Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes

Spring has only just barely joined us here in Bozeman and I am ready for it. Although I haven’t yet figured out in what capacity I’m going to participate in running season this year, not needing multiple layers of clothing to visit the great outdoors is definitely improving my morale. M and I have been hiking every weekend since mid-March when the ski area closed, and with the social distancing practices it’s turned us from standard trails towards wandering about new-to-us public lands.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

As the snow became less frequent and the plants started to show bits of color, my typical lemon cravings arrived too. I’d had cupcakes on my list to make for approximately a year at this point and a springtime version seemed the obvious solution. (Plus it allowed me to use these gorgeous cupcake liners I bought at Costco way too many years ago.) Borrowing a recipe from the always-amazing Pastry Affair, I set out on a cupcake quest. I knew I wanted to incorporate an herbaceous aspect and with thyme being the most appropriate herb available at the store that day, I was inspired by yet another Pastry Affair scone recipe I’d made last year.

Knowing I wanted a lighter buttercream frosting in lieu of a decadent cream cheese concoction, I modified a separate recipe with another addition of thyme in order to harmonize the two recipes with plenty of springtime flavor.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Moist and light, these cupcakes are packed with blueberries and accented with lemon and thyme for a slight twist on a classic. They are not exorbitantly sweet which means even with the buttercream frosting it’s a reasonable sugar high. (Still plenty sweet though, it is a cupcake, after all.) The frosting is fluffy and bright with a little thyme flavor, and a few specks of the herb throughout. I opted for some simple rose swirls to keep it a relatively light amount of frosting, and to bring an edible bouquet to my kitchen.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These keep well on the counter, remaining moist and delicious for at least five days. Realistically probably longer but we’d given away or demolished all 18 of them by then. If you’re in need of a wonderful treat with plenty to share, these cupcakes are perfect. They’d make a lovely addition to Mother’s Day but are low-stress enough for any weekday treat.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Blueberry Thyme Cupcakes

Vaguely adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp lemon zest, minced

2 large eggs

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Sicilian Lemon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp vanilla

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp flour (if using frozen berries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two cupcake tins with a total of 18 baking cups.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream together butter,  sugar, and thyme until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one, then mix in yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
  5. Add in the dry mixture about 1/4 cup at a time,  until mostly combined.
  6. Stir in the milk on low speed until the batter is smooth and there are no flour streaks.
  7. If you have frozen berries, toss them with the tablespoon of flour until well coated.
  8. Gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed.
  9. Fill each baking cup with about 1/4 cup off batter, then bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If your tins will fit side by side on the same oven rack, you can bake them all at once, otherwise I recommend doing each tin separately.)
  10. Cool briefly in pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely prior to frosting.
  11. Frost as desired, then store in a sealed container on the counter up to one week (or until devoured.)

Lemon Thyme Buttercream Frosting

Borrowed from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, minced
pinch of salt

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about two minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients on low speed until just coming together.
  3. Beat on high speed for three minutes, until frosting is fluffy, uniform, and fragrant.
  4. If necessary, adjust consistency with an additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar another tablespoon of cream to thicken or thin, respectively.
  5. If you are relatively light with frosting (like me), you can store leftovers in the freezer. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using, adjusting texture with additional cream if needed.

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Happy July, folks! Halfway through the year and super psyched for the last round of posts for National Ice Cream Month! Are you excited? I’m excited. Each Frozen Friday of July will feature a new flavor, and I hope at least one of them leaves you with a new project for the weekend. (I’ll be breaking from the norm and posting the ice cream recipes in the morning, in case you need to make a grocery stop on your way from from work.)

You might be wondering how salad fits in here. For my regularly scheduled Wednesday programming, I’ll be featuring a salad series to balance a decadent month of dessert. Lots of different flavor profiles to look forward to and there should be a little something for everyone.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

First up is this red, white, and blueberry salad. This salad is served chilled which makes it easy peasy to make a couple of hours ahead (just pop the whole bowl in the fridge) and you’re all set. With no lettuce to wilt it’s great for potlucks and barbecues and a festive addition to your holiday parties that isn’t completely full of sugar.

Roasted beets are something I love immensely but rarely make because they’re a bit messy. I promise you the the pink hands and counters and bowls are all worth it here. Earthy and sweet, beets are wonderful chilled and warmed alike, which makes them extremely versatile across many dishes, including my favorite breakfast hash and sandwich at Jam. I nearly always order one or the other there, depending on if I want eggs or bread with my beets.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Complementing the beets is some tart apple and fresh blueberry. I love apple in salads for the crunch, and using a green one here is a delightful juxtaposition from the sweetness of the beets and blueberries. A simple white balsamic vinegar adds a lovely tang without the heaviness of a proper vinaigrette and a little bit of mint brings a summery freshness to the whole ordeal. As it stands this recipe is vegan, but if you want to include the creamy factor, goat cheese is always the answer in my world. (For the anti-goat cheese crown, Feta or parmesan are great substitutes.)

Pop some beets in the oven this evening so they’re ready to go tomorrow, and you’ll be all set for a lovely holiday side dish in no time!

