The Hunt for Dandelion Cupcakes

When I think back to some of my favorite food memories with mom, one that stands out is the time she made candied flowers.

I was eight and my parents were hosting a dinner party. For dessert, we were having cheesecake decorated with edible flowers. 😋🌸 

By mid-afternoon, our kitchen was covered in sugar-crusted violets, pansies, and nasturtiums. Thinking back, I don’t know that I’d connected flowers as food before that day. And as I sat there nibbling on pieces of candied violet, I may as well have been eating alongside the Lost Boys in the trees, or with Puck under a starry midsummer sky. It was magical.  

We recently decided to recreate some of that magic while I was visiting family in Florida.

We’d come across a book called Florida’s Edible Wild Plants: A Guide to Collecting and Cooking, which is exactly as the title describes. The book includes recipes for cattails (spoiler: they’re good in pancakes!), berries I’d never heard of before (beautyberry anyone?), and a list of toxic plants to avoid and how to identify them. Importantly, you should never eat anything you’re unsure about or that may have been sprayed with pesticides. With kids, it may make sense to create some boundaries, like showing them easily identifiable plants and flowers, and only letting them eat from certain designated areas (like your yard). 

The book inspired a conversation about our growing disconnect from food, and the lost magic of foraging from the forest or farm for supper. Over the past century, roughly two-thirds of farms in the U.S. have disappeared, and forest cover is on the decline. There has also been a surge in pesticide application in recent years—we apply roughly a billion pounds a year of pesticides in the U.S. to our land. Ready Roundup, a popular pesticide for lawns, not only kills dandelions but has also been linked to severe health issues.

After that more serious conversation, it was time for something sweet! 😉

We got out the cookbook and landed on dandelion lemon cupcakes.

There’s a lemon tree just behind the house, so lemons were an easy find. Dandelions proved more challenging. After searching the yard and neighborhood, we only found row after row of perfectly manicured lawns. In the end, we decided to substitute dandelions with basil from mom’s garden. 

Both recipes (with modifications) can be found below.  

It’s worth noting you should be able to dress up pretty much any cupcake recipe with dandelion petals in the batter, and you can always just pop a dandelion bloom on top of your cupcake of choice too!  

The below recipe is a modified version of Forest and Fauna’s Dandelion Lemon Paleo Cupcakes and includes a basil syrup if, like us, you can’t find dandelions. 

Dandelion (or Basil) Lemon Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 to 2 cups dandelion petals (save one “bloom” for each cupcake top for decoration!) 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour) 

  • 3 pastured eggs (we used an egg substitute) 

  • 1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, or granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter, softened

  • Zest from 1 lemon 

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Pinch of sea salt

For the Frosting:

  • 2/3 cup Earth Balance vegan butter, softened 

  • 1/4 cup raw honey or powdered sugar 

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Zest from 1 lemon 

For the Basil Syrup:

  • 1 cup water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 7 fresh basil leaves

  • Zest from 1 lemon

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Separate the yellow petals from green stems. If you’re not baking right away, the yellow petals can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days. The petals get added to the batter last.

  3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until smooth.

  4. Line a one-dozen cupcake tin with liners. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the tin.

  5. Bake for ~18 to 22 minutes until toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients until smooth.

  2. For basil cupcakes, add 2/3 of the basil syrup to the frosting and use the remainder to coat the cupcake tops. 

For the Basil Syrup:

  1. Combine ingredients into a saucepan and boil until reduced to ~1 cup. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons to frosting, and brush remainder onto tops of cupcakes. 

Wishing you all more magical moments with mom, and more recipes with ingredients straight from Mother Earth! Head over to our social media to watch our baking adventure unfold.

— Abi and the Allergy Amulet Team

Get to Know Our CEO, Health & Wellness, Nutrition, RecipesAbigail Barnesrecipes for people with food allergies, spring, allergy mom, food allergy mom, dairy free dessert recipe, healthy dessert recipe, foraging, environment, environmental chemicalsComment

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