Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line your cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) combine the sugar, eggs, and orange extract until smooth. Add the vegetable oil and mix until smooth again, then add the Orange Crush Soda. Mix the liquid part of the cake batter until well combined.
Add orange food coloring (until you have a nice bright orange color, remembering that the color will dull a bit once baked) and orange jello. Mix until the color is even and your desired brightness.
Add the dry ingredient mixture into your wet ingredients in 2-3 portions, mixing between each dry ingredient portion addition until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Add orange zest and mix into the batter.
Pour batter into the prepared cupcake pan, filling each liner about ¾ full. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Orange Crush Soda Buttercream Frosting
Beat butter (room temperature but not super softened) at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add orange extract, a drizzle of heavy whipping cream, and a portion of the confectioners sugar and mix to combine.
Repeat alternating the liquids (heavy cream or the reduced Orange Crush Soda syrup) with the confectioners sugar until all of the confectioners sugar has been incorporated and you have a pipe-able frosting consistency.
*You may not need all of the liquid, use small amounts of the liquid to keep your frosting smooth enough that your stand mixer or hand mixer can work through the frosting. If your frosting is too dry, it will bunch onto your mixer. If it is too wet, it will not hold onto a spoon well or spread and hold it's shape.
**If you would like a stronger orange flavor, you can use more of the Orange Crush Syrup than the heavy cream. You can also omit the heavy cream completely.
Pipe or spread the frosting onto your cooled cupcakes and top with the jelly orange slice (if desired). We used a Wilton 1M large star piping tip for our frosting swirls.