Lavender Buttercream Hydrangea Cupcakes

cuisine American
difficulty Moderate
season Summer
serves 12

Ingredients for the cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 cup sugar 3 egg whites, room temperature 1 1/2 tablespoons lavender syrup 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

Ingredients for the buttercream

3 cups confectioner's sugar 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream 1 tablespoon lavender syrup Food coloring gel (violet and blue)

Directions for the cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a heavy gauge cupcake pan with a non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl after 1 minute.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the lavender syrup. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and mix until combined. Add the sour cream and mix for 1 minute.
  5. Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until combined, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  6. With the mixer  on low speed, add the milk, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Spray each cup of a heavy gauge muffin or cupcake tray with a non-stick spray.
  8. Fill each cupcake cup about 2/3 full with batter, then bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Transfer to a wire baking rack to cool for 10 minutes, release from pan, and cool completely before frosting.

Directions for the buttercream frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the salt, lavender syrup, and heavy cream, and mix 1 minute more.
  3. Divide the buttercream into two equally portioned bowls. Use a toothpick to add a very small dot of blue food coloring gel to one bowl and use a spatula to thoroughly mix. Add tiny dots of gel coloring until the desired shade of blue is achieved. Repeat with the violet gel coloring in the second bowl of buttercream.
  4. Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 1M or 2D star tip, fold over the bag exposing the bottom half of the bag, and fill it 1/2 full with equal amounts of the two colors of frosting, side by side. 
  5. Pull the folded part of the bag up and over the frosting, twist, and on a small plate begin gently squeezing stars out of the bag with short, sharp motions. When both colors come out, it is time to begin frosting the cupcakes.
  6. Begin frosting around the perimeter of the cupcake and work the stars to the center until the cupcake is completely covered in hydrangea blossoms.
  7. Store the cupcakes in a cool dry place if eating the same day, or in the refrigerator to prevent the buttercream from melting.

Kitchen Notes

The buttercream hydrangea flowers can be layered one on top of the other for ultra-full blossoms, simply double the buttercream recipe. The cupcakes may be made, cooled, and stored a day in advance. Leaves from flowering hydrangea make a nice base for serving the cupcakes. The 1D closed star tip was used in the photo as it is the most common star tip and the easiest to use. The 1M open star tip produces even nicer flowers, but is slightly more difficult to maneuver the short and sharp motion. Pure vanilla extract may be substituted everywhere in the recipe if lavender syrup is unavailable.