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Honeysuckle And Jasmine Cupcakes & The Little Gifts In Life

Honeysuckle & Jasmine Cupcakes

I did not make a cake for my birthday this year. I have a "coeur d’artichaut" you see: I change my mind at the drop of a hat. Last Wednesday I wanted chocolate and caramel in my cake. The day after I was on to lemon and vanilla. In the morning I was all set to make it a three tier with luscious curls of chocolate on top. Maybe a few piped flowers. Maybe. At the end of the day, I was seriously finding the repetitive motion of icing a few cupcakes a much better option.

Honestly, I just had one of the best birthday weekend. Really. Intensely focused on being, breathing, family and friends. No material gifts. I just wanted to spend some quality time with the people I loved the most. My parents are here and strolling the gorgeous streets of Charleston with them on a gorgeous day last Friday was just a much awaited moment. A late lunch at my favorite place, a good nap and I was a happy gal.


I did receive a gift. Seeing my parents pride and joy as I was giving them a copy of my book Plate To Pixel. That was pretty priceless… You all wonderful readers have also given me the most wonderful birthday present with your lovely tweets, messages and emails about the book. I am thrilled when you send a picture of the book of your kitchen counter or next to your camera. I want to hug you silly when you say you had many a "ha ha" moments reading it and getting some concepts that were escaping you until now.

You are given me the greatest gift ever. You got it. You got that Plate To Pixel was written with you in mind and from where I was myself when I started in my journey with food photography. The goal was to give you tools, tons of them, and examples. But not all the tools. That’s for the sequel…ahaah! To reassure you that the only way to get going at this photo thing, was to just…get going. What was the worst that could happen? More learning time, more practice round, more growth and getting inspired and moved. Yeah…that would be awful (insert sarcastic laugh).

Onion Flowers

An edible bouquet to say "Thank you".

Witnessing all the good, motivation, sharing, learning, laughing, talking. Seeing all this happening in this community, around food, the people who make it, the people who tell its story, the people who enjoy it, the people who document it…I am moved and inspired. This is my birthday present. Thank you.

And I thank whoever came up with cupcakes, tea cakes, mini cakes and the like. I dig them. They are fun to make and fun to eat, highly transportable and I rarely meet someone turning one down. Especially not these. I got the idea of honeysuckle and jasmine flavored cupcakes from my good friend John, chef at Lana’s Restaurant who used jasmine syrup to soak lemon cake layers one time.

Jasmine & Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

Luckily we have lots of honeysuckle and Confederate jasmine growing around the yard so a little of both picked out the other day and I was on my way…I made a simple syrup first with equal parts water and sugar and let it cool for about five minutes before I threw in some honeysuckle and jasmine flowers. I poured some over the cupcakes right when I took them out of the oven and added some to the buttercream.

I do live with a coconut thread hater but to my surprise, B. agreed that the toasted coconut sprinkled on top was a really nice way to round up all the flavors. When he says things like that, I immediately go hide a couple for me because I know we’re going to fight over the last one. And we did….!

Honeysuckle & Jasmine Cupcakes

Honeysuckle and Jasmine Cupcakes:

Makes 16 cupcakes

Note: Honeysuckle and jasmine grow wild in our backyards but I still washed them and patted them dry to before using. Only use edible grade flowers when baking or cooking. You can prepare the syrup a day ahead and keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator after it is made (strain the flower after a couple of days). I freeze mine in ice cubes and use for cocktails sometimes.
You can replace all the gluten free flours with 2 cups all purpose flour if desired.

For the cupcakes:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup olive oil (don’t skimp on the quality)
1 cup plain yogurt (low or full fat)
zest and juice of a lemon
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
shredded coconut to decorate (optional)

For the honeysuckle and jasmine syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flowers

For the buttercream:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of half lemon
2 tablespoon honeysuckle-jasmine syrup

Prepare the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and line cupcake tins with cupcake liners, slightly brush the inside olive oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and whisk again so that everything is well mixed. Add the rice flour, millet flour, sorghum flour, baking powder and salt and mix until the batter is smooth. (You can do this in a stand mixer if desired)
Divide among the muffin tins, filling no more than 2/3 of the way up. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out free of crumbs.
Let cool completely before frosting. Once frosted, add a few pieces of shaved coconut if desired.

