Friday, May 30, 2008

Lavender Cocoa Cupcakes with Blueberry Frosting

Have you ever seen that Planters nuts commercial where the not so pretty lady has all the men chasing her because she dabs a cashew behind her ears and in her decolletage? (It's a fancy word for cleavage, but as we're doing a post about some mighty upscale cupcakes here today we'll use the word decolletage.) I am very tempted to do that with the Askinosie cocoa powder that arrived in the mail yesterday. It smells unbelievable. Chocolaty and full bodied and Oh. My. God. I want to bathe in the stuff. Honest.

Seriously, for a brief moment in time I thought my nose was on overdrive. I've never opened a package of cocoa powder and thought oh boy that smells delicious. I had to go and smell my Hershey's in the pantry to see if I was just being weird (or weirder than normal). Both the regular and the special dark. They smell like a chocolate cake. vaguely. Nowhere close to what the Askinosie stuff smells like. The Askinosie cocoa powder makes you think of lush tropical rainforests and sex and love and everything good in the whole world. Forgive me, I've been sniffing it all day.

So yeah, it arrived yesterday in the mail. And for most of yesterday, I just looked at it. It's in some pretty cool packaging. Unfortunately, I can be a little clueless and I may have had a ridiculous time trying to figure out how to get to the cocoa powder. Fortunately I have a brilliant husband, the Brain, who's birthday it was yesterday, and he helped me open the container.

Today, I thought I'd make something standard, like a chocolate peanut butter cupcake to give this Askinosie cocoa a whirl. I didn't know how special it is. I mean, sure Tempered Woman has a kilo (so very jealous), and Laurie at Quirky Cupcake has been going on about it for a while, but I didn't get it. Now I do. This is not the cocoa you use to bake standard cupcakes for a bunch of preschoolers or hungry sports watching men. This is the cocoa you use for more refined affairs. Cupcakes for people who will taste the cupcake instead of just smearing it on their faces or inhaling it in one bite.
So mid cupcake I switched plans. The new cupcake, although WAY more complicated, is as refined and elegant as the cocoa powder. And yeah, I believe I mentioned before that Askinosie cocoa powder is the theme for this month's Cupcake Hero. Judged (in case you forgot) by the lovely TW, Laurie, Joy and Leigh. I know I already entered it here, but see I REALLY want that shirt. And oh, yeah, Askinosie is giving a prize too. And I want it. And I'm willing to get fierce over it. And if i have to make myself fat(ter) to get it I will. Oh yeah.

And although I'm sure the fair minded ladies, TW, Laurie, Joy and Leigh, will taste the Cocoa Cupcake with Marshmallow Frosting and realize that I have mad skills, I'm padding my chances (and my behind) with these decadent Lavender Cocoa Cupcakes with Blueberry Frosting. They're dark. They're luscious. They're in serious danger of being eaten solely by me. Good thing my mom and step dad and the Queen Geek (who now has a really cool blog, go check it out here) are coming into town tomorrow and more than likely will make me share.

Lavender Cocoa Cupcakes with Blueberry Frosting
an original Shazam recipe
makes 18


1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Askinosie cocoa powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp dried lavender flowers

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to break up lumps and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and lavender flowers to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Carefully, using an immersion blender, blend in pulses until most of the flowers have been chopped and milk is frothy. Let sit for another 5 minutes, then strain out the lavender solids and let cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes)

In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they're incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 4 parts alternating with the now room temperature milk. Beat briefly for 30 seconds to make sure the batter is completely homogeneous.

Split batter between 18 prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 22 minutes, or until tops are springy and a toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out fairly clean.

Cool cupcakes completely.

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries*

Simmer blueberries on stove until most of the berries burst and release their liquids. Mash gently with a wooden spoon and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cold.

Cream butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and chilled blueberries.

