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
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.
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!*