Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lilac Muffins

Spring has never been more delicious!

Lilacs are my absolute, hands down favorite flower. The smell, the delicate purple color, the tiny blossoms, I love it all. My favorite time of year is when the lilacs bloom in May (or April as it was this year). Andrew knows how much I love them, so he bought me a bush on my first birthday that I celebrated with him, and planted it in my parents yard. I told him I would love him as long as lilacs bloom in spring. I know, I'm so romantic. Well the bush hasn't bloomed since that first year, but I still love him! (Does anyone have any idea why a lilac bush wouldn't bloom btw? It's growing fine, it just doesn't flower). We have a small bush outside of our bedroom window now, and even though I avoid opening that window because of my allergies, I make an exception when the bush is in bloom. I hate how short the blooming season is though. The blooms are on their way out, so get on this recipe right away! I never thought to bake with lilacs. It didn't ever cross my mind that they could be edible until I came across the recipe that I adapted this from. I switched out eggs, milk and butter for healthier, vegan ingredients, and topped the muffins with a thinned out version of my vegan buttercream icing and candied lilac blossoms. If you're looking for something unique, pretty and delicious to make for Mother's Day, look no further. This recipe is perfect.

The lilac blossoms on their own are pretty bitter. I thought the muffins would take on that taste, so I iced them to add some sweetness. It turns out they're not so bitter once they're baked, so the muffins tasted fine on their own. Feel free to skip the icing and candied lilacs, but they do make for a nice presentation. And candying the lilacs makes them "taste exactly like they smell", according to my brother Jesse.

Lilac Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 cup of apple puree or sauce (or 1 cube if you freeze the puree in ice cube trays)
  • 1/4 cup of Turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1 cup of unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of lilac blossoms, stems removed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
  2. Hand mix all the ingredients besides the blossoms in a mixing bowl until well blended.
  3. Fold in the lilacs.
  4. Spoon the mixture into 6 greased muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. When cooled, top with icing and candied blossoms (recipe below).

Vegan "Buttercream" Icing
Ices 6 muffins

  • 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. water (this is the thinned out version, to make the original, use only 1 tsp. of water)
  1. Cream the shortening and 1/2 of the sugar with an electric mixer.
  2. Add the rest of the sugar, vanilla and water and cream until smooth.

Candied Lilac Blossoms
Makes about 1/2 cup of simple syrup.. which will candy a lot of blossoms

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting (I tried to use organic for dusting, but the blossoms came out kind of brown and rotten looking, so this might be the only time I say this, but skip the organic version. This also makes it non-vegan, since it's bone char that whitens the sugar). 
  • Lilac blossoms, stems removed
  1. Heat the water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved to create the simple syrup.
  2. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Once cool, dip blossoms in the simple syrup using (clean!) tweezers.
  4. Blot off the excess syrup on the handle of the wooden spoon, and dip in sugar.
  5. Place on a sheet of wax paper to harden.

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