adult | candied citrus peel | chocolate | fruit | icing | lemon | meringue | recipe | tea | unique

Earl Grey with lemon “Tea Party” cupcakes.

May 19, 2010

Nope, these little treats don’t have anything to do with political wingnuts. They do, however, have to do with tea. Remember when “tea parties” meant actual people drinking tea? Or a scene in Alice In Wonderland? Or the famous Tea Party in Boston when people were really protesting something? And not just a bunch of loons likening President Obama to a Nazi or having strokes over non-existent “death panels”? Yeah, I do too *sighs wistfully*

My grandmother’s 92nd birthday is Friday. Happy birthday, Nana! So for me, that means three birthdays in 5 days; Jay’s sister Jennifer on the 19th, my grandmother on the 21st and Jay on the 23rd. Pretty crazy, right? And July is almost as bad- I have my friend Sami on the 3rd then my mom on the 5th. Why does it never rain, it just pours? Anyway, she’s a big tea drinker, my grandma. A fiend for it. Tea, tea, tea all the time. So what better cupcakes to make her for her birthday than ones made with tea!?

Ted Withers tea-drinkin’ pin-up, c. 1957

Anywho, these little beauties came from the April 2010 issue of the Food Network magazine (which, along with Lola, my pink laptop and Bon Appétit, is one of the gifts that really does keep on giving, thanks Jay). I highly recommend subscribing to this magazine (and Bon Appétit and getting both a pink laptop & pink KitchenAid mixer, too), because every single issue has something that I end up drooling over, making, and then everyone says “When are you making __________ again?” This particular recipe I’ve been meaning to make ever since I got this issue back in March. They’re tea cakes with Earl Grey icing, and they’re incredibly unique. Don’t worry about it if you have kids and you’re not sure if they’ll “get” the tea flavored frosting. The frosting actually tastes like iced tea with lemon, so I can pretty much guarantee you kids will dig it. However, it is a decidedly adult and “ladylike” cupcake. Perfect for an afternoon picnic or lunch outside in the summer. They’d go great with lemonade and tea (or iced tea) alike.

I put candied lemon peels on top, because with Earl Grey tea, you of course have to have lemon. I’ll give you the recipe to make your own candied lemon peel… don’t worry, it’s easy.


Get this stuff together:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Then do this:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin pans with liners. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water).
  2. Whisk until smooth, then remove the bowl; keep the water simmering in the saucepan. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, flour and salt; mix into the melted chocolate.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, whisking until smooth.
  4. Divide the batter into the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ of the way. Bake until the tops spring back when gently touched, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.


Again, you’ll need this stuff:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 bags Earl Grey tea
  • Pinch of salt

And then you’ll do this with it:

  1. Whisk the sugar, egg whites, lemon juice and salt by hand in the bowl of a stand mixer. Empty the tea bags and add the loose tea into the bowl, then set the bowl over the simmering saucepan (from the cupcake recipe above).
  2. Whisk until the mixture is hot and the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a tip, or to a plastic sandwich bag (just snip off the corner after filling) and frost.


First you get:

  • 1 organic lemon, washed well
  • 2 ½ cups sugar

Then you will:

  1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the lemon in vertical strips. Try to remove only the yellow zest, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Save the lemon for another use.In a small saucepan, combine the peels with 2 cups cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then drain off the water. Again add 2 cups cold water, bring to a boil, and drain. Repeat the process a third time, then remove the peels from the pan and set aside.
  3. Measure 2 cups of the sugar into the pan and add 1 cup water, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Add the peels and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the peels are tender and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the peels and let cool.Measure the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a medium bowl and add the peels. Toss to coat. Using a fork or your fingers, remove the peels one at time, gently shaking each to remove excess sugar. Store in an airtight container. The peels will keep for several weeks.
Would you like some tea with lemon?
These cupcakes are the perfect springtime/summertime cupcake. Light, airy frosting and a deliciously textured chocolate-y cake. The cake is actually really brownie like because of the chocolate /butter, but yet lighter, not as dense. The candied lemon peel is really awesome too, because it looks and sounds so complicated but in reality is super easy. It’s one of those things that easily impress people. As a matter of fact, I think this entire cupcake (with frosting & lemon peel) is something that will impress people. Because it’s so unique and unlike anything else, the last thing people will think of when they think of cupcakes is Earl Grey cupcakes. It’s not for everybody, I will say that. If you don’t like tea you probably won’t like this. But who doesn’t like tea? I mean, really. Who doesn’t like iced tea? Crazy people. I made my lemon peel the same day as the cupcakes, so I can’t personally vouch for how long they keep. But I’d imagine they’d definitely keep for a while. They’re really yummy too. Excellent in hot tea or iced tea, or just eaten as candy.

You could probably use any kind of tea for this. Maybe a vanilla cake, with a Grapefruit Rooibos tea meringue with candied grapefruit peel on top? Sounds delicious to me.

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  1. I just made these and they turned out great! I used my own gluten free recipe for the chocolate cupcakes but I followed your recipes for the frosting and the lemon rind. I made mini cupcakes and they are the cutest little things ever! I love the flavor combinations. Keep the inspiration coming!

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