One of my favorite aspects of living in the Northeast is the changing of the seasons. Having been born and raised in Southern California, most of my life I experienced only two seasons: Spring and Summer. I know, I know… I’m sure many of you are 🙄rolling your eyes at me right now if you live somewhere with intense heat/humidity or tens of feet of snow and never-ending months of bitter cold in the winter. And I get it – Southern California hands down has the most enviable weather in the world.
But after leaving that most coveted climate for dramatic seasonal changes, I can’t deny my love for those transitions. As corny as it may sound, the changes in season here on the east coast are truly spiritual to me. Watching beautiful vibrantly green trees morph into breathtaking fiery colors, and then eventually shed all signs of life, fall asleep into a winter hibernation, withstanding bitter cold and wind, threats from snow and ice, and appear to have lost all hope in their dismal gray last breath – only to begin to awaken a few months later and birth new shoots, new leaves, new flowers, new life.
This cycle is so personally moving and so deeply inspiring to me. It is undeniably one of the many reasons I have fallen in love with the northeast.
And so, here we are in the swing of Spring! There are daffodils and cherry blossoms and tree sprouts all around, and I can’t help but give in to the tulips that scream my name to greet me at my local Trader Joe’s. I would take them all home if I had the room and expendable money.
Inspired to sing, dance and laugh in yesterday’s sunlight and 60° weather, my husband and I ventured outside to soak in the warmth, and of course, run a few errands. By the time we returned, I was ready to get in the kitchen and make something new, something delightful – something to match my mood.
I baked a cake! Not just any cake… I took from a few different recipes, made a few adjustments, and voila – I baked a new classic for my baking shortlist: Chocolate Beet Cake with Lavender Buttercream Frosting.
You read that right – BEETS AND LAVENDER.
A wonderful friend of mine introduced me to the chocolate beet cake, which was so light and yet so spongy (I won’t say the “M” word for those of you crazies who can’t take it 🙉) and silky, not overly sweet and all around perfect. I made my own tweaks to the recipe and was beyond happy with the results. There’s no beet flavor at all, so fear not any non-fans of beets. Fortunately for me, I looooooove beets…
The lavender addition was inspired by my fond memories while living in LA, where the first (of now, many) Scoops artisanal ice cream shop opened in the mid-2000’s in the Silverlake neighborhood. They served homemade unimaginable flavors, like Yerba Mate & Fig, Coffee & Guinness, and my personal favorite, Chocolate & Lavender. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to combine chocolate and lavender somewhere, somehow. And so my lavender buttercream frosting was born.
For the last few years, my amazing sister has been persuading me of the health benefits behind essential oils, lavender being one of them. I bought a number of essential oils and began using them for aches and pains, to help with sleep and for their general beautiful aromas and relaxing effects. And I too have also experienced those health benefits myself – deeper uninterrupted sleep, natural remedies for achy muscles and dry skin, improved digestion. But essential oils are also fantastic in food – win win!
So as I was planning my cake baking afternoon, I knew I had to incorporate the lavender oil in the frosting. Note: If you choose to use lavender oil, I strongly recommend using a food-grade lavender oil, which means it is high quality that can be used in cooking or baking. I prefer doTerra lavender essential oil. If you prefer using dried lavender, be sure to use CULINARY lavender. But be forewarned: the biggest challenge is making sure not to overpower the flavor – lavender in any form is extremely potent, especially as an ingredient in food. Just a little bit goes a long way, and too much tastes terribly medicinal and grossly floral. Not at all pleasant on the palette.
Again: just a tiny tiny bit of lavender is all you need to transform a simple buttercream frosting into a delicate and unique experience. You may never look at your humble lavender soap, lavender air freshener or lavender tea the same way.
And I truly hope your memories of this luscious chocolate beet cake with lavender buttercream frosting are as inspiring as my first unforgettable chocolate and lavender encounter, as stirring as a new spring day.
Yes, as sentimental as that sounds.
Chocolate Beet Cake with Lavender Buttercream Frosting
- 4 medium beets or 6-7 small beets
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 c sugar
- 1/2 c unsweetened Dutch-process or European cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 c warm water
- 1/4 c avocado oil (or canola oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- canola oil cooking spray
- 1 c unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 c sifted powdered sugar (+ 1/4 c if needed for consistency preference) – make sure to sift to remove clumps!
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 TB heavy cream
- 1/2 DROP of lavender essential oil (or 1 tsp dried culinary lavender, finely chopped)
- Chocolate Beet Cake
- Lavender Buttercream Frosting
- Chocolate Beet Cake
- Lavender Buttercream Icing
**Final note: I actually used a 7″ springform cake pan for this cake, which is certainly doable, but it requires a longer bake time – closer to an hour+. If you use a springform pan, after 45 minutes in the oven check the batter with a toothpick every 5-10 minutes until the center of the cake is completely cooked. Using a springform pan is a bit risky, but definitely works too.
Now that Spring has sprung, to what do you look forward the most with this season of blooms, showers, warmer temperatures and reborn colors?
♥ – G2GS