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Cupcake batter, delicately infused with the heavenly sweet-floral aroma of lavender flowers, is baked and crowned with a lavender glaze, a honeyed cream cheese frosting, or a little of both!
When somebody says ‘lavender cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting,’ my mind takes me back to my visits to France. In particular, a venue called Bertie’s Cupcakery in the heart of Paris on the Île de la Cité by Notre Dame, and a baker who knew how to bake with flowers and floral extracts.
Edible flowers have been used in culinary delicacies around the world for thousands of years. The florals and floral nuances both in the batter and in the glaze and icing somehow communicate indicators to the brain signaling the need for LESS sugar.
Apart from putting a pretty colored icing on cakes, cookies, and cupcakes to add to their beauty, you can also use edible flowers and natural extracts to make them look dramatically appealing. Flowers add rich colors, subtle to spicy flavors, have diverse uses, and will add a bit of magic to warm weather entertaining.
I am entirely inspired! If I have not yet mentioned my good fortune by way of this handy dandy raised planter, let me briefly explain. As an influencer, I am often times asked to test out products. In my wildest dreams, never did I think that based on my post The Argument For Herbs, would I be the recipient of this most fantastic surprise. Equally as fortunate, was me getting lucky at my local nursery by way of herbs and edible flowers. They had everything I use to cook and bake with. Hence, a lavender story…
I’ve been trying to step up my baking game a bit. Seriously. I thought about some of the best bakes I’ve ever tasted, where I was when I had occasion to sample them, and I asked myself if I thought I could replicate them. I began with an Earl Grey Tea Cake which boasted a lovely honeyed cream cheese frosting. SCORE. Subtle nuances of the tea, a mild sweet crumb, and the lightest cream cheese frosting enhanced with raw local clover honey. Yes, that recipe is coming to Not Entirely Average VERY SOON!
I next fooled with two flavors I fell in love with while visiting Europe. Violet and lavender. Both notes are heavenly on the palette. They were both also surprisingly lite – ethereal almost. Just enough of the real thing to make you know it’s in there and bring a smile to your face. When shopping for herbs at the nursery, I was sure to grab two variations of lavender. I promised myself that if I managed to cultivate them in my test planter, I would spin a recipe somehow incorporating the flowers.
Well, the planter contents have taken off. So much so, that I am already eleven recipes into cooking and baking with herbs from the planter to bring to all of you. And the lavender I promised myself I would integrate has become a cupcake. A fresh, delicious bevy of baby lavender cakes. My plants have yet to yield enough flower heads to be used for baking and cooking, so I was forced to purchase food grade lavender flowers from France reasonably priced enough to achieve that sweet-floral aroma I was looking for. The result is a killer lavender cupcakes recipe for sure…
I took bits and pieces of flavors and olfactory nuances that I like from other recipes. The cream cheese frosting, a repeat but a given, but was waaaaay too tangy left unflavored for the less complex cupcake crumb. Lavender cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting or even a lavender frosting were more in line with the signature taste I was looking for. Honey won.
I also considered adding loose tea to the batter for Earl Grey lavender cupcakes. Again, that delicateness was lost. Good tasting, but more powerful than I wanted. As a result, this lavender cupcake recipe is uncomplicated and unfussy. Just lavender flowers, sugar, and a bit of honey. Simple. So let me teach you how to bake with lavender.
This cake batter yields between 24 and 36 cupcakes depending on how much you end up filling the paper liners. In my photographs, I show two kinds of embellishment; a smooth glaze with lavender flowers, and a honey cream cheese frosting with sugared flowers.
If ‘going the glaze route’ the liners must only be filled 1/4 of the way full. Once baked, and of course given the rise, there must be enough room to completely “fill” the glaze submerging the crown of the cupcake to create a perfectly smooth top. If ‘going the cream cheese frosting route’ the liners may be filled just under half way to ensure the rise is only just at or slightly above the paper edge. No high crowns for these cakes. They are miniature. Demure. Coquettish. The sugared flowers and the essence of lavender are the stars, not mounds of icing and/or glaze.
I was able to harvest a few immature heads from my lavender plants to sugar and decorate with, but will need additional time for the plants to continue to fill out and bud before I take scissors to them again. Luckily, a few beginner pansies were popping. And they make beautiful edible sugared flowers.
Lavender cupcakes with cream cheese frosting is the kind of kitchen project worthy of a birthday, shower, or Mother’s Day celebration.
