There's been a definite drop in the temperature this week which has left the gang at The Amazing Blog hankering after all things warm and cosy. Gone is the air conditioning and open windows, to be quickly replaced with radiators and mugs of sweet hot chocolate. And with all the extra layers we're currently donning, the lunch time-salads and afternoon apples have been forgoed in favour of a plethora of carbs and hot soups.
And our new favourite afternoon indulgence comes in the form of hot buttered toast and our fabulous new find - Lavender Honey. Created by Celia Lindsell, a specialist in French Lavender, the finest Lavender Honey from the slopes of Mont Ventoux is now available on our cold British shores. Unlike normal honey, this mouth-watering Lavender variety is sourced from hives located in the hectares of the world's finest lavender fields. The honey is harvested immediately after the lavender flowering season to ensure its purity and being a monoflora it has distinct and intense flavours, is opaque in colour and deliciously runny in texture.
Known for its plethora of benefits that go well beyond taste, honey is a great natural source of carbohydrates that gives an immediate energy boost and can help prevent fatigue during exercise. It is also well known for its ability to help sore throats and can even be used as an effective treatment for burns (handy if you happen to be lingering slightly too close to the office radiator!).
And for any foodies out there, why not take inspiration from French farmers who graze their lambs in fields of organic lavender to give the meat a superb, fresh, floral flavour and use it to marinade your favourite meat? Or if you're after a sweeter treat, why not try the fabulous Lavender and Honey Cupcakes that Celia suggests? Celia Lindsell Lavender Honey is available online here.
The aromatic sharpness of lavender combined with soft honey flavours and toasted almonds give these cupcakes an intensity of flavour that is luxuriously decadent and festive.
280g plain flour, sifted pinch salt 110g unsalted butter, softened 250g caster sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 125ml full fat milk 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract 50g soft butter 450g icing sugar (approx – depending on the consistency you want to achieve) 80ml lavender milk (see footnote below) 2 tablespoons double cream 1 tsp of our Lavender Honey some flaked almonds, lavender and edible silver glitter to decorate
Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Sift together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add caster sugar and beat for 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beginning and ending with the flour. Be careful not to over mix.
Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into cupcake liners - about 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Toast flaked almonds on a baking tray in a hot oven for approx 5 mins – until lightly browned - and allow to cool.
Whisk butter in a metal bowl until smooth, then add 300g icing sugar, milk, honey and double cream. Blend until smooth and slowly add remaining icing sugar until you have the consistency you want.
Ice cupcakes and dust with a sprinkling of lavender buds, cooled toasted almonds and silver glitter.
For the lavender milk:
Measure out around 1.5 times the milk your recipe requires (to allow for evaporation) and add lavender buds at a ratio of 2tbsp buds to 1 cup milk to a small pan. Heat ingredients to a scald stage (just before boiling), then turn off heat and leave to cool completely. Strain the flowers with a sieve and re-measure milk before adding to your recipe.