I'll be honest--the idea of eating flowers is a bit weird to me. Now, I don't mean broccoli or cauliflower or capers. I'm talking about those heavy-smelling, colorful, meaningful-gesture-type flowers.
I've never eaten squash blossoms or anything rose-flavored. Jasmine isn't my cup of tea and I've never even seen daisies that were meant to be consumed. Everything changed when I received some lavender buds with which to play and promptly decided to combine them with lemon for a particularly refreshing and floral batch of spring-appropriate cupcakes.
How did they turn out? The cupcakes are fluffy and bright with citrus, and the curd provides a powerful note of lemon that's necessary to compete with the lavender in the frosting--it's potent stuff! All in all, there's a nice balance between the two dominating flavors, and the light frosting was the right choice to pair with the curd-laden cupcakes.
Go on--embrace spring while it's still around and before the whole heat of summer barges in!
Lovely Lemon Lavender Cupcakes
(based on these by Martha)
(makes 12 cupcakes)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 3 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, cold
1 teaspoon freshly-grated lemon zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
First, make the lemon curd:
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, cream, and butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture just reaches a boil. Strain the curd into a bowl and stir in the zest. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
To make the cupcakes, first preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl every few minutes. Add citrus zests. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla. Add eggs, three at a time, beating until until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in four batches, beating until completely incorporated after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full; tap pans on countertop once to distribute batter. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by whipping the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the lavender buds. Alternatively, you can heat the cream, add the lavender buds, chill the mixture for a few hours, strain out the buds, then whip the lavender-infused cream. Either way works wonderfully, it just depends on whether or not you mind the presence of the lavender buds.
Carve out a cone-shaped bit from the top of each cupcake. Squirt or spoon in some of your lemon curd. Top the curd-loaded cupcakes with the frosting and eat!