Prepare the syrup:
Place the sugar and water in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring once or twice to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, let cool 5 minutes and throw in the jasmine and honeysuckle flowers. Let steep while the cupcakes cool.

Prepare the buttercream:
Place the yolks in a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
Bring the sugar and water to 238F in a medium saucepan set over high heat. Slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg yolks and continue to whisk until cold. Change to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add the lemon zest and the syrup. Continue to beat for a few seconds until completely smooth.

To assemble:
Poke holes in the cupcakes with a toothpick or a fork and pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flower syrup over them. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with star tip and pipe frosting on top. Decorate with shredded coconut if desired.

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Averie May 17, 2011 um 2:54 pm

what a heartfelt and lovely post and thank you, thank you, for writing the book with us in mind..with people who want to LEARN from you and have it be relevant to where we all are now. And yes, the sequel…please get started on that book, too 🙂

The recipe looks fabulous. I can only imagine how lovely the flavors are with jasmine and honeysuckle. Ooooh la-la! Divine!

Shalum May 17, 2011 um 2:57 pm

looks so good!

Asha May 17, 2011 um 3:02 pm

Heleneeee!!! :)) Wishing you so many more wonderful years, lovely birthday, proud moments and a joyous life! You deserve the best and I wish you tons of it!! :)))

christelle is flabbergasting May 17, 2011 um 3:04 pm

Thank you for this beautiful text Hélène! Can't wait to read Plate to Pixel! Et merci pour tant d'inspiration !

Michelle Stiles May 17, 2011 um 3:09 pm

Happy Birthday….. Since your book has graced my hands I have not been able to put it down. There is a lot of information packed between the covers and is going to take me a while to absorb all the insight. Within a week my photography has grown leaps and bounds. I am so impressed by all your hard work and feel incredibly inspired by you. I can't wait to see where you go from here and where my photography grows as I learn as much as I can.

Unknown May 17, 2011 um 3:10 pm

Happy birthday and all the best!

Melissa May 17, 2011 um 3:13 pm

Honeysuckle and jasmine are my two favorite scents! Pairing them together with food sounds heavenly.

Marina Mott May 17, 2011 um 3:16 pm

Stunning pictures!

Hannah at FleurDeLicious May 17, 2011 um 3:18 pm

These are gorgeous, and the flavor combination sounds incredible. I've never cooked or baked with honeysuckle – although as a little kid I used to sneak blossoms from my neighbor's bush and suck the nectar out! Thanks for the inspiration!

Unknown May 17, 2011 um 3:24 pm

Honeysuckle! Brings back huge memories for me. I had to sit through hours of baseball games for my brothers. I would wander the back field and dine on one little dropful after another of honeysuckle juice. I was told it had magical powers. I love your grey tones with the white lace on top in photo in that bottom photo…

Karen @ Forty Cloves May 17, 2011 um 3:32 pm

So glad that you had a nice birthday. As a new food blogger, I have such admiration for your work (I know how time consuming it is to cook, photograph and write all those posts!) You are a true inspiration. I wish you continued success and fulfillment!

katescakesandbakes May 17, 2011 um 3:45 pm

Happy belated birthday! Glad you had the most joyous of days!
Delicious sounding cupcakes too-i love the cute cases!

Kelly-Jane May 17, 2011 um 5:02 pm

Happy birthday! Lovely cupcakes.

I ordered your book from the US, couldn't wait for the UK to catch up (!) it's fabulous. Thank you and well done! xx

Ugotowana mama May 17, 2011 um 5:49 pm




Kay May 17, 2011 um 6:39 pm

Beautiful!!! And totally love the polka blue cupcake cases!

Laura May 17, 2011 um 8:11 pm

Happy Belated Birthday! What a great way to celebrate your special day.

As far as the book is concerned, I love it! I haven't finished it yet, but you already inspired me to step away from the manual mode in my camera. I love how you write, your humor seeps out of the pages, and brings a smile to my face every time, well done!

