September 13, 2008

Lavender Cupcakes

Most of my friends know about my love for purple food. I eat purple food any chance I get: potatoes, cabbages, plums, heirloom tomatoes, cauliflower, blueberries, etc. Tonight I get to add a new purple food to the list: lavender.

Tonight was not my first experience with eating lavender, but it was definitely my most memorable encounter so far. Lavender Dagoba bars have long been among my favorite chocolate bars on the market. Since these bars also contain dried blueberries, however, the lavender flavor always seemed to be overshadowed by the 59% dark chocolate and the zing of the berries. In other words, lavender plays more of a supporting role in these bars. It might even be the prop guy or dog-star washer. We know it's there behind the scenes, but we forget about it once the show begins.

For tonight's dessert, I wanted to give lavender the opportunity to finally put on the evening gown and reveal herself for the entertainer she really is. No supporting roles. No fancy lighting. No Governors of Alaska dissing on community organizers. Just one light shining down brilliantly on Lavender.

Since I had yet to bake with flowers, I didn't know how best to incorporate them into the batter. I could do many things to infuse the cupcake batter with the flavor of the buds I recently purchased. At first I considered making homemade lavender sugar or lavender extract. While making both is quite simple, I would have to wait 2 weeks to 2 months to use either. I could make lavender butter, but I wasn't sure if the resulting flavor would be strong enough. (Or, did I not want it to be strong?) I decided to infuse rice milk with about a tablespoon of the dried lavender. After bringing the milk to a boil, I could toss in the buds and let their floral flavor seep into the liquid. This method seemed the most promising. It would make it easy for me to guage by smell just how strong the potion was. If too strong, I could add more milk. Likewise, I would be able to add more flowers if the scent were too weak.

Below is the recipe for my Lavender Cupcakes. Since I have many, many buds left, I have plans in the works for making lavender extract. Just imagine a touch of this potion added to pancake batter or whip cream!

In other purple food news, I bought some delicious-looking concord grapes this afternoon. With wine. Do I smell another purple sorbet?!?! Maybe I can find a way to work lavender into that recipe. I think I would explode into purple vapor at the first bite!

Lavender Cupcakes with Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes 12)

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup cane sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. culinary lavender buds
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup rice milk

Lavender Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. culinary lavender buds

To make lavender infused rice milk (or any milk of your choosing):
1. Bring milk to a boil. Remove from heat and add the 2 tsp. of culinary lavender. Allow
mixture to sit for 20 minutes.
2. Once mixture has cooled, strain. Set milk aside for the batter.

To make the batter:
1. Cream sugar and butter together until smooth.
2. Add eggs, one by one, until mixture is foamy and airy. Add vanilla extract. Whisk with a
hand-held whisk.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk.
4. Go back and forth between adding the lavender milk and the flour to the creamed sugar.
Once all ingredients have been added, whisk mixture for 1 minute until smooth. At this point I
also added some of the buds that had simmered in the milk.
5. Distribute batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 18 minutes at 350.

To make frosting:
1. Beat the cream cheese and the butter until smooth.
2. Add the vanilla extract. Beat until all ingredients are evenly mixed.
3. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches the consistency you desire.
4. Finally, add a few lavender buds if you like. Fold buds into the mixture.

Once cupcakes are done, give them an hour to cool before adding the frosting.

Unlike Lavender Dagoba Bars, there's no denying the main ingredient in these cupcakes! Every bite is lavender romping on stage in a sequins dress, her hair a great purple afro!


Hadley Gets Crafty said...

I'd love to read about how you make the lavender extract, too.

These look fabulous. I love homemade icing!

Anonymous said...

Jada, this blog is pretty funny. Hope things are going well. Who's the this blog sucks guy...Dan?