Lately my inspiration in the kitchen has been flowing freely and I am loving it. I am feeling inspired by so many great cookbooks, dishes listed on restaurant menus, and especially by beautiful offerings at my favorite local markets and stores. Sometimes a single ingredient sets my mind rambling until I settle on the perfect way to feature it. In the case of this particular recipe, I found these gorgeous vibrant locally grown edible flowers, and I knew I had to do something with them. I wanted something light, pretty, and subtly floral and thus, lemon lavender cupcakes were born.
If the sound of lavender in a dessert makes you cringe, don’t. I used to be skeptical but found that I do enjoy lavender when it is carefully balanced. In this case, we have sweet-tart lemon cupcakes topped with a fluffy lemon buttercream and finished with a thin coat of lavender sugar over the top. This gives a floral note that is mild and earthy. If you are super into lavender and want to further enhance that flavor, make a lavender simple syrup and brush it onto the cakes when they are still warm from the oven. (Then use the leftover syrup for this lovely summer cocktail!)
There are a few different approaches you can use to make the lavender sugar. The one I used and what I recommend is to finely grind culinary lavender buds in a spice grinder and combine a small amount with the sugar (recipe below). You can try grinding the buds with a mortar and pestle, but I have tried this before and find that lavender doesn’t grind finely enough. You could also use a food processor, but you would have to use quite a lot of lavender and you only need a teeny bit for this recipe. One additional approach would be to simply combine lavender buds with sugar and let the scent infuse the sugar over time. This would bring the flavor but would not have the lovely flecked appearance that I prefer. Tons of options – see what works best for you!
Side note – the kids both thoroughly enjoyed helping me style the cupcakes themselves as well as these photos. I think they did a pretty good job!