These are really quite basic cupcakes with a little bit of lavender in them. If you’ve ever made a plain butter cake, you probably used this recipe, but without the lavender. The only slightly complex part is the whipped ganache, which is a bit fiddly, but actually very easy. Once you’ve made the ganache once, you’ll probably want to make it again, because it gives you a delicately flavoured cream that holds up much better than whipped cream if it needs to sit around for a few hours.
The only thing to remember is that you need to start the ganache at least 7 hours before you plan to serve the cupcakes. Making it the day before is fine.
Also, I just love the flavour of lavender, but usually I make it either too strong or not strong enough. For me, this whipped ganache is in the magical Goldilocks zone – noticeably lavender, without making you think about soap…
Your shopping list
75 white chocolate
125 + 160g cream, both chilled
3 blackberries, crushed
1 tsp dried culinary lavender + 2 tsp for the cake
12g liquid glucose (yes, I know, I know. This recipe is usually made in a much larger batch. This is about 1 1/2 teaspoons, I think. Just think how much worse it would be if I’d only made a dozen cupcakes!)
250g butter, softened
300 g caster sugar
370 g self-raising flour
160 ml milk
500g blackberry jam
Now what will you do with it?
First, make the ganache. Chop up the white chocolate and put it into a bowl.
Put 125g cream in a small saucepan with the blackberries and 1 tsp of lavender, and heat until boiling point. Switch off the heat and leave for five minutes.
Pour the cream through a seive into another bowl. Press the blackberries into the seive with the fork to make sure their juice comes through. Return the cream to the saucepan.
Add the liquid glucose, which is, yes, a pain to use, but it does somehow make the ganache more stable. What I recommend doing is rinsing a teaspoon and your hands in cold water, then using the teaspoon to scoop out the glucose and your finger to push it off into the cream – the cold water makes the glucose stick less. And I’m sorry about the quantities. This is the halved version of the recipe, and even with 24 cupcakes, you are going to have more than you need…
Bring the cream and glucose back to the boil, and pour the mixture over the white chocolate in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate melts. If you’ve made ganache before, you are probably worried about these ratios, because this is a very thin ganache and about to get thinner. Don’t worry – think of this as whipped cream thickened with chocolate, and it will make more sense.
Stir in the rest of the chilled cream. You might add a drop of purple colouring to the mixture to make it more inviting if you like, but this is optional. Cover the ganache with clingwrap, which should be directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate for at least six hours or up to two days.
When you are ready to make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 180°C, and line two twelve-hole muffin tins with paper cases. (Or do this in two batches, one tin at a time.)
Grind the lavender in a mortar and pestle (you can grind it with some of the sugar if you find this easier) until it is somewhat broken down.
Put the lavender into a medium-sized mixing bowl with the butter and sugar, and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the flour and milk, alternately.
Divide the mixture between the muffin tins, and put into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes feel soft and springy when you poke at them gently. You might want to swap the trays around at the 15 or 20 minute mark, depending on how they are doing.
Remove from their tins, and let cool on a rack. Get out your ganache, and whip it as you would cream. The ganache has a higher fat content than cream, though, so it will whip up much faster – don’t put on a stand mixer and wander off to hang out the washing or something, this is probably only going to take a couple of minutes.
Use a small knife to cut a conical circle (I’m sure that is terrible geometry, but the right words escape me) in the middle of each cake – basically, you want a nice, round, section of cake, slightly pointed in the middle, which you are going to cut in half to make the butterfly wings, so don’t eat it!
Place a small spoonful of blackberry jam in the centre of each hole, and pipe or spoon the lavender ganache over the top of it.
Gently place the two ‘wings’ into the cream, pushing slightly inward as you do, to help raise the cream.
Dust with icing sugar or little purple stars.
Feed to the people you love.
Well, there’s no reason this has to be a lavender cake, I suppose, but isn’t that rather a waste? You might make the cakes with raspberry jam and a little rosewater in the ganache (add half a teaspoon with the cold cream, then taste and see if you need a little more), in which case I’d keep the cakes plain vanilla, because it is far too easy to wind up with overly-perfumed rose cakes.
You could replace 50 grams of the flour with cocoa, and then fill the cakes with cherry jam and add kirsch to your ganache. Apparently, I’ve decided that black forest is the variation I want for every cupcake I’m doing. Or just go ultra-chocolate – I bet this would be amazing with dark chocolate whipped ganache and a caramel filling, or a raspberry one, or maybe you could add peppermint essence to your whipped chocolate ganache, and have a choc-mint cupcake. At which point you should probably decorate it with shards of Peppermint Crisp, because that is the law.
In terms of dietary requirements, I don’t think you are going to be able to avoid dairy here, but if you have a good, basic vegan vanilla cupcake recipe you could certainly make this ensemble eggless. It is obviously free of nuts. It would work just fine with my gluten-free self-raising flour mix, and the result should also be low in fructose, though certainly not in lactose.