I made these last summer for a friend's bridal shower (sorry for the delay...). I wanted to do something different, and I'd never had honey flavored cake. Plus, the bees! I couldn't resist. They were really yummy - they reminded me of carrot cake, somehow (which is a good thing, in my opinion!). The buttercream is silky and rich and buttery, which is good since it uses a WHOLE POUND of butter!
The marzipan bees are a little trickier than the instructions in the book make them seem. Their little heads kept falling off, and the almond wings didn't want to stay on, either. But I made extra, and could choose the best of the bunch, so it worked out fine. And since the shower guests weren't looking at the pictures of Martha's perfect little honeybees and comparing them with mine, they were appropriately wowed.
From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp good-quality honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugars on high speed until pale and thick. In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, milk, oil, and zest. On low speed, mix honey mixture into egg mixture. Add flour mixture in two batches, mixing until just combined.
3. Divide batter among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. (It may look curdled; don't worry, just keep mixing! It will come together.) Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.