Arranged on a pretty white cake platter, I am reminded of a pastel spring bouquet. And, I am inspired. To get the glaze the correct color of lilac cupcakes, I used pastel blue food gel and a drop of pastel pink food gel. A little goes a long way, so I mix in a separate bowl for just the correct purple, and add mere drops to my glaze before mixing. For the honeyed cream cheese frosting, I opted for a mauve and increased the pink food gel by two drops. For not knowing how to make mauve icing, I think I kinda nailed it.
Either the glaze or the cream cheese frosting could handle a drop of consumer grade lavender extract. To that end, the cupcake batter or the cream cheese frosting could handle lemon, honey, or a teaspoon of loose Earl Grey tea. All of these variations are far stronger in flavor than the recipe the way I present it here. However, it can be done easily to create lavender honey cupcakes, lemon lavender cupcakes, a lavender cream cheese frosting, or a lemon cream cheese frosting.
I guess the takeaway here I am imparting to you is to make the recipe, taste as you go, and add according to your strength in taste preferences or follow exactly as I indicate in the recipe card. I like things lite and am of the opinion that ‘less is best.’ So I will almost always offer a basic list of measurements for you to follow or to add to. This is one of those flexible recipes you have some leeway with. In case you need some components, I have linked to products herein for purchase if you are having trouble finding such rarities at your grocer. Everything but the dry ingredients, that is.
Do You Have What You Need To Bake Up Sweet Lavender Cupcakes With Sugared Flowers And Cream Cheese Frosting? Check The List!
edible dried lavender
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Sweet Lavender Cupcakes With Sugared Flowers And A Honeyed Cream Cheese Frosting
- 12 or 24 well cupcake tin
- paper cupcake liners
- electric hand mixer
- tiny paintbrush (sugared flowers)
- parchment paper
for the cupcake batter
- 1 ½ cups AP flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon edible dried lavender ground in spice grinder or crushed with mortar and pestle
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup whole milk room temperature or slightly warm
- ¼ teaspoon ** lavender extract optional
for the glaze
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar sifted
- 5 tablespoons whole milk
- violet gel paste food coloring or other lavender-colored food coloring
- loose lavender flowers for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon ** lavender extract optional
for the honeyed cream cheese frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup clover honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
for the sugared edible flowers
- 1 large egg white whisked until frothy
- sprigs edible dried lavender or other edible flowers
- ½ cup superfine sugar
prepare the sugared flowers
- Dip a very small dry pastry brush or tiny paintbrush very slightly into the frothed egg white and lightly brush the lavender sprigs or petals of whatever flower you are using, front and back. Use tweezers to hold the flower while applying the egg wash. Coat with sugar, shaking off excess. Allow to dry 1 hour on parchment-lined baking sheet.
prepare the cupcake batter
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. I am using a pale pink and a pale blue respectively.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Using an electric hand mixer, beat granulated sugar, lavender, and butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add eggs 1 at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding next egg. Beat in the pure vanilla extract.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beating just until incorporated.
for cupcakes that will be glazed:
- Fill muffin cups just under halfway (final height of cupcakes should be just below tops of cupcake liners). For accuracy, I use a 2 tablespoon cookie/ice cream scoop.
for cupcakes that will get the cream cheese frosting
- Fill muffin cups halfway (final height of cupcakes should be just above tops of cupcake liners). For accuracy, I use a 3 tablespoon cookie/ice cream scoop.
- Bake until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Repeat with remaining batter, reusing muffin pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Be very careful not to damage the folds of the paper liners. Repeat with remaining batter, reusing muffin pan.
prepare the glaze
- Whisk confectioners’ sugar and 5 tablespoons milk to pourable but thick consistency, adding more milk if necessary. Tint to desired shade with food coloring. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle loose lavender flowers atop. Let set 1 hour.
prepare the honeyed cream cheese frosting
- Beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy, about one minute. Add butter and beat for another two minutes, until well-incorporated and fluffy. Optional: add 1/4 teaspoon lavender extract and beat 1 minute additional.
- Turn mixer to low and add powdered sugar a few tablespoons at a time, beating well between each addition. Add honey and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Load into a piping bag with desired tip. Alternatively, load into a zipper seal plastic bag, snipping a tiny corner with scissors. Frost cooled cupcakes by piping in a circular pattern like a flat flower and top with a single sugared flower.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.