Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lavender Cupcake with Wildberry Swiss Buttercream Frosting

If you are looking for a controversial cupcake, then this is the recipe for you.

Reactions ranged from nearly spitting it out because it "tasted like eating flowers" to saying "it was the best cupcake I've ever eaten"

So if you are looking for a culinary roller coaster, look no further.

My personal critique: I thought the cake was too dense, and the frosting didn't have as strong of flavor or color as I would have liked, but for being subtle flavors, it worked well together.

(Update: I forgot to put this in the original post. This cupcake was inspired by a recent trip to Columbus and a stop at one of my new favorite places, Jeni's. It is an ice cream shop that makes the most wonderful flavors, like lavender wildberry and pear riesling, from local ingredients. It is fabulous. There will probably be a few more posts in the coming months inspired by Jeni's flavor combinations!)
A note on the ingredients: I bought the dried lavender flowers, mixed berry herbal tea, and 3 berry flavored sugars at a local tea and spice shop here in Cincinnati. Please note, this recipe calls for less than 1 teaspoon of lavender. No need to buy a full ounce like me, unless you have other plans to make lots of lavender-y goodies later.

Lavender Cupcakes (Modified from Joy of Baking) - I doubled the recipe
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of dried lavender (crushed or ground up in coffee grinder)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the lavender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 -20 minutes or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. (Always check a few minutes before the stated baking time.
Makes about 12 cupcakes

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Modified from Annie's Eats)
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ounce of herbal berry tea (ground to a fine powder) - I would recommend trying to replace this with a wildberry flavored concentrate if you can find it.
To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. (This took a lot longer than I was expecting. My arm got tired...)
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!) Stir in the vanilla extract and the other flavoring you found and mix just until incorporated. Tint with gel icing color as desired.
Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
I sprinkled some of the cupcakes with leftover lavender flowers and some with a mix of strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry flavored sugars.
Yield: about 5 cups- it was enough for 24 cupcakes with the 1M tip with some leftover

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