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you are one of those people that can’t stand beets, I forgive you. Make it a fun fruit salad by substituting watermelon instead!

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 large beets, roasted1, chilled, and spiralized or diced
1 medium green apple, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (Barrel Aged) white balsamic vinegar, to taste

4-6 oz goat cheese (or Feta or parmesan), crumbled or shaved
large handful fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss beets with 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar until well coated. Transfer to serving bowl(s).
  2. Rinse bowl (so it’s not pink) and toss apple and blueberries with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar until well coated. Spread evenly over the beets.
  3. Crumble cheese and mint atop the salad and drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.
  4. Serve promptly or chill until ready to eat.

Notes

If you’ve never roasted beets before, this is the method I use!

Blueberry Almond Cardamom Smoothie

Smoothies are one of my favorite things about summer. There’s nothing like a cold smoothie at the end of a hard and hot workout for a no-brainer recovery meal. I’ve previously shared my other go-to peanut butter and banana concoction, but this is another excellent option for those that aren’t fans of banana or are in the mood for a less sweet experience.

Blueberry Cardamom Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

Plenty of blueberry flavor with hints of almond and cardamom make this reminiscent of one of my favorite pies, while the other mix-ins add protein and healthy fats to keep me full. Spinach is the best secret ingredient and if your blender allows, feel free to add more. As written, this recipe nearly exactly fills my single-serving blender (a bit overfills  it with the higher ends of everything) but if you’re using a standard size you can easily double the spinach content without affecting the delicious flavor.

Blueberry Cardamom Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

Like all smoothies, this one is super easy to tailor to your caloric needs: use the low end of the protein powder, chia, and hemp (or skip them entirely) for a lighter snack or a healthy dessert, and the full amounts for a proper meal replacement. I like my smoothies and milkshakes quite thick, but you can add extra almond milk to thin yours out if necessary.

Perfect for the next time you want pie but need protein, this is a great go-to to add to your summer smoothie repertoire.

Blueberry Almond Cardamom Smoothie

Makes 16-20 oz

Ingredients

3/4 cup frozen blueberries
2-inch piece frozen banana (optional, adds a touch of sweetness)
1/2 – 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1-2 Tbsp chia seeds
1-2 Tbsp hemp hearts
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, to taste
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup spinach, frozen and crushed1
3/4 – 1 cup almond milk, to taste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender (I find it easiest to add the spinach and almond milk last) and process until smooth.
  2. Taste and add extra spice or thin almond milk as preferred.
  3. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

Easiest way to do this is just to pop a whole bag of fresh spinach in the freezer. Once frozen you can crush it with your hands or a rolling pin, which makes it much easier to pour into the blender cup.

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Each summer in Bozeman there is a weeknight Farmers’ Market just a few blocks from my work. If I remember, I love cruising through to see the array of fresh produce, baked goods, artisan jewelry, and local craftsmen from the area. One of my favorite things is the abundance of jam flavors, everything from the standard mixed berries to the more unusual sweet and spicy concoctions.

Last summer I discovered a delightful blueberry lavender jam that I just fell in love with. Bursting with blueberry and complimented by the lightness of lavender, it’s a flavor profile that is excellent on toast or a scone, but also escalates your standard PB&J into something a bit more exciting. Given its huge success in jam form, I decided it’d be an excellent combination as one of this year’s ice cream flavors.

I combined the ideas from my favorite blueberry sauce and my lavender ice cream from two years ago into one glorious experience. The syrup is excellent on its own and in a thickened form2 would be delicious for pancakes or waffles. Mixed into the ice cream it’s lighter in taste than some of your more traditional flavors (although the nutritional information looks no different.)

This is a fantastic summer flavor and works well with both fresh or frozen blueberries, whichever you have on hand. It’s also a great way to use up last year’s berries to make room for the new crop. Summery blueberry and fragrant lavender is a combination of which I will never tire,  and I encourage you to give it a try. As an added bonus, the ice cream is a beautiful swirled reddish-purple and adds lovely color to your dessert table. If you’re a cake and ice cream person, I’d recommend a light vanilla bean cake to pair it with.

Give this one a try and be sure to come back next week!

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream 

Makes 6-7 cups

Ingredients

Blueberry Lavender Syrup
2 cups blueberries (if frozen, thaw and drain before using)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp culinary lavender

Ice cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sugar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, water, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a light boil and heat for an addition 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing blueberries to release more flavor.
  2. Meanwhile, gently crush the lavender buds with a spoon (or a mortar and pestle, if you’re fancier than I am).
  3. Remove blueberry sauce from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the berries. Stir lavender into the syrup and allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
  4. Strain syrup through the sieve again, then store in the fridge until chilled or ready to use.2
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cream, half and half, egg substitute, and 1/2 cup sugar.
  6. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled, or overnight.
  7. Reserve 1/2 cup of blueberry lavender syrup, and whisk 1 – 1.5 cups into the ice cream mixture.
  8. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. During the last minutes of churn time, stream in the reserved syrup for a marbled effect.
  9. Transfer ice cream to a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  10. Excellent solo or with extra syrup.

