I first started cooking with lavender when I made a lavender and white chocolate cake as per request for my Mom’s birthday two years ago. Once you learn how to infuse lavender into liquid ingredients, you can add it to just about any recipe. You can usually find it at health food or gourmet shops, and it is relatively inexpensive. It is a complex flavour, and adds sophistication to the most basic ingredients. These bite sized treats are delicately scented with lavender and topped with smooth honey cream cheese frosting. I made 48 tea cakes (mini cupcakes), but you can make full-sized cupcakes if you prefer. The miniature versions would be the perfect addition to an afternoon tea party. You’ll need:
- 1/2 cup cooking lavender
- 1 box Duncan Hines moist white cake mix (you can use any mix that adds egg white, water, and oil)
- 3 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
- concentrated purple gel food colouring (optional)
- cupcake liners (optional)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 8 oz. softened cream cheese
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 3-4 cups icing sugar
This recipe is based on a cake mix that calls for 1 1/3 cups of water. If the recipe on your box calls for a different quantity, use that amount to measure your milk. I added a bit extra to compensate for the milk that you lose when the lavender absorbs some. If your mix calls for whole eggs or different quantities of oil, follow those directions instead.
In a small saucepan, pour your milk, and 1/4 cup of lavender. Cover and heat on low until milk is scalding (not quite a boil). Let cool, and strain out the lavender flowers. You should be left with about 1 1/3 cups of lavender infused milk, which you will need for your cake mix. Discard the used lavender.
In a large bowl, pour your cake mix, and add the extra ingredients according to the package. You will be substituting your lavender milk for the water in the box recipe. Beat together the mix, milk, eggs and oil on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Add your vanilla, and food colouring if you wish. I added colour to overpower the slightly grey cast that the lavender leaves behind.
If you have a mini muffin pan, place your liners inside. Otherwise, place your liners on a flat baking sheet. Fill them about 2/3 full with batter, and bake according to the directions on your mix. Your baking time will probably be less than indicated for standard cupcakes, so keep an eye on them if you are making minis.
While your tea cakes are cooling, you can make your frosting. Cream together butter, cream cheese, and honey in a large bowl on medium-low speed. Add the icing sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down your bowl as you go. Continue adding until you reach a thick but workable consistency.
To frost your tea cakes, you can either spread or pipe on your icing. I filled a piping bag, and used a round tip to cover my cakes with a generous dollop of frosting. They will look cute either way; the honey gives the icing a nice shiny look. Now sprinkle your cakes with a few lavender flowers to finish them off. If you are making these in advance, keep them refrigerated until about an hour before serving.
As I said earlier, these little mini cupcakes would be adorable at a fancy tea party or lunch. Enjoy them with friends who share your adventurous appetite for new flavour combinations!