Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lavender Blackberry Cheesecake

How many ways are there to bake with lavender?  Lots.  Here is another recipe where I used my handpicked lavender!  I combined a few different recipes to make something with what I had in the fridge.  I also went for our smaller cheesecake pan (the 7 inch) which is a much better size for just four people.  The result- new favorite cheesecake.  Make one, do it.

I went a graham cracker crust, a lavender cheesecake, and a lavender-blackberry sour cream topping.  It's a couple different steps, and you do have to put it back in the oven after adding each element, so it does take a bit of time to make the finished product.  But it's worth it.

Graham Cracker Crust
from The Joy of Cheesecake
Makes enough for a 9-in pan
(if you are making a 7-in pan like I did, you will have leftovers- that's ok)

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Press the crumb mixture evenly along the bottom of a pre-greased springform pan, and about 1'' up each side.  Bake for 5-10 minutes.  Let cool before adding filling.

Lavender Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms for 7-inch pan

4 ounces heavy cream
2 tsp dried lavender buds
14 ounces cream cheese
2.5 ounces sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine lavender and heavy cream in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Immediately remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.  Strain cream and discard lavender.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until very smooth- approximately 3 minutes.  Add lavender-infused heavy cream and continue to mix for an additional 3 minutes on medium-high, or until smooth. Whisk eggs and sugar in a separate bowl.  Add to cream mixture and gently beat until smooth.

Pour into pre-baked crust in springform pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until set.  It is best to also place a large pan filled with water 1 rack below the cheesecake to allow for humidity in the oven during baking.  This reduces the chance of your cheesecake developing cracks.

Blackberry Lavender Topping
Adapted from The Joy of Cheesecake
makes enough for 1 7-inch cheesecake

1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp lavender sugar (or just use regular sugar and add a few lavender buds)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 blackberries

Preheat oven to 450°.

Muddle blackberries, set aside.  Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Add blackberries, a bit at a time, until desired color and flavor are reached.

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until set.

When your cheesecake is done you should allow it to slowly cool in order to prevent cracks.  I left mine in the turned-off oven with the door propped open until the oven reached room temperature.  When the cheesecake is cooled to room temperature you should put it in the fridge- still in the pan though.  You can take it out of the pan after a few hours in the fridge, just run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan first.  And there you have it- a lovely lavender cheesecake!

Bon Appetit

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Orange and Ginger Beer Cupcakes

Sometimes I still like to play dress up.  On this particular day my baking buddies and I had decided to go retro and dress up 50's style.  We were having trouble figuring out a cupcake to match our theme, when I stumbled upon a cute, retro-looking can of ginger beer in the fridge.  One of my friends suggested adding orange, and thus the Orange and Ginger Beer Cupcakes were born.  The flavors go incredibly well together.

Orange Ginger Beer Cupcakes
adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes • makes 12

1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp club soda
3/4 cup ginger beer
2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add eggs one at a time.  Once combined, add orange zest.

In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder.  Sprinkle with club soda and mix.  Combine orange juice and ginger beer in a measuring cup.  Alternate adding wet and dry mixtures to the butter/sugar mix, beginning and ending with dry.  Mix well after each addition.  Distribute batter between 12 cupcake liners.  Bake in pan for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Orange Buttercream
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes generously

1 stick butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp milk or half and half

Beat butter in electric mixer on high for several minutes until creamy.  Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  After 2 cups of sugar have been added, add milk, orange juice, and zest.  Continue adding sugar until desired sweetness is reached.

We enjoyed our cupcakes with a glass of mint lemonade and retro napkins.  Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lavender Honey Cupcakes

So as witnessed by my previous post about my adventures on Lavender Hill Farms, I have a bit of lavender kicking around my kitchen.  Well obviously I had to make cupcakes.

One of my good friends had found this recipe from Kitchen Chronicles awhile ago, and we had already been planning on making them.  It was even better to know that I had fresh, hand picked lavender to use!

The cupcakes came out beautifully.  They didn't rise too much in the cups, so I probably would fill them a bit more next time and only make 10 or so rather than the 12 the recipe calls for.  Other than that they were absolutely perfect.  The lavender adds such a special and unique flavor, and the honey cream cheese frosting is to die for.

And by the way, they go fantastically with a good cup of espresso.