Sugar Belle Cupcakes Recipe

The Hale Groves Team

I may have a sweet tooth but I prefer eating sweets that also have nutritional value. If you are like me, then this recipe is the right one for you.

Sugarbell is a cross or hybrid between a flavorful Clementine and sugar-sweet Honeybell. It was developed at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Citrus Research and Education Center. This seedless, deep-colored, bell-shaped orange offers a unique flavor and aroma that comes along with well-balanced citrus tartness and sugar-sweet taste from its parents. What makes this orange even better is its zipper-like skin that is easy to separate from the tasty flesh.

Winning Bell

Citrus trees are prone to a disease called citrus greening or huanglongbing (HLB) that causes produce fruits to be green, bitter, and misshapen making them unsuitable for sale as juice or fresh fruit. What’s worse is that infected trees often die within a few years. This disease devastated millions of acres of citrus crops and even put the citrus industry at risk. The good news is, Sugar Belle seems to be winning the battle against citrus greening, as they are more able to fend off greening compared to other types of citrus. This recipe uses candied Sugar Belle Oranges, which take overnight to make. Once they are ready, the recipe is fast and easy.

How to make Sugarbell Cupcakes

Prep Time: 48 mins

Ready In: 2 hrs 15 mins


CANDIED Sugar Belles


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar Belle zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh Sugar Belle 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 + 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded


  1. Make the candied Sugar Belles. In a large skillet with about 2 inch sides, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the Sugar Belles to the skillet of syrup and cook 12-15 minutes, until soft and cooked through. Make sure the Sugar Belles are covered with syrup as much as possible and flip them at least once during the cooking process. Cool, then pour cooled Sugar Belles and syrup into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight and for up to 1 week.
  3. Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, vanilla bean, and zest together until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Add the eggs and mix until once again light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture and the cream and Sugar Belles juice to the sugar mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. I did 3 installments of flour, 1 of all cream, and one of a little cream and the juice. Mix until just combined.
  5. Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin tin, filling almost all the way to the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out with only a few moist crumbs. If you would like to brush them with the syrup from the Sugar Belles, this would be the time to do it. Cool completely in pan. Cupcakes can be made 1 day ahead of time.
  6. Make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once this happens, stop stirring, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. In the meantime, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until foamy. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to overwhip the egg whites or they will become dry.
  7. Once the eggs are whipped and the syrup is at 240 degrees, turn the eggs to medium-low, immediately remove the syrup from the heat, and begin slowly and steadily drizzling it into the eggs. If the syrup is ready before the eggs, it can be turned down or removed from the heat while the eggs finish, before being replaced on the heat to bring to temperature. If the eggs are ready before the syrup, stop mixing them until the syrup is almost ready. Turn them back to medium-high briefly before turning them back down and adding the syrup.
  8. Once the syrup has all been added, turn the mixer back to medium-high and beat the frosting (what is basically marshmallow crème and is delectable all by itself) for 10-13 minutes until the bottom of the bowl is barely warm or at room temperature. It is important for it to not be too warm or the next step will not work.
  9. Once cooled, add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding another. Scrape down the bowl occasionally. Once all the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla and vanilla bean and mix to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix briefly by hand to make sure there are no clumps of butter. If the frosting is a bit soupy (because it was too warm when the butter was added) stick it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, beat it again with the stand mixer. It should come together.
  10. Assemble the cupcakes. Using an offset spatula, smooth a heaping helping of frosting on the cupcakes. Place a whole, half, or quarter candied Sugar Belles on top of the cupcakes. May be stored at room temperature for 1 day, in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in plastic and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours, keeping them wrapped in the plastic until serving.

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