Sweetened with honey and frosted with a luscious hibiscus lime buttercream, the recipe for these tropical passionfruit cupcakes is surprisingly easy to make at home.
[Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Torakand Adventures LLC and is part of a series of recipes developed for the fictional fantasy setting of Lost Colonies, an immersive live-action roleplaying community in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. This post also contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.]
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Honey Passionfruit Cupcakes with Hibiscus Lime Buttercream
This recipe for Honey Passionfruit Cupcakes is part of a series of recipes inspired by the fictional cultures and traditions of Lost Colonies, a live action roleplaying experience based in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. (You can learn more about this collaboration in the first post of the series.)
These little cupcakes are inspired by tropical fruits and flavors, sweetened with a mixture of honey and passionfruit syrup, frosted with bright buttercream flavored with pink-hued hibiscus tea and a bit of lime juice. The combination results in a lovely mix of sweet, tart, and slightly floral flavors, with a look that is perfectly lovely for any special occasion.
D’Leon Cakes & the Island of Liber
Named after the famed socialite Mantilene D’Leon – grand niece of Liber’s First Governor, Mantimus D’Leon – D’Leon cakes are known for their rich, brightly colored frosting. Specific recipes can vary, but the sponge cake is sweetened with honey and fruit syrup, and the frosting made from powdered sugar and creamed butter. D’Leon Cakes can be made for all sorts of festive occasions, and are a truly celebratory dessert for the people of Liber. This particular recipe is based on one my mother made for us growing up to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, with a few of my own personal tweaks.
– Excerpt from A Traveler’s Guide to Sobukand by Donla Pheinkuk
The island of Liber is located off the eastern coast of Teyan and boasts a warm, tropical climate. With mineral rich volcanic soil and a network of freshwater rivers, agriculture is well supported throughout the region. The culinary culture is complex, with sweet and spicy stews, brightly colored tropical fruits, and herbs and spices otherwise unknown in Sobukand.
Tropical Flavors: Hibiscus & Passionfruit
Hibiscus flowers and passionfruit syrup are what give these cupcakes a tropical touch. It’s hard to improve on a moist vanilla spongecake and lush buttercream frosting, but the subtle tart and sweet notes add just the right amount of something special to set the cakes apart. They may sound exotic, but neither are hard to come by with access to the internet.
Using Hibiscus Flowers
There is something incredibly decadent to me about using dried hibiscus. The bright magenta color is so striking, and I love the fruity and tart flavors hibiscus exudes. For the buttercream that will top this recipe for Honey Passionfruit Cupcakes, you’ll essentially be making a simple hibiscus tea. Whole, dried petals are soaked in hot water for a mere ten minutes to create the magenta liquid. This infused tea – with an added touch of lime – is mixed into the traditional buttercream, acting both as a natural magenta dye and lending its flavor to the rich, sugary frosting.
As lovely as hibiscus is, be warned: That magenta coloring will stain nearly anything it comes in contact with. Use caution, clean up any spills quickly, and wear dark or otherwise old clothing when using – just in case.
Using Passionfruit Syrup
If you are not familiar with fresh passion fruit, they can be a little intimidating. The inner flesh is a yellowish green speckled with large black seeds, and the outside rind is purplish and lumpy. I prefer working with passionfruit syrup – a common cocktail ingredient used in tiki and other tropical-style drinks. Paired with honey, it sweetens the sponge cake of these cupcakes just enough to taste, without overwhelming the vanilla flavors.
The Art of Icing Cupcakes
Cake decorating is most definitely an art, and not one I am trained in outside my own experiments. I used piping bags to make little flowers (as shown in this Facebook Live video). Feel free to copy me and try making little flowers; spread the icing on with a knife, or decorate the cupcakes in your own fabulous way.
Good luck in all of your baking endeavors!
Honey Passionfruit Cupcakes with Hibiscus Lime Buttercream Frosting
Honey Passionfruit Cupcakes
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup honey
- 1/3 cup passionfruit syrup
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large egg whites (reserve yolk for another purpose)
- ¼ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Hibiscus Lime Buttercream
- ¼ cup loose leaf hibiscus flowers
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Various sprinkles and sanding sugars, to decorate (optional)
Make the Cupcakes:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with muffin wrappers.
- In a medium sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cooled melted butter, honey, and passionfruit syrup. Beat in the egg whites, Greek yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined.
- Adding only a small amount at a time, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
- Fill the each muffin wrapper about two-thirds full of batter. Bake for 20-30 minutes if regular sized cupcakes (10-15 minutes for miniature cupcakes). Allow the cupcakes to cool.
Make the Buttercream:
- In a small, heat proof measuring cup, add the dried hibiscus flowers. Pour the hot water over the tea and allow to seep for 10 minutes. The water will turn into a glorious shade of magenta. (Be aware, this tea can easily stain, so quickly wipe up any spills. I find vinegar can lift the stains from counters if used immediately upon any accidents).
- Drain the infused hibiscus tea from the measuring cup and discard the used leaves. Add the lime juice to the tea and put in the fridge to cool.
- While the hibiscus is seeping, beat the butter until smooth with a stand or hand mixer. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until completely combined.
- Gently add three tablespoons of the infused hibiscus and lime tea to the buttercream and beat until fully incorporated. The buttercream will become a lovely shade of natural pink.
- Ice the cupcakes with your preferred method (I used a piping bag), and decorate with sprinkles. Store finished cupcakes in an airtight container for 3 days at room temperature, or up to seven days in the fridge
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