MAKES 12 CUPCAKES
I THINK LAVENDER TASTES LIKE SOAP IN A GOOD WAY: delicate, clean, and floral.
These cupcakes are incredibly pretty, especially when sprinkled with dried lavender buds. Serve them at your next tea party. By which I mean, your next Long Island Iced Tea party. Dried lavender buds can be difficult to find.
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour ¼ cup almond meal or finely ground almonds 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs ¼ cup half-and-half or milk ¼ cup almond liqueur, such as amaretto
FOR THE FROSTING:
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, softened 3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar 3 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons half-and-half or milk 2 tablespoons almond liqueur, such as amaretto
Dried lavender buds, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES, whisk the flour, almond meal, lavender buds, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine the half-and-half and the almond liqueur in a liquid measuring cup. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated after each addition.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove them and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING, combine the butter and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the honey, half-and-half, and almond liqueur, and beat until incorporated. Gradually beat in another 1 to 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick and creamy.
Spread the frosting over the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with dried lavender buds, if using.
SHAKE IT UP: Substitute finely ground walnuts for the almond meal, and walnut liqueur, such as Nocello, for the almond liqueur. Or, substitute honey liqueur, such as Bärenjäger, for the almond liqueur.
NOTE: To make a 9-inch layer cake, grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter or spray them with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter or spray the paper. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Prepare a double batch of the frosting. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread with one-third of the frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake and around the sides.