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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Hibiscus Triple Lemon Cupcakes

This is a riff on the Meyer Lemon-Hibiscus Cupcakes I made for a friend's birthday last month. I used this as the fourth and final pairing for my collaborative Mothers' Day Happy Hour with The Quail & Olive and Big Sur Vineyards. Lenora poured her Sparkling White with it. Bubbles are always the perfect dessert pour.

One of the attendees mentioned that he never eats the frosting on cupcakes because they are always too sweet. But he tasted mine and ate the entire thing. That made me smile because I have made lots and lots of frostings before I came up with this version! It's creamy and tart and one of my favorites. The cupcakes are triple lemon because I used a co-milled Lemon olive oil from The Quail & Olive, candied lemon rind, and freshly grated lemon zest.


Hibiscus Tisane

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • 3 Tablespoons dried hibiscus petals


  • 1/4 cup Lemon olive oil

  • 3/4 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs, separated

  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup hibiscus tisane

  • 1-3/4 cup flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped candied lemon peel

  • grated zest from 1 organic lemon

  • Also needed: cupcake liners, sprinkles, edible flowers

Hibiscus Ermine Frosting

  • 1/2 cup hibiscus tisane

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup organic granulated sugar

  • 5 Tablespoons flour

  • 1 cup (2 sticks butter)

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Decorations, optional

  • edible flowers

  • sprinkles


Hibiscus Tisane

Place the petals in a jar or mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water of the petals and let stand until the water is cooled. Strain out the petals and set aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add in the oil, sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, buttermilk, and hibiscus tisane.

In another mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and fold in gently with a spatula until just moistened.

In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter, taking care not to deflate the egg whites too much. Stir in the candied lemon and lemon zest, gently.

Scoop the batter in the cupcake liners, approximately 1/ 3 cup. Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the cupcakes completely on wire racks before frosting.

Hibiscus Ermine Frosting

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together buttermilk, hibiscus tisane, sugar, and flour. Cook, whisking constantly, for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture thickens and resembles a thick pudding. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Press plastic wrap into the top to prevent a skin from forming.

Cream together the butter and vanilla extract on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until light and fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Add the cooled hibiscus mixture to the bowl and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Mix on high for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Using a piping bag and tip, decorate the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles and edible flowers, if using.

One of the ladies at the event had a funny comment about edible flowers. She said that they were pretty, but reminded her of bad lettuce. Too funny! I shared that sentiment with R and Jake on our Mothers' Day hike. And they agreed with her.

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