Return to Sunday Supper℠ May 17, 2011 um 8:49 pm

I spent many afternoons gleaning the "honey" out of the honeysuckle in our backyard. I love your ideas for this combination. Thank you for another incredible post. Your recipes, text, and of course, your pictures are wonderful!

Soma May 17, 2011 um 11:06 pm

one of the most beautiful posts. You are as eloquent and beautiful as your photographs! hugs and I am ordering my copy soon.will be on vacation and P2P is what is going to be my reading in the airplane later at home – India!

girlleastlikely May 17, 2011 um 11:34 pm

These look incredible! I would never have thought to had flower syrup to cupcakes!

Also, happy belated birthday! I'm glad to hear that you had a wonderful time!

penandra May 17, 2011 um 11:36 pm

Congratulations on the Saveur award! Well deserved.

Anonymous May 18, 2011 um 12:23 am

Happy Birthday, I hope the the "SAVEUR" announcement was a lovely gift. A truly well deserved honor!

Maurina May 18, 2011 um 12:25 am

Hi Helene.. for long I have been admiring you. I am amazed by how creative you are.., combining all those ingredients and create new flavor, finding ways to incorporate an ingredient into a recipe like your strawberry macarons, and your beautiful pictures!! Thank you Helene, you inspire me so much.
And this Honeysuckle and Jasmine Cupcakes… definitely I will bake them. I always love jasmine, but never before I thought of having cupcakes flavored with jasmine. Again, thank you.

Donna May 18, 2011 um 12:32 am

Happy Birthday! I loved your post this morning. I decided last night to treat myself to your book as a birthday present to me…this morning was all about your birthday! I love the interwebs, their power is great and mysterious. Off to order now-maybe I will send you some of my early attempts. Who knows, might be good for a laugh. Love your Blog.

Anonymous May 18, 2011 um 8:49 am

That looks delicious, think i'm gonna try it myself!!


The InTolerant Chef ™ May 18, 2011 um 12:38 pm

I'm glad you had such a lovely day! Great idea with the flower syrup, I had never considered honey suckle before, but I adore floral flavours and will be maiking it as soon as they're back in season down here. Yumm…

Anonymous May 18, 2011 um 12:57 pm

Hello! First of all, congratulations for this wonderful and beautiful blog!
I have a question about this recipe…Why do you choose to use millet and sorghum flours? Does it add a peculiar flavor? o can we just use 'normal' flour? (because I live in Mexico and I'm quite sure i'm not going to find them…)
Thank you

Helene May 18, 2011 um 1:28 pm

Adeline: I use rice, millet and sorghum because I prefer to bake without gluten. As far as using "normal" flour, yes, you can. Read the headnotes before after the title and before the recipe.

gegiula May 18, 2011 um 1:34 pm

Happy birthday!

I can only add to the rave and say I LOVE YOU BOOK. I've been carrying it with me wherever I went – reading it on the way to/from work, whilst queuing at the supermarket, tucked up in bed, etc. I'm half way now and dont want it to end. Ever.

I've had my food blog for 2 years now. So many missed opportunities for good pictures! Amazingly, although I knew some bits and pieces about photography (in fact, hardly anything in there is completely new to me!), I have failed to apply this to my food photography. Why?! Can't kick myself hard enough!

I needed this book to put all those things together, to tailor them to food photography, to organize them in my head, to finally start applying them in practice!

Reading it makes me want to call in sick and spend a week just taking pictures! (unfortunately, i'm in a process of moving homes, from light kitchen+garden table to dark kitchen+no outside space, which almost bring tears to my eyes – why did I not take a full advantage while I could?!)

Thank you for the amazing handbook and a tide of inspiration!

Run Fast Travel Slow May 18, 2011 um 1:45 pm

Pretty! I think cupcakes are the best birthday food.

Milda May 18, 2011 um 2:39 pm

Just to add, although I like the new title, I still think 'Foodography' was better! 2nd book, perhaps? :)) (please!)

