Lavender Love

For a girl whose favorite color isn’t purple, I tend to gravitate towards the color a lot.  I don’t know, there’s just something about it that makes me feel quiet and calm and cool and collected when I see it.  And I’m not talking about just any purple.  I’m talking about shades of purple that fall into the lavender family.  Ever since I started practicing yoga all those years ago, I’ve gravitated towards the scent of lavender too.  So does it surprise you when I say that this post is about…lavender frosting?  No, I bet not.

Frosting is so often taken for granted, with the cake that it goes on top of being the star of the show, but lately I’ve been finding that I’m experimenting with different flavors of frosting.  I love, love, love cream cheese based frostings and when I tasted Kumquat Cupcakery’s chocolate cupcake with lavender frosting, it opened up a whole new frosting world for me.  I knew right away that I had to make it myself.  I knew that it was just a cream cheese frosting flavored with lavender (either oil or fresh lavender) and colored with the appropriate amount of purple/blue or red/blue coloring to achieve that lavender shade.

I bought a bottle of food-grade lavender oil from my go-to cake decorating supply store (at about $10 for a 1 oz. bottle, it’s quite expensive!) and used half a teaspoon of it as an addition to the standard cream cheese frosting recipe (any cream cheese frosting recipe will do, really).  I then colored the frosting with some purple gel paste coloring and a bit of blue…When I saw that it wasn’t yet quite the shade I wanted it to be, I added a little red.  Finally I got the shade I wanted…

A word to the wise — Lavender oil is very, very (very!) strong and a little (I mean little) goes a long way.  I’m glad I exercised control and only put half a teaspoon because had I added a full teaspoon, it would have had to go into the trash.  First of all, the taste is quite strong, and to be honest, it’s a bit like spritzing some of your mother’s perfume onto a sweet, unsuspecting innocent little cupcake (should you use it as frosting for a cupcake).  It’s like little miss cupcake decided to play dress-up and put on some of her best perfume before going to the party.  You get the idea.  If you’re going to use lavender oil, use sparingly.  It has a bitter aftertaste, and you don’t want that to be what your unsuspecting eaters remember most about your frosting.  Even with half a teaspoon, the lavender was strong, but not so strong as to be overpowering.  But the next time I make this frosting, I will be using 1/4 teaspoon.  But the cupcakes were pretty fragrant!

(A short note on another frosting variation — I made another variation on cream cheese frosting by adding 5 tablespoons of Bailey’s and 2 teaspooons of instant coffee to the basic recipe.  It was a little softer due to the addition of the Bailey’s, and to remedy this, I added one more cup of confectioner’s sugar so I could pipe it.  But if you’re just going to spread it, no need to add the additional cup of confectioner’s sugar…)

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