My cupcakes have been noticed. In the real world -- somewhere other than my blog. This week brought another board meeting, and with board meetings come cupcakes (or whatever treat I feel inspired to whip up the night before). My homemade edibles are always well received at the meetings, but this meeting was extra special for me. One gentleman, a director emeritus of the board of local orchestra (with a self-described sweet tooth, I might add), was the first to grab a cupcake. After he polished it off, to my utter delight he said the following: "Dana, how would you like to make cupcakes for us to auction off at our gala this summer?" Oh, glory be. Cupcakes are fantastic on their own, but cupcakes that benefit the arts -- is there anything better? Not in my world, so of course, with obvious glee, I said yes. He and I have since worked out the basic details. The orchestra's live auction will feature a Dulcedo package deal: one dozen of my cupcakes each month for a year, with a starting bid of $500. Not bad, huh? I can't wait to see what they actually go for.
These cupcakes are amazing -- auction worthy, even. I'll have to disclose that I don't normally like lavender in my food (it usually makes me feel like I'm nibbling on a bouquet of flowers), but it has magical powers in these cupcakes. I followed Cheryl's recipe exactly because, as she notes, there isn't a single thing in need of change. I will tell you, however, that these cupcakes do NOT work in those cute little white paper cups in which I normally bake my cupcakes. The cupcakes double in size in the oven and then shrink when you take them out, so you really need to use cupcake papers. (The papers will contract with the cupcake; the cups will not.) Also, you will have leftover lavender cream, so plan another use for it in advance. (It would be lovely with fresh berries....)
Lavender Cream-Filled Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting
A recipe by Cheryl at the Cupcake Bakeshop
Yields 24 cupcakes
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lavender flowers (available at Whole Foods)
Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon mixed citrus zest (from lemons, limes, oranges, etc.)
2 teaspoons citrus juice
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter/sugar in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, beating well after each addition. Set mixture aside.
In a clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter until incorporated. Scoop the batter into cupcake papers, filling each half full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before filling or frosting as desired.
[If you want to know how I fill the cupcakes, you'll find instructions here.]
To make the lavender cream:
Add sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium high heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Stir in the lavender and let the mixture sit over the heat for 3 minutes undisturbed. Remove from heat and strain the mixture into a small bowl (and discard lavender flowers). Set that bowl in a second larger bowl of ice to cool.
Meanwhile add heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whip attachment until soft peaks form. Once the sugar mixture is relatively cool to the touch (it can be slightly warm) drizzle into the cream while beating on medium high. Continue to beat on high until firm peaks form.
To make the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until creamy and smooth. Add about half of the confectioner’s sugar and citrus juice and zest and beat on high speed until combined. Add the remaining zest and then the confectioner’s sugar in stages until desired consistency and sweetness is achieved.