Honeybell Cupcakes Recipe

Pittman & Davis

Honeybell Orange is not actually an orange. It is a hybrid of the sweet Dancy tangerine and the tart Duncan grapefruit which technically makes it a Tangor or Tangelo. Its origin is a little bit obscure and when or where it first appeared is hard to nail down. However, we do know that according to state records, this cultivar was first identified at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Horticulture Research Station in Orlando, Florida, and released for commercial agriculture in 1931.

Honeybells are sweet-tangy oranges with fiery orange peel and distinct bell shape. They are almost as big as grapefruits and have more juice than flesh making them great for juicing and fresh eating. These oranges are hard to find and are only available in January in selected areas. If you want to get your hands on these prized oranges then you should pre-order them online.  It is quite unlikely that you will be able to find them easily in a grocery store stall.

If you are one of the lucky few who got your hands on the prized Honeybell fruits, you will likely eat most of them fresh out of hand. If you still have a few more Honeybells and are ready for an amazing treat, you may want to try making Honeybells Cupcakes. The very name sounds like a gourmet treat that you and your family will surely fall in love with. Remember that it takes one week for the Honeybell orange pieces to candy, but the end result will be well worth the wait.

How to make Honeybell Cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 week to candy the fruit. 1 hour to prepare

Cook Time: 45 mins

Serves: 12


Candied Honeybells


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon Honeybell zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh Honeybell juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 large egg whites
  • ½ + ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded


  1. First step is to candy the Honeybells. Mix the sugar and water in a large skillet with sides at least 2 inches high. Boil then reduce to a simmer while stirring frequently until sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Put Honeybells into the skillet of syrup and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft and thoroughly cooked. Make sure that the Honeybells are submerged in syrup and flip at least once while cooking. Cool then pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for one week.
  3. Once the Honeybell oranges have candied, the next step is to make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Use a muffin tin lined with paper liner. Using a large bowl, mix and cream butter, vanilla bean, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs and mix until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. Use a medium bowl to mix together salt, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Combine flour and cream mixture and Honeybell juice to the sugar mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until combined.
  5. Use a regular-sized ice cream scoop and scoop batter into lined muffin tin, filling almost all the way to the rim. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway if needed, or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Brush with Honeybells syrup then cool in pan.
  6. Now we make the frosting. Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar has completely dissolved, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the pan and allow the mixture to reach 240ºF. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites using a stand mixer with medium-high setting until foamy. Afterwards, add the cream of tartar and beat once again using medium-high setting until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat the egg whites or they will become dry.
  7. Once the syrup has reached 240ºF and the eggs have been whipped, turn setting to medium-low, remove syrup from heat and slowly but steadily drizzle syrup into eggs.
  8. Once syrup has been added, set the mixer to medium-high setting again and beat the frosting for 10-13 minutes until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature. Do not wait for the bottom of bowl to be too warm or next step will not work.
  9. Once cooled, add butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to combine before adding more. Occasionally scrape down the bowl. Once all butter has been mixed, add vanilla and vanilla bean then mix to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer the mix by hand ensuring there are no remaining clumps of butter. If frosting turns out a bit soupy put it in the fridge for 10-15 mins then beat again using a stand mixer.
  10. Frost each cupcake with a heaping helping of frosting using an offset spatula. Put candied Honeybell pieces on top of each frosted cupcake. You may gently tap the oranges into the icing a bit with the back of a spoon. Store at room temperature for a day or in a refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze the cupcakes for up to 3 months; wrap in plastic and foil then place in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours while wrapped in plastic then serve.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Recipe Next Recipe