Notes

You can discard the berries or store in the fridge to use as an ice cream topping. I also used some in oatmeal and smoothies which were both excellent.

If you are making the syrup specifically as a topping, you could stir in some cornstarch (mixed with water). Return to a boil for a few minutes to thicken the consistency of the syrup. Add the berries back in for a chunkier sauce if you like.

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

 [Welcome to Frozen Friday! In honor of National Ice Cream Month, I am sharing a new ice cream recipe each Friday morning. In case you missed them, be sure to check out the previous recipes, s’mores and mimosa!]
 
Is it just me, or is July flying by? I feel like May was only a few weeks ago and here it is with August right around the corner. Insane. At least until I take the weather into account. Montana has been met with somewhat of a heatwave this week, and I’m super grateful we don’t get much humidity along with it.
 

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

With hot weather comes extra cravings for cold treats, so hopefully you’re ready for a new flavor. The world is full of cheesecake ice creams, usually strawberry, and today we’ll had one more to the mix. I chose blueberry due to the abundance in my freezer, but you could definitely substitute blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, or whatever your favorite is.

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

The ice cream itself is a mild cheesecake flavor made more interesting with the addition of cardamom. Although I actually really love the flavor of cardamom, it rarely occurs to me to use it outside of my Christmas krumkake-making sessions with my family. It’s a wonderful spice with a bit more intrigue than cinnamon, and is ready to up the ante in your baking adventures. A few years ago I discovered cardamom cream cheese frosting, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a pleasantly spiced and cream cheesy ice cream to add to your repertoire, and is excellent on its own. The blueberry sauce swirl not only adds wonderful flavor, but a gorgeous color as well. You can stir it in as much or as little as you like, depending on whether you prefer it streaky or entirely purple.

Although cheesecake ice cream often contains a Graham cracker crust component, I opted not to add one. Personally it adds a level of sweetness I am not looking for, and it alters the texture as well. If you’re missing it, however, you can certainly crumble your favorite Graham cracker crust into the ice cream, or use it as a topping.

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ve included recipes for both cardamom cheesecake ice cream and a blueberry sauce below. If you’re in a bind, you can substitute canned blueberry pie filling, but I promise this sauce is quite simple to make, just remember to allow for chilling time. You likely will not have any leftover sauce, so make an extra batch (with extra cornstarch! see note) if that saddens you. Not a fan of cardamom? Substitute cinnamon or nutmeg, or leave it out entirely. If you’re looking to pump up the cream cheese flavor, you can try adding extra cream cheese to the base, or you can add a tablespoon or two of dry Cheesecake-flavored instant pudding mix.

Blueberry Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a lovely recipe for these hot summer days, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Cardamom Cheesecake Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp ground cardamom1

1-2 Tbsp dry Cheesecake-flavored instant pudding mix (optional)2

Directions

  1. Warm cream cheese in the microwave until easily stirred (if it isn’t already), about 30 seconds.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until mixture is smooth.
  3. (If you don’t have a blender, use a hand mixer. Alternatively, mix cream cheese and sugar first, then slowly whisk in liquids until completely combined and smooth. Whisk in vanilla and cardamom.)
  4. Cover bowl (or keep it lidded in the blender container) and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled, or overnight.
  5. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight. Or, follow Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe below.
  6. Top with crushed Graham crackers or Graham cracker crust for extra flair and crunch.

Notes

1 I used 1.5 tsp, but I think I’ll use 2 next time because I like a pretty strong flavor. If you don’t like cardamom, you can leave it out or substitute cinnamon or nutmeg, adjusting quantities to your preference.

I did not add this, but if you want it super cream cheese tasting, this is the easiest way to pump up the flavor.

Blueberry Sauce3

Borrowed from My Baking Addiction
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine blueberries, 1/2 cup water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a low boil.
  2. Mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp cold water until completely combined. Slowly stream into the blueberries, stirring constantly but gently, and simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and zest, mashing blueberries a little.
  4. Serve on your favorite French toast, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, or mix in to Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (below).
  5. Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat slightly as necessary.

Notes

This is the same recipe I use for topping waffles and Overnight French Toast, but with less cornstarch for a thinner sauce, which keeps it smoother when frozen in the ice cream. If you want to make it as a topping, use 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 2 Tbsp cold water.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 recipe cheesecake ice cream, chilled but not churned (or *just* churned)
1 recipe of thin blueberry sauce, chilled

Directions

  1. If you haven’t churned the ice cream already, place a freezer-safe bowl in the freezer.
  2. Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  3. Remove bowl from freezer, and drizzle some blueberry sauce on the bottom.
  4. Gently spread about one cup of ice cream into the bowl, and top with another drizzle of blueberry sauce. Avoid stirring if you don’t want your ice cream to be completely blue/purple. Repeat with remaining ice cream and sauce. If desired, gently swirl with a table knife.
  5. Return bowl to freezer for about 3 hours, or until ice cream is firm.
  6. Serve solo or topped with extra sauce and crushed Graham crackers (or crust.)