Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes

When I lived in Montreal, my lovely roommate Jessa was the first to introduce me to the concept of baking and cooking with flowers. Until this point in my life, I reveled in the bold colors, soft lines, and sweet scents of buds and blossoms, but it hadn't occurred to me just how delicate they could become in food. The subtle aromas, the muted tones, the calmness they brought to a flavor storm of complexity—it was beautiful.

It opened a new door to how I perceive and interact with food.

It started with a glass of lavender lemonade. Jessa brewed up a fresh batch in our small kitchen while I was away and greeted me with a tall glass when I arrived back home. I was hesitant at first. The scent of lavender reminds me of summer days and peaceful breezes, not sweet refreshments. However, after I took a sip, my opinion changed entirely. The subtle tones of lavender were the perfect match for a lemon's tart disposition.

[To this day, that lavender lemonade is the best lemonade I've ever had. When the weather gets warmer, I'll be certain to share it with you too.]

Later, Jessa introduced me to the small, quaint café Fuchsia, where I happened upon my first chocolate lavender cupcake. It was, undoubtedly, delicious, but deliciously simple. The cupcake wasn't covered in a sweet, buttercream frosting. It wasn't filled with lavender cream. A few lavender buds settled on top of the cupcake to reveal the secret within.

With a flavor so pure and effortless, it would be such a shame to cover it up.

These Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes have a delicate lavender tone that is not too perfumed or overwhelming. The chocolate and lavender complement each other well, creating a cupcake with a complex palate. Please be sure to use culinary lavender and not lavender labeled for another purpose, which may be sprayed with pesticides or coated in inedible solutions. Edible lavender can readily be found in most health food stores.

One Year Ago: Cranberry Chocolate Cupcakes and Fleur de Sel Caramels

Chocolate Lavender Cupcakes

Yields 12-14 cupcakes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup hot water
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lavender, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla extract and crushed lavender.

Slowly add flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa mixture. Mix until smooth.

Fill baking cups 2/3 full of batter, sprinkle a few lavender buds on the cupcakes for decoration, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.