A moist cupcake kissed with lavender surrounds a juicy blackberry to create the perfect summer dessert.
Lavender is the Paul McCartney of herbs: both make me swoon. I love lavender’s color, scent, and taste. Although Sir Paul is completely out of my reach, I can indulge my love of lavender with these Luscious Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes. The dried lavender flowers and fresh blackberries provide a taste of summer’s best.
Two things make these cupcakes so special. First, a baker of any skill can achieve this boutique bakery result because the recipe starts with a boxed white cake mix. Second, the lavender comes from a local farm in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Tenderloin Farms has been part of southern Illinois for over 100 years. Sisters Kim Hansen and Kris Straub’s great grandfather, John Henry Stahlhut, started the farm in 1917. Over the years, the family raised dairy cows and hogs, plus corn and beans. The animals are gone but the corn and beans remain, and the sisters added the lavender a few years ago.
The sisters cultivated 1,000 lavender plants, both French and English varieties, and opened the you-pick field to the public in June 2021. There’s also a renovated barn that serves as the farm’s shop and a greenhouse from which visitors can select a lavender plant to try growing at home.
Lavender’s season is relatively short, but after the blooms have been harvested, there are patches of wildflowers at the farm throughout the summer to enjoy. Great spot for family photos or a picnic.
Tenderloin Farms is one of just three lavender farms about an hour or less from St. Louis. In the city, Seeds of Grace lavender farm is operated by the College Hill Foundation and provides beauty and a few jobs for this challenged neighborhood. West of the city is Longrow Lavender that, like Tenderloin Farms, offers you-pick options plus a shop. I'll bet there's a lavender farm near you, too.
But back to cupcakes. Because the batter utilizes a white cake mix and a few secrets, a baker of any skill can impress with these big and beautiful creations. The cupcake has a sturdy crumb and the blackberry is a delightful surprise in the center, providing an extra flavor bomb.
To make my Luscious Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes, which makes 10 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
1 (15.25-ounce) white cake mix
¼ cup melted better
1 egg plus two egg whites
¾ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons water
1½ teaspoons dried lavender flowers
1 teaspoon vanilla
20 fresh blackberries
Using a hand-held mixer, add cake mix, melted butter, water, and yogurt to the bowl. Mix on a lower speed until combined, then add the egg and two egg whites one at a time. Add vanilla and mix for about 3 minutes on medium. The batter will be slightly thicker than a cake batter (it won’t pour).
To pick the flowers off the lavender stems, hold the stem in one hand and using your index finger and thumb, run along the head of the flower pinching off the buds. They come off easily and in no time, you’ll have the 1½ teaspoons. This amount of lavender flavored the batter with lovely floral notes. If you want less lavender, just use 1 teaspoon. (Tenderloin Farm advises to steep the stems with tea for added flavor. It worked!)
Put the buds in a small bowl of warm water and let them bloom for a minute or two before draining and folding into the cupcake batter.
Line a cupcake pan with large liners (smaller cupcake liners also are fine to use, but the cupcakes won’t turn out as big). Add a heaping tablespoon to each cup and nestle one blackberry in the middle. Fill the rest of the liners ¾ full.
I was fortunate to get locally grown blackberries from another southern Illinois farm (Eckerts). Each one looked like a perfect jewel. Unlike what's usually at my grocer, these berries were super sweet and very large.
Place the cupcake pan on a baking sheet (to catch any spills and protect the bottoms from over browning) and bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 18 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely to the touch before frosting. I love traditional buttercream on a cupcake. You probably have a favorite recipe, but it’s generally 1 cup unsalted butter (softened), 3 cups powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of milk or cream. The ingredients are creamed together using a mixer, adding the sugar one cup at a time. But for these Luscious Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes, use one drop of purple food coloring. If you don’t have purple in the pantry, start with several drops of red and two drops of blue. Then sprinkle the tops with additional lavender buds (just a few) and top with a blackberry.
Kitchen confession: My buttercream separated, and I should have made another batch. But I didn’t have an additional 3 cups sugar, so I couldn’t scrape off the frosting and start over! It wasn’t “Instagram worthy,” but the taste was adequate. You, I’m sure, will turn out a perfect frosting.
Of course, another idea is to buy prepared frosting and add the purple food coloring. Honestly, I’ll do that next time.
How do I store these lavender cupcakes?
Put the cupcakes in a taller airtight container. A cake carrier will work beautifully! The cupcakes can be stored for up to three days.
Can you freeze the cupcakes?
Absolutely. Place unfrosted, cooled cupcakes in a zip-top freezer bag. When ready to serve, unzip the bag and allow the cupcakes to thaw at room temperature before frosting.
Luscious Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes would be a delightful addition to a summer bridal or baby shower. Bring some along to a romantic picnic or just enjoy one with a glass of iced tea in the afternoon. Let me know how yours turned out!
Looking for more easy dessert recipes? Check these out!
About the blog
Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.