Friday, June 3, 2011

Ugli Cupcakes

It all started when my friend and I were grocery shopping. While she was complaining about how tiny the lemons were, I was strangely drawn to whatever was next to them. It was one of those weird fruits, you know, one of those ones either from Asia or South America that you see in the produce section every time, can't figure out the name of, and look really gross. You pass by them every week or so and think "that probably tastes better than it looks, but I'm not going to be the one to try it." I know you know what I'm talking about, there's about a dozen different ones in every grocery store.

I did something crazy today. I bought one.

They looked like brownish greenish yellow citrus of some kind, about the size of a grapefruit. They were lumpy, and squishy enough that we were concerned that they had all rotted. This brought up the concern of how to tell which one to pick. We went for one without too much brown, and a little green, as it would probably be better to get an under-ripe one rather than a too-ripe one.

After some googling, I found out that it was an ugli fruit, the ugly cousin of the tangelo. They tasted kind of like a watery clementine, but smelled like citrus heaven, and I knew they would be a perfect, light flavoring for something tasty. My first reaction was that I had to make cupcakes with these. I took a couple of different grapefruit cupcake recipes, mixed them and messed with them, and eventually came up with something pretty darn good!

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate zesting lemons? Turns out zesting ugli fruit is a LOT worse. It's like zesting a rotten tomato, but less smelly. Actually, it smells amazing, I already said that. Anyway, I eventually figured out that if you wait until after juicing the fruit and pulling all the pulp out, you can lay the peels flat on the counter and it makes the zesting a ton easier.

I improvised and came up with some tasty cupcakes, and they really did scream out for a nice, light, cream cheese frosting. Less of a frosting even, more of a cream cheese glaze. I'm not sure if that's possible, but I love the idea of a glaze, not the strong powdered sugar taste of one. Whatever ended up on top of these, it was good!

These guys ended up even better than I expected! They were light and very spring-y, almost like lemon cupcakes but with a more complex flavor. These cupcakes would probably work just fine with another kind of citrus if you're not feeling so adventurous, lemon, or orange, or grapefruit...but ugli fruit is so good, why WOULDN'T you want to use one?!

I'm thinking this baking with random produce I find and don't know anything about might become a more regular thing! Either way, you should go buy an ugli fruit, they're cheap (mine was only a dollar) and tasty, and you'll be glad you did!

Ugli Cupcakes

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup oil
3 tbs water
3 eggs, separated
¼ cup plus 1 tsp fresh ugli fruit juice
2 tsp ugli fruit zest

4 tbs butter
4 tbs cream cheese
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 tbs ugli fruit juice

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center, put oil, water, egg yolks, ¼ cup ugli fruit juice, and zest in well. Whisk liquids to mix, then whisk with flour mixture just until blended and smooth.
Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with mixer on high speed until frothy. Add remaining 1 tsp ugli fruit juice, beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the batter.
Spoon into a lined cupcake pan and bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes, makes about 16 cupcakes.

For the frosting, mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Add more powdered sugar or juice if needed to reach a proper consistency.


  1. These look DELICIOUS! Where did you buy your ugli fruit - do you think Trader Joe's would have it?

  2. They had them at shoppers with the rest of the citrus!