Ziu aka gegiula

(blogger confused my accounts, somehow)

Maria May 18, 2011 um 4:03 pm

That looks amazing! Those cupcakes are so cute, where are they from?

Mary May 18, 2011 um 4:45 pm

Wishing you a Very Happy Birthday! Your book has been a gift – a gift from you that I gave myself. You have enlightened me and inspired me. I am usually a person who thinks way too long before I take a leap, but, you have encouraged me with your words "the only way to get going at this photo thing,is to just…get going". And that is what I am going to do. Thank You!

Ann May 18, 2011 um 4:47 pm

The cupcakes look delicious and – as always – your photos are incredible!

Shelby May 18, 2011 um 5:56 pm

Well Happy Happy Birthday to you!!! I am looking so forward to receiving your book, I"ve ordered my copy and it's on its way! Can't wait to relish in your advice, experience and expertise… Thank you!

Helene May 18, 2011 um 6:18 pm

Ziu aka gegiula: thanks, we could not use the name because of legal issues. Already taken by a television program.

Maria: ummm…I made them.

Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood May 18, 2011 um 6:20 pm

I think it was the coconut that made it – too sweet!

Anne @ Baking Me May 18, 2011 um 6:32 pm

Happy Birthday! I must get your book I keep hearing such wonderful things about it!

Anne @ Baking Me May 18, 2011 um 6:32 pm

Happy Birthday! I must get your book I keep hearing such wonderful things about it!

bridget {bake at 350} May 18, 2011 um 6:36 pm


Second: Honsysuckle SYRUP?!? Oh my goodness…that is brilliant!

Third: I'm not even finished with your book, but I've been composing a "thank you email" to you in my head. I *already* see a difference in my pictures. I made cupcakes this week…and didn't have to spend an extra hour editing them. Thank YOU for that!

Melanie at Brave the Kitchen May 18, 2011 um 7:14 pm

Honeysuckle always reminds me of childhood. In fact, a few years ago, I visited my parent's house and brought back some transplants for my yard. I look forward to trying these cupcakes.

I also purchased a copy of your book, and I wanted to thank you for re-sparking my interest in photography. Your book is very well written and the images are incredible. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in food photography, or photography in general for that matter…it's very inspirational!

I'm glad you had such a wonderful, relaxing birthday! I know your world must be a whirlwind right now.

Ashley May 18, 2011 um 7:19 pm

Happy Birthday dear friend. Sounds like such a wonderful time. I can only imagine the pride your parents must feel.
Still pouring over your book. Excited for the next one!! 😉

Susan Lindquist May 18, 2011 um 8:04 pm

First of all, I love the idea of making the syrup with those sweet (and sweet smelling) little honeysuckle flowers. What a wonderfully clever way to incorporate the herbal component into a cupcake recipe.

Secondly, best wishes for a happy year after this birthday and a the publication of Plate to Pixel … I purchased it the minute I heard it was in print and I have not been disappointed! It's wonderful piece of work … so helpful and full of ideas and explanations!

Third, I am so pleased that you are providing so many GF recipes. I have a friend for whom I always try to bake new and novel desserts. Your site is so helpful!


Rocky Mountain Woman May 18, 2011 um 8:57 pm

Many happy returns….

Selah Davenport May 18, 2011 um 9:56 pm

Happy belated birthday Helene! I, of course, love this because it's cupcakes ;). So glad to hear that you are having such a cherished visit with your parents. What an awesome gift! xo

s a s h a May 19, 2011 um 1:01 am

happy birthday again, helen!
you are such an amazing woman.
you have really changed me. truly.

i hope you are enjoying your wonderful company and the beautiful weather.

i just love you sooo much! 🙂

yummy supper May 19, 2011 um 2:29 am

Beautiful food and a happy cook. Sounds like life is good!
Cannot wait to get your book.

Kitchen M May 19, 2011 um 5:05 am

Happy Birthday, Helen! You are truly wonderful! You are not just a great photographer. You are an excellent teacher, good story teller, and an amazing cook!! I just wish I could know you in person, one day. 🙂

shaz May 19, 2011 um 1:06 pm

Happy birthday!! You deserve all the very best. And I reckon a good nap is worth more than it's weight in gold 🙂

megcjones May 19, 2011 um 5:22 pm

happy birthday! i've been so distracted by the lovely pictures in your book that i've hardly been able to read it yet. thanks for this great recipe, and i can't wait to try it out!

