For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
For the glaze:
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- Food coloring (optional)
- 4 tablespoons orange juice
- Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly butter 48 mini-muffin cups. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions milk and beating well after each addition.
- Transfer batter by heaping tablespoonfuls to cups. Bake until golden brown at edges and a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 15 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cakes cool in pans, 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Make glaze: In a bowl, whisk together juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth; add 1 to 2 drops food coloring if desired. Spoon over cooled cakes.
To make cheerful tinted cakes in several hues, divide the glaze into small bowls and stir 1 to 2 drops food coloring into each.