Choose Your Cake
Start with the cupcake itself. While there are excellent cupcake mixes out there, jazz them up a bit with an assortment of additions. Try dark chocolate with rum-soaked cherries or spice with mandarin orange segments and finely chopped candied ginger. Transform simple vanilla or butter cake by stirring in dried cranberries and extra vanilla or whole hazelnuts and a sprinkling of nutmeg or cardamom.
Once your cupcake base is chosen, it's time to think about frosting. I'm not a big fan of sickly sweet frosting, so I usually start with softened butter, adding just enough powdered sugar to provide a hint of sweetness and help the frosting hold its shape. Then I beat in whatever flavorings I fancy. This time I added a tablespoon of very strong tea.
For my chocolate cupcakes I made a raspberry tea-flavored butter frosting; for the vanilla cupcakes I made a butter frosting with a tea rich in autumnal spices. They were both lovely, delicately flavored, and beautifully fragrant. When adding a water-based liquid like tea to a butter frosting, be sure to whip it well so it emulsifies and doesn't turn into a soggy, dripping mess. Let your imagination run wild as you experiment with different tea flavors for your tea party cupcake frosting. Try Earl Grey frosting on a caramel cupcake, cherry tea frosting on a white chocolate cupcake, or a nutty dessert tea frosting on a coffee flavored cupcake.
With a Cherry On Top
The crowning glory for a cupcake is the decoration you choose for the top. It can be as simple as a chocolate-covered coffee bean or perfectly formed fresh berry, but you can also head out to the garden or your local market to find some unusual toppings.
Try blossoms from flowering herbs such as pineapple sage, thyme, rosemary, or bergamot. Pluck a few fragrant green mint leaves or a cluster of lemon balm, rosemary geranium, or cinnamon basil. Toast and crush some walnuts or pecans to top a few cupcakes, and dust others with a fragrant sprinkling of ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom. You can always turn to jelly beans, wine gums, or candy sprinkles to add a cheery spot of color.
Then nestle your creations into an array of tea cups and mugs accompanied by saucers and spoons to dish up mouthfuls of frosted cupcake goodness.
Use cake mix of your choice and stir in additions such as nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, or spices.
Bake and set aside to cool.
- 1 cup softened butter
- powdered sugar to taste
- 2 tablespoons strong tea
Whip frosting ingredients together until emulsified and spreadable.
Frost cupcakes and decorate as you like.
Place cupcakes in tea cups and serve with spoons.