These Cranberry Champagne Cupcakes are a classy and festive cupcake, fit for any holiday celebration. Each cupcake has a touch of champagne, is filled with a sweet cranberry sauce, and is topped with cranberry cream cheese frosting.
Everyone has a “happy place.” At least I sincerely hope they do. And I don’t think it’s any big secret where mine is. But in case I don’t make it obvious enough… It’s the kitchen! I can and do spend HOURS in my kitchen in my free time. Some Sundays, I legit spend 10 hours cooking and baking and basically running around the kitchen before I collapse on the couch for dinner and to recharge before starting my 50+ hour workweek at my office job. Even though much of what I’m doing in the kitchen is for “work” on my blog, I also consider it a ton of fun and the kind of work I’m truly passionate about. There’s no place I’d rather be! And this is especially true during the holiday season.
I've long said that I think cranberries are one of the most underrated of the holiday ingredients and that more people need to give cranberry sauce a chance. It doesn't have to be the gelatinous stuff that comes from a can (though I am fully willing to admit I love that stuff!) and it doesn't have to be a ridiculously tart side dish (though I actually love that, too!). It can be deliciously sweet and citrusy, with just a little touch of tart. It can also be used in desserts. And if you're a cranberry sauce skeptic, I recommend trying it in a dessert instead of in a dish. And what better dessert to enjoy it in than a cupcake? These cranberry champagne cupcakes combine so many of my favorite things into one super festive holiday dessert.
CRANBERRY CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES RECIPE
Doesn't champagne just scream "celebration" to you? When I was thinking up this recipe, I immediately loved the thought of a light bubbly champagne paired with a sweet and tart cranberry sauce. Obviously all combined into a cupcake. To start, I did a little research on the best variety and brand of champagne to use in baking. Spoiler alert, I used a super cheap champagne. I also made a super simple cranberry sauce filling for the cupcakes and opted to frost them in a cranberry vanilla cream cheese frosting. The perfect touch!
CRANBERRY SAUCE FILLING
When baking these cranberry champagne cupcakes, I recommend starting with the cranberry sauce filling. It does need a little time to chill in the fridge, so start here and then make the cupcakes and frosting while it's chilling. This is a super simple and easy cranberry sauce. You can taste it, but try not to go too crazy because it's meant to be the filling in the cupcakes (I had a seriously hard time not eating the whole bowl before the cupcakes were done).
While the cranberry sauce filling is chilling, you can make the champagne cupcakes. Again, a super simple recipe with really only one difference from the typical cupcake recipe (aside from the champagne, duh): it calls for egg whites in the batter. As you're making the cupcake batter, you'll want to beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.
Then you'll fold the egg whites into the batter. Don't worry if the batter looks a little lumpy and odd; it probably will. But adding whipped egg whites into cupcake batter makes for the lightest and fluffiest cupcakes around! OK fine, the champagne helps, too.
CRANBERRY VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Lastly, you'll want to whip up an easy cranberry vanilla cream cheese frosting. I'm not always the biggest cream cheese frosting fan, but I loved the idea of it along with cranberry sauce. I went heavy on the vanilla flavor and also added in a little bit of the cranberry sauce we made earlier to give it some cranberry flavor and a nice light pink color.
In my opinion, the only thing better than a cupcake is a cupcake that's filled with something delicious... Like cranberry sauce! I’ve been using this cupcake corer (affiliate link) for years and can’t recommend it enough. But you can also use a knife to cut a little well in the middle of the cupcake. Once the cupcakes are cored, fill them with some of that delicious cooled cranberry sauce!
Almost done! For a little decoration, I recommend making some sugared cranberries to top the cupcakes with. I like this recipe a lot and always make sugared cranberries at least three times per holiday season. If you have simple syrup prepared already (I always have simple syrup in my fridge!), you can also coat the berries in there, let dry, and then coat in sugar. If you don't feel like making sugared cranberries, you can top with simple fresh cranberries or the decoration of your choice.
Frost the cupcakes and top with decoration.
Can I just say I’m getting really sad that the holidays are almost over and I’ll have to stop creating festive recipes and utilizing cranberries in everything I do? Would it be bad if I got a jump start on my holiday recipes for 2015? Because I’m seriously contemplating it. Luckily champagne is always in season, so while cranberry champagne cupcakes may not be socially acceptable in June, simple champagne cupcakes are always appreciated.
These cupcakes are just one more item in my ridiculously long list of holiday recipes that are making me happy this year.
Those sugared cranberries on top are still super tart, but I could still eat a million of them. Like I mentioned, I’m not the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, but I can't think of another type of frosting that would go better with the sweet and tart flavor combinations of the cupcakes. Everything just worked so well together!
Oh, and obviously there’s a surprise in the cupcake. I was already pretty thrilled with how moist the cake turned out to be, but the cranberry filling made it even more so! Seriously heaven.
These cupcakes definitely involved quite a few steps, but since I was in my happy place, I enjoyed every minute of it. Especially the final step, which is the eating of the cranberry champagne cupcakes when everything was done!
Is the kitchen your happy place, too?
Cranberry Champagne Cupcakes
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 ¼ cups champagne
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 7 large egg whites
- ½ cup fresh cranberries
- 2 cups Cranberry Sauce Filling (recipe below)
- 1 batch Vanilla Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
Cranberry Sauce Filling
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
Vanilla Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp Cranberry Sauce Filling (recipe above)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and 1 ½ cups sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Slowly beat flour mixture into butter/sugar, alternating with the champagne. Take care not to over-mix batter.
- In a separate large bowl, using a hand mixer (or a whisk and arm strength), beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter, again taking care not to over-mix. Batter will likely look lumpy.
- Fill prepared cupcake tins about ¾ of the way full and bake for about 17-19 minutes, until cupcakes are just starting to turn golden around edges. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, core the center of each cupcake (either with a knife or a cupcake corer) and spoon in about a tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Make sure to reserve a couple tablespoons of cranberry sauce for the frosting.
- Frost cupcakes with Vanilla Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting and top with sugared cranberries or decorations of your choice.
Cranberry Sauce Filling
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine orange juice, water, and sugar. Once it begins to boil, add cranberries and let mixture come back to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower heat to let berries simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you notice the cranberries are beginning to burst.
- Remove sauce to a separate bowl and put in the fridge to chill.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and salt. Then add cream cheese and continue to beat until very well combined.
- Beat in confectioners' sugar one cup at a time. Beat in vanilla and cranberry sauce.
- I recommend making cranberry sauce in advance as it will need at least 2 hours to chill in fridge.
- If you're looking for a good tutorial for making sugared cranberries, I recommend this one.