* I used frozen berries, but I'm sure fresh would also work. Depending on the amount of liquid derived from the berries, you may want to adjust the powdered sugar level to ensure that the frosting is of a spreadable consistency.

cocoa nibs
lavender flowers

Pipe Blueberry Frosting onto Lavender Cocoa cupcakes in decorative swirl. Sprinkle each cupcake with cocoa nibs and lavender flowers. Being careful not to overwhelm the cupcake with either nibs or flowers.

*UPDATE!- The brand of lavender I used was The Spice Hunter. If you check the website there's a handy way of searching by state to see where you can get it near you!*


Mrs. White said...

These look amazing! I need to get my hands on some baking-quality lavender, since I now have a whole list of things I've been wanting to try out...

slush said...

OMG Mary.. You have surpassed Clara in the kissing bum category. And that takes work. ;)

They sound amazing. If only I had some lavender in stock. Im going to have to look around for it this weekend. Thanks babe!

And sooooo glad you liked the Askinosie cocoa! I adore it!

Mary said...

Mrs. White- Thanks! I found my lavender at a gourmet store in Indianapolis. It's The Spice Hunter Brand. It might be available at Whole Foods.

Slush- Wow I surpassed Clara? I'd try gourmet food stores or upscale grocery stores to find the lavender. If you need me to send you enough to make this recipe let me know! (smooooooooch!) :) Pick me!

Sara said...

If you don't save me one of those cupcakes I'm not gonna give you any of this Zingerman's bread I was planning to bring to you this weekend!

ok, I'm just kidding, but save me one anyhow!! Pretty please, with fancy cocoa powder on top! :)

Mary said...

Sara- I'll hide one or two (or six)away for you! Maybe I'll send extra home for PeePee McSwivelpants.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

these look awesome, and what a gorgeous color that frosting is! how lucky to have "special" cocoa powder, too!

Mara said...

those look amazingly yummy!!! i did some blueberry frosting a while ago for lemon cupcakes, it was such a great combo!!

Joy the Baker said...

I LOVE the blueberry and chocolate combination! And throw lavender in the mix?? Serious WOW!

Dana McCauley said...

I'm surprised the lavender could stand up to the chocolate.

Combining the blueberries and cocoa must send the antioxidant content of these cupcakes off the charts. And you know what that means - they're health food!

Cynthia said...

That chocolate sure lives up to it reputation making you think of lush tropical rainforests and sex and love and everything good in the whole world... :)

CB said...

Dang! Looks like the butt kissing torch has been passed. MUAH! I am totally impressed. Your cupcakes look scrumptious! I think I should forfeit my entry now. I can't compete with this greatness... ;)

Mary said...

steph- Thanks! I was really pleased with the pretty color of the frosting.

mara- I'll have to try those sometime. I bet they were amazing.

joy- Yeah I went bezerk. See I got this fabulous care package of dark chocolate while I was laid up and I sort of combined a couple of them.

dana- Yeah on a yellow cupcake this would be too much lavender. Hooray for health food!

cynthia- oh this cocoa definitely lives up to it's reputation.

cb- I may be the torch bearer of buttkissing currently, but I'm sure you could do better if you applied yourself! ;)

Bellini Valli said...

This cocoa is serious stuff. I can easily get my hands on culinary it is in the works:D

Half Baked said...

Blueberry frosting! OMG your killing me. These cupcakes sound divine!

glamah16 said...

OMG!Certain Someone and Brian share the same birthday!Weird. That chococlate sounds amazing. I need to send for some. I love your upscale cupcakes. Beautiful.

Tempered Woman said...

*Raising hand frantically* I have lavendar!! So by default I think I should get to try these for taste testing!! Love the recipe Mary. I'm so glad you decided to kick it up another notch because this is the type of thing I have in mind when I'm looking for creative genius. And uhm yes, I was thinking the same thing as Laurie, you managed to outbuttkiss Clara- that takes major bravado, heh

Anonymous said...

I believe I'll buy some of that just to snort. Why cook when you can send it directly to your brain?

