Gong Hey Fat Choy! Today is Chinese New Year, which officially marks the start of the Year of the Monkey. And while I, myself, am a rabbit, I’m still going to heartily celebrate and hopefully usher in some good fortune for the upcoming lunar year. With that in mind, I baked up some super-simple, semi-homemade orange cream cupcakes, since eating oranges at the beginning of the year is said to bring wealth and luck. According to Chowhound via the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, the tradition of eating oranges and tangerines for the new year, “stems from the way the Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, while the word for tangerine echoes luck.” That’s good enough reason for me. And lest these cupcakes not look festive enough, I topped them off with mini Chinese lanterns crafted from bright red and pink paper and finished with sparkling gold designs and playful tassels.
For the paper lantern cupcake toppers, you’ll need the following:
• varying shades of red and pink cardstock
• gold wire
• gold beads
• metallic gold gel pen
• gold embroidery thread
• gold eye pins
• gold jump rings
1. Print out this template, making sure it stays to scale to make a 3/4″ cube. Trace the template on cardstock and cut out.
2. Using a gold gel pen, draw geometric designs on the outside of the paper.
3. Score along each corner, then add a small amount of glue to the three tabs and fold up the cube, holding each tab closed for about 30 seconds to ensure a good hold.
4. Once the glue dries, poke holes through the top and bottom with a needle, then thread an eye pin through the cube. Add a gold bead on top and close the pin with a loop.
5. Make a small tassel from gold embroidery thread using this method, then attach the tassel to the bottom of the eye pin using a jump ring.
6. Finally, cut a length of gold wire and bend it in the shape of a candy cane, looping the end so you can rest the little paper lantern on it. Stick it in an orange cream cupcake to celebrate the lunar new year in style!
Orange Cream Cupcakes
• Betty Crocker SuperMoist Yellow Cake Mix
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup orange juice (instead of water)
• 2 tsp orange zest
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 to 3 tsp of milk
• orange zest for garnish
1. Follow the directions on the cake box, substituting orange juice for water and adding 2 teaspoons of orange zest to the batter. Bake cupcakes and let cool.
2. To make the frosting, cream the butter in a medium bowl then beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add milk bit by bit until you’ve achieved the right consistency.
3. Frost cupcakes and top with orange zest and a Chinese lantern topper!