Founder Bakes These Fruity Cupcakes for Thanksgiving

Orange Cranberry Cupcakes - Publicity - P 2016
Amy Neunsinger

It's as worthy as any homemade pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and if you've been having a hard time trying to figure out what you're planning to bring to Friendsgiving or to cook for your family's upcoming feast, fret not. We've asked fashion and beauty insiders to share their favorite recipes in celebration of the upcoming holiday. Here, Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson shares the orange-cranberry cupcakes recipe featured in her recently released cookbook, The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes From Candace's Kitchen (Grand Central Life & Style).

"Cranberries are one of my favorite Thanksgiving feast traditions, served alongside turkey and all the savory sides. They are such a fleeting seasonal favorite that I wanted to celebrate them in another dish, this time sweet!" says Nelson, who celebrated her new tome with Reese Witherspoon, Sara Foster and Rachel Zoe at her Beverly Hills home last month.

"These orange-cranberry cupcakes are just the thing," she says. "The sweet and fragrant orange cake complements the tart berries, and that creamy frosting on top is the crowning glory."

Sounds like the perfect way to get four daily servings of fruit this holiday season.

Makes 12 cupcakes or one 2-layer, 9-inch cake


1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

2/3 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons lightly packed, finely grated orange zest (from 2 large oranges)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries

Orange Frosting


1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and orange zest over low heat until hot (but not boiling); cool to lukewarm, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, add the egg and egg whites one at a time and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended after each addition. In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the cranberries into the batter.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the liners and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch (some may be slightly golden on the sides before this happens) and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 17 to 19 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting with Orange Frosting.

Orange Frosting

Makes 2 cups

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon whole milk

1 tablespoon lightly packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, add the milk, orange zest and juice and vanilla and beat until fully blended, 1 to 2 minutes, making sure not to incorporate too much air into the frosting.

To bake as a cake:

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit and butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides of each pan, then tap out the excess flour. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake until the tops are dry to the touch, the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (for generally the same amount of time as in the cupcake recipe). Let cool on a wire rack, then remove each cake from its pan, discard the parchment paper and set one cake layer on a cake round, frosting turntable or the final serving platter. Frost the top of that cake layer with the frosting, stack the second layer on top and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.