Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Baking Part 2: Vanilla Bean Lavender Cupcakes

To accompany my Cadbury egg cupcakes, I baked up these white velvet vanilla bean cupcakes topped with lavender cream and a homemade chocolate covered marshmallow bunny!

White velvet vanilla bean lavender cupcake

They were 4 days in the making! Thursday I made the marshmallows. Friday I coated them in chocolate. Saturday I baked the cupcakes, and on Sunday I finished the lavender cream and assembled for Easter dessert! Not that you have to take 4 days to make them, but the lavender needs to steep for 24 hours and the marshmallows have to set out over night, so it's a process!

In case you're wondering what lavender cream tastes tastes pretty much just like it smells (in my opinion, anyway). Which is good news if you like the scent of lavender! The taste is very mild and you can smell the lavender in the cream, but it is something different! My family are always willing taste testers in my baking adventures, and I'll certainly make the cupcake again! But if I were to make these for a crowd, I'd probably also offer a regular or vanilla whipped cream cupcake as an option as well. A little something for everyone!

For now I'll just link to the marshmallow recipe here. I have more marshmallow creations to share that I'll wrap up in another post! Until then, on to the cupcakes! Please be sure to read the full recipe first, since the lavender cream has to be prepared a day ahead! Also please note the whipped lavender cream is pretty delicate and will start to melt if out of the fridge for too long. Keep your travel and serving plans in mind. ;o)

Vanilla Bean Lavender Cupcakes

Yields about 24 regular sized cupcakes

For white velvet vanilla bean cupcakes
Adapted from Java Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup milk (divided)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large egg whites
3 cups sifted cake flour (if you can't find cake flour, substitute 2 1/4 all purpose flour plus 6 tablespoons cornstarch sifted together, but try to find the cake flour! It comes in a box!)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line cupcake pans with liners.
  2. Put 1 cup of the milk in a small sauce pan and set on medium heat.
  3. Slice the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out as many seeds as you can and add to the cream. Then, add the whole vanilla bean pod to the cream.
  4. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract to the sauce pan
  5. Continue to cook until the milk starts to steam and bubbles begin to form around the outer edge of the milk, whisking occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat immediately and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the sauce pan and discard.
  8. In a large bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder and salt whisk together.
  9. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the eggs and mix on high just until they start to whip up like frosting.
  11. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture on low and continue mixing to combine. Add half the vanilla cream, then another 1/3 flour mixture, then the second half of the cream, and finally the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix.
  12. Add the last 1/4 cup of milk and mix just until combined.
  13. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full.
  14. Bake 15-18 minutes.
  15. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire wrack to cool completely. They should be 100% cool before you try to top them with the lavender cream!
For the lavender cream

2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
5 tablespoons dried lavender
2 tablespoons sugar
Purple/blue food coloring (optional)
  1. Pour the cream into a bowl or measuring cup and whisk in the dried lavender.
  2. Leave it to steep for at least 24 hours in the fridge
  3. When ready, strain the lavender out of the cream and add the cream to a metal bowl (it will whip up better if it stays cold)
  4. Whisk in the food coloring if desired - if you choose not to use food coloring, the cream won't be pure white, but it won't really be lavender either :o)
  5. Using the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, start to whip the cream on high.
  6. It will start to form bubbles, then start to look foamy, then become smoother and start to increase in size.
  7. One it has passed the foamy stage, keep whipping on high and slowly add the sugar
  8. Keep whipping until stiff peaks are just about formed then STOP! You don't want to over whip the cream since it will start to turn to butter, that would be sad.
  9. Top the cupcakes with a dollop of cream and serve immediately, or pop em in the fridge til ready! (I also considered keeping the cream in the metal bowl and bringing it with me to assemble there, but it was just too many things to pack up!)
Happy lavendering!

White velvet vanilla bean lavender cupcake

Easter cupcakes

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