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A BFA Painting and Drawing graduate gone cookie designer and decorator.  I bring my knowledge of art, composition, and color to pastries to create the perfect cookies and cakes for your events or occasions.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Honey, Lavender, and Lemon Cupcakes

Winter is often a time when meals are heavier and heartier, and the flavors tend to be heavy as well.  This weekend, I wanted to make something light, floral, and a little more complex than traditional cupcake flavor combinations.  I worked at a chocolate shop in Philadelphia for two years, and the entire time I worked there, my favourite truffle was the Honey Lavender one.  A few months ago I was in a spice market in Murray Hill, and I saw a packet of lavender and knew I needed to created a dessert with it.  So this weekend, during a light snow, but very grey morning we had Saturday I decided to brighten up the day with Honey, Lavender, & Lemon Cupcakes with a Cream Cheese Icing (which is also sweetened with honey and flavored with lavender and lemon).  The bases of these cupcakes are light and fluffy due to the use of just egg whites.  This texture along with the brightness from the lemon, the light sweetness from honey, and the floral notes of the lavender makes the cake delicate yet flavorful.  The icing adds a little bit of extra punch of those flavors while still remaining overall a light and bright cupcakes.  These cupcakes will brighten up your cold winter day, and come spring and summer I'm sure they'd be the perfect cupcake for a light dessert on a hot summer day.

Honey, Lavender, and Lemon Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from a combination of Hooray For Weekends and Blissfully Delicious
Made Gluten Free by Jesicakes
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes
- 3/4 cup sorghum flour
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 Tbsp gluten free baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (one stick)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
- 3 Tbsp clove honey
- Zest from 1 1/2 lemons (about 2 Tbsp)*

*Zest both lemon completely and set aside zest from half of one for the frosting

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line cupcake pan with liners.
*Side note: This little zester is my new favourite kitchen gadget ever.  It makes beautiful strands of lemon zest (unlike my old one which just pretty much pulverized it if it could even pierce the flesh of the lemon).  Not to mention it gathers all the zest in the base behind the grater so it's a very neat and easy way to zest as well.
Sift together the sorghum flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
 Create Lavender Sugar by grinding the sugar and the lavender flowers together. (The aroma will be intoxicating.  This step alone will make your kitchen fill with the smell of lavender).
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites and set aside.
Cream together the butter and lavender sugar.  Once they are pretty well mixed, add the honey.  Beat until mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the lemon zest and continue to beat.  Make sure to scrape down the sides every now and then and make sure you zest is being incorporated and not just getting stuck on the paddle.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 the buttermilk/egg white mixture.  Make sure before each addition the previous one gets well incorporated.  Repeat this step, and end with the final addition of the flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides if need be, and then beat on medium/high for 3-5 minutes to aerate the mixture and to make sure everything is completely integrated.
Scoop batter into cupcake liners.  I use approximately two scoops per liner. 
You want them filled about 2/3 of the way up.  I actually wish I had filled these a little more. These were closer to halfway full.  Also, looking back, I think I may have used less baking powder than I was supposed to so yours will probably rise more than mine did!

Bake for around 20 minutes.  I let them bake for 15, then turned them and they still needed an extra 5 minutes.  You know they're done when you insert a toothpick and they come out clean and if you touch the tops they have a little bit of a bounce and resistance to the touch.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.  When they're cool enough to remove from the pans, transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely before you ice them.  While they're cooling, you can make the icing:

Honey, Lavender, and Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from Marth Stewart's traditional Cream Cheese Icing
Makes about 2 cups of icing
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
- 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp dried lavender flowers, crushed
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- A few drops of purple food dye (optional)

I used a mortar and pestle to grind up my lavender but I'm sure you could just crush it with the back of a spoon against the side of a bowl as well.  If the flowers aren't too crushed it's okay too as long as you like little bursts of the lavender flavor (which I love...but can probably be too floral for some people).

 In a mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high until softened.  Gradually add the butter a tablespoon or so at a time.  Mix well.  Begin to gradually add the powdered sugar with the mixer on low allowing each addition to mix in before adding the next.  Add the honey, zest, and lavender.  Scrape down the sides and the blade to make sure everything is incorporating.  Mix in the food dye if desired.  Continue to beat for around 5 minutes to give it some body.
Pipe icing using a pastry bag or ice using a spatula.  I tend to chill my cream cheese icing a little bit beforehand with this recipe.  Since it's not overloaded with sugar and more concerned with flavor, it's not as stiff as most icings, so to get a nice pretty piped look chilled icing is best.

I topped mine with a little fresh lemon zest and lavender for visual appeal and for extra floral lavender bites and bright bites from lemon.
Store cupcakes in a sealed container in the fridge if you're going to keep them for a few days.  You can also freeze the bases and even the icing if you want them for a little while in the future.


  1. great job!

    Did you spend Valentine's Day well?
    Did you recieve some chocolate?
    If wish I could recieve some chocolate from a girl

    1. I worked on Valentine's haha...the "perk" of being in the food business is you work almost every major holiday. And while I do LOVE chocolate (I even worked for a chocolatier for two years!), my boyfriend knows that since I work in a bakeshop AND I bake at home on the weekends I'd probably be mad if I got chocolates...it's tough to stay thin being surrounded by desserts all day! Hope yours was well!

  2. Even if you use the best products for the cupcake, the taste can still be ruined by a nasty frosting. So whatever extras are added to the sweet must be high quality too.

    1. I'm not really sure if this is a compliment or an insult? But my frosting was delicious and this was one of my most complimented cupcakes I ever made. What is it that I used that you don't believe is high quality?