My college roommate bought me a lavender sachet as a gift from France - more than ten years later, it's still in my drawer, despite the fact that it really doesn't smell like much anymore.
I visited Matanzas Creek Winery winery when I was still living in San Francisco. Don't tell the authorities, but I snipped a little stem of lavender from a bush and stored it in a Krispy Kreme hat that sat in our car for 5 years.
I started a few lavender plants from seed this year, which yielded about 2 stems of flowers in total. I'm hoping 2010's crop will be a bit fuller.
So this week, I'm making a dessert dedicated to my favorite flower: rosemary cupcakes with lavender frosting. An odd combo? Perhaps. Lavender-licious? Definitely.
It seemed like it would be pretty straightforward. Find a standard cupcake recipe and frosting recipe and add some herbs and flowers. Easy, right? Eh, I may have hit a few bumps on the way.
I went to epicurious.com - my trusty go-to site for recipes - and found this recipe for a simple white cupcake. Decent reviews, and it looked pretty simple. I made the recipe as stated with a few modifications. I accidentally used more butter than the recipe called for - 5/6ths of a cup instead of the 2/3 of a cup that the recipe calls for. Oops #1. That is a lot of butter. Yum/yuck. For anyone who doesn't do a lot of baking, it's a little gross to see how much butter it takes to make a measly cupcake. Truthfully, I don't think that more butter really hurt anything except my waistline.
This is where things get craaazy! In place of the vanilla, I used 6 tsp of dried rosemary crushed into the smallest pieces I could muster with my bare hands. Oops #2. It turns out that spears of rosemary get a little bitter when you chew them. I recommend a mortar and pestle to get the pieces as small as possible. Then mix it in with the flour and milk.
Warning! This recipe produces a lot of cupcakes - 18 to be exact. I don't recommend making this many unless you have a planned outlet for them. Perhaps you can write a blog and distribute them to friends who read your blog?
I popped those bad boys in the oven and let them bake for a while. I must not be used to using my oven very much. Oops #3. At one point, instead of turning off my oven timer, I accidentally turned off the oven. No wonder the cupcakes seemed to stop baking at one point. They were a tiny bit crustier on top, but generally no worse for the wear.
As for the frosting recipe - personally, my favorite part of a cupcake - it was a no-brainer. I used Sprinkles' recipe for its famed vanilla buttercream frosting. I then mixed in 9tsp of whole lavender flowers (easily found at my Jewel's spice section). I think this was maybe Oops #4. Similar to rosemary, I think the essence of the lavender would have been a little better if I had just crushed the buds a bit more with a mortar and pestle. Also, Chris made me add more lavender to the recipe because he didn't think the flavor was strong enough. I think you could get away with 6tsp and still be in good shape.
Again, this frosting involves a lot of butter and a lot of sugar. 18 cupcakes = 4 sticks of butter in total. Sprinkles tells you that this is enough frosting for 12 cupcakes, but I frosted 18 cupcakes and still had some left.
I used an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes, and voila! Lavender-licious.
So, in the end, how did these cupcakes turn out? Not too shabby! I would definitely make these again as a unique alternative with the modifications I stated above. If you're interested, try it out for yourself. It was fun and weird to toss ingredients in to my cooking that I wouldn't normally use.
(Recommended) materials used for this project:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 6 tsps rosemary, crushed with mortar and pestle
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake tins as directed as directed in the recipe you are following.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a separate, larger bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
- In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.
- To the butter mixture, add about one quarter of the flour mixture and rosemary and mix well. Add about one quarter of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 9 teaspoons lavender, crushed with mortar and pestle
- In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.
- Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.