Unknown May 20, 2011 um 1:14 am


This cupcake sounds incredible. Unfortunately, I don't have access to honeysuckle or jasmine flowers. What do you think about using food grade oils? If you think that would work, how would I make the syrup?

Thank you so much for your advice. I love trying out your recipes.

An inspired fan

Ana Luísa May 20, 2011 um 12:58 pm


I've been reading your blog for a while but I think this is the first time I comment. Congrats and my present to you is to have purchased your book. It arrived here in Paris 2 days ago. I've just skimmed through but I will read it carefully to learn the most I can from it.

Ana Luisa

Rachel May 20, 2011 um 5:08 pm

What an interesting combo. I never would have thought of that. 🙂 Looks delicious, and I can imagine they good wonderfully with tea.

I just bought your book. It arrived on Tuesday. I can't tell you how happy I am to have found it. It's exactly what I was looking for.


Unknown May 21, 2011 um 1:43 am

Glad you had a great birthday 🙂 There's nothing better than spending it with those closest to you. Those cupcakes sound wonderful, I love jasmine tea and jasmine boba, and have a jasmine about to bloom on my patio. Once it does I will try to make this simple syrup sans honeysuckle 🙂

Christine @ Nourish the Budding Lotus May 22, 2011 um 1:48 am

Jasmine and Honeysuckle! That is truly amazing! I am in love with this idea. We don't have either of those here in Santa Fe, but maybe when I visit my family on the East Coast this summer I will try to make a honeysuckle simple syrup.

These are beautiful!


Patricia Scarpin May 22, 2011 um 11:37 am

What an interesting choice of flavors, Helen! Absolutely beautiful cupcakes. I sometimes have a hard feeling choosing something to bake, like you (but lemon seems to win the battles pretty regularly). 😀
I'm glad you had a wonderful birthday! You certainly deserve it.

claypotclub May 22, 2011 um 11:32 pm

I've been thinking of using these two flowers in my cooking this summer. I just love the scent! Thanks for the post.

Valentina May 23, 2011 um 12:16 pm

Helen, I've bought your book – the kindle version because this way i can carry it with me at all times. I have it all packaged in my ipad. i really had to come here to say that it is such a beautiful book. I've been following your work for quite a few years and besides your talent you are also such a gentle sould, very caring. Congratulations! We are lucky to have your teaching made available to us. I toast to your success.

Life Images by Jill May 23, 2011 um 12:35 pm

Thankyou Helene for your wonderful book Plate to Pixel. My husband ordered me one for Mother's Day and it has just arrived! I know I am going to learn lots from your book during my new path into food photography. Thank you for the inspiration you have given me to give it a go. Your work is beautiful.
Thankyou for sharing it with us. Take care and have a wonderful week.

Bea May 24, 2011 um 6:15 am

Joyeux Anniversaire Hélène! (un peu – ou même pas mal… 😉 – en retard).
Je voulais aussi te remercier pour ton livre que j'ai enfin reçu il y a quelques jours; c'est un vrai régal de le lire et de le feuilleter! Merci d'avoir eu envie de partager tout cela avec nous 🙂

Excellente journée!
Et salutations de Lausanne 🙂

Erica May 26, 2011 um 3:44 pm

I love your recipes, AND your baking cups. Would you mind sharing where you purchased the poka dot baking cups? Thanks in advance and best wishes.

{erisha} June 1, 2011 um 4:17 pm

Oh la la! just merely looking at those photos and thinking about the combination of honeysuckle and jasmine, made me salivate. Your cupcakes are immaculate 🙂

Stef August 1, 2011 um 6:40 pm

Love this post! Beautiful cupcakes and an inspired flavor. I love that you used ingredients from your own yard!

Lemon cupcakes February 2, 2013 um 12:03 pm

Absolutely lovely!

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