Cakelaw said...

These cupcakes are just gorgeous!!! The colour and presentation is awesome. LOL about the getting high on the cocoa.

Deborah said...

What amazing cupcakes!! And refined and sophisticated!

LisaRene said...

Classy cupcake! Excellent choice of flavors. I love baking with lavender and can just imagine how good lavender and blueberry would be together. You better win!

Dhanggit said...

this sounds really amazing, lavender² cocoa cupcakes with blueberry frosting!! wow, ive never heard this before but its for sure i want to taste it!!

Kim said...

You are a fantastic baker. I have never used lavender in cooking, but you have inspired me to try it. Thanks.

Peabody said...

Seriously gorgeous color!

Johanna said...

I love your purple icing with the berries in it - if I ever get around to making something with lavender in it I hope I can find such a lovely vivid colour to serve it with - and thanks for info on where you got the lavender - I keep seeing it used and have been curious if people just pick it from their gardens

FJK said...

I can't wait until I need to bake for others (since I can't be trusted to have baked goods in the house) to make these wonderful looking cupcakes. Chocolate and lavender, yum.
(Lucky me, I grow my own lavender, too)

Cat said...

These cupcakes sound delicious! I am about to make them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees? I will report back. Thanks for the beautiful cupcake recipe!

Jason said...

Great job. Made 'em today and they were awesome. I just wish they had a more powerful lavender flavor. The batter was fantastic, but the lavender did not come through after baking.

One change I made was to use fresh blackberries for my frosting. Bought a container of them and cooked 'em down. Figgured seeds would be a problem so I just strained them and used the juice. Didn't even have to change the amount of sugar.

Also changed the cook time. 375 degrees for 20 minutes...probably could have been 18.

Oh, and I did one other thing. I used vanilla paste instead of extract. Doubt it mattered though.

Anonymous said...

I just made this frosting for some blueberry cupcakes after berry picking. I love the idea of natural flavoring & coloring froom berries!

Steen said...

I just found your site as I was searching for a recipe for blueberry frosting (I have a ton of them at home and I'm tired of scones and muffins) and I am in LOVE. I'm going to try your blueberry frosting on some vanilla cupcakes this week. Thanks for posting!

Amy S said...

Maybe I didn't let the blueberries cook out long enough, but I didn't really get a "wow, that's blueberry" flavor from the frosting. More of a "hm, that might be blueberry." :D

Adriann said...

Quick question about the frosting: Did you do a high-speed mix as a last step? I've read that's what you're "supposed to do"...

Many Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This post could very well be one of the most entertaining and useful I've EVER read!!! Thanks so very much for being witty and silly and smart! ;)

Anonymous said...

So I stumbled upon this blog post while I was looking for a blueberry frosting recipe. This cake + frosting combination sounds AMAZING, by the way, and I am totally bookmarking it. BUT, I tried to make the blueberry frosting and I failed miserably. The frosting was runny and grainy. Any suggestions for the next experiment? :(

Roxana said...

Hi, folks. If you have yard space, you can grow your own culinary lavender. Use a simple English lavender (not any of the lovely French that are so good for fragrance, but acrid for flavor)and DON'T USE PESTICIDES EVER when harvesting any flowers for cooking. The poison collects in the blossoms. Lavender is pretty bug-proof on it's own.
Thanks so much for a lavender recipe, they are few and far between!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a delicious combo, and I have never tasted lavender before until I got a soda shipped to me from LA (the brand is Sweet Blossom incase you were all wondering)! Probably not the best way to get the taste of
Lavender itself though..but it tasted faintly of blueberries! And they have rose flavored soda that tastes very much like a rose, so im convinced they use actual flowers for the soda... If that really was a lavender taste, then I can only imagine how this would taste w/ blueberry frosting!! drooool.... thank you for this lovely recipe that I'll try someday! But one thing....what should I preheat my oven to? And how long do I cook these?