Lemon-palooza is back in full swing! And it brought a friend! It would appear the lavender is this season’s bacon in that it is all the rage and popping up everywhere: in lemonade, in creme brulee, in beer, everywhere! Let us embrace it and become altogether consumed by the fad for an indeterminate amount of time.
I’ve been eager to jump on the lavender bandwagon (I envision this particular wagon as having a lavender-colored canopy and being a Conestoga-style wagon pulled by cheerful oxen) for quite some time, so I was delighted when I came across several different lavender vendors at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. As was to be expected, each vendor supplied all manner of lavender-scented treasures, and one even had culinary lavender for sale. Having had several lavender recipes on my mind, I purchased some and went on my merry way. Later that day, my party happened upon Cupcake Royale, Seattle’s original cupcake bakery. Of course, cupcakes were purchased, quickly consumed, and deeply enjoyed. I chose to indulge in a lavender cupcake, while my dear mama enjoyed a lemon mascarpone cupcake. We both sampled each other’s cupcakes, and, not surprisingly, we came to the mutual agreement that they were both divine.
Afterwards, while reflecting on this culinary experience, I thought, why haven’t these two flavors been combined into one super-cupcake?! That said, I have made it so! The best of both worlds have been brought together into one yellow and purple treasure-trove of lively spring flavors! The mascarpone frosting isn’t as sweet as one may be used to, but it is, nonetheless, quite delightful. The addition of lemon curd gives the cake a fantastic texture and flavor which all are sure to love. So, let’s bake this bad boy up and make it so!
Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Mascarpone Frosting
Cupcakes adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Frosting adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 8 cupcakes
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbs. lemon curd (store-bought or make your own)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp.-1 Tbs. culinary lavender, ground (adjust to taste)
2 drops purple food coloring (optional)
2 medium mixing bowls
1 whisk or electric hand mixer
1 cupcake pan
8 paper cupcake cups
1 cooling rack
1 pastry bag (or use Ziploc frosting bag trick)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, lemon curd, vanilla, melted butter) and stir until well combined. Gradually add salt, baking powder, and sugar, thoroughly mixing into wet ingredients. About 1/4 cup at a time, add flour, and stir batter until well combined. Fill each cupcake cup 2/3 full with lemon cupcake batter.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning them out onto the cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to cool on rack for 30-45 minutes, until they are room temperature.
To make the lavender mascarpone frosting, mix the mascarpone with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Gradually, about 2 tablespoons at a time, add the heavy whipping cream. Quickly whip the mixture until stiff peaks form (about 3-5 minutes). Gradually, about 1/8 cup at a time, add the powdered sugar and ground lavender. Finally, if using food coloring, add and stir until just until the entire mixture is purple. Allow the frosting to chill for about 30 minutes before using.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry or Ziploc bag to frost the cooled cupcakes. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes in a circular pattern. You may also spread the frosting atop the cupcakes with a spatula if you like.