Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze

Happy birthday to me!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

That’s right, it’s my birthday! The big 3-2 to be exact (ugh) but hey, at least I’m celebrating with Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze! And for someone that didn’t even plan what she wanted to do to celebrate until, ohhhhh, last week (thanks to lots of pressure from my hubs and friends,) I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start.

(I’m clearly on a big lavender kick right now – did you catch the Spiked Lavender Lemonade I posted on Friday? So refreshing and tasty!)

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

Is it just me, or is your 32nd birthday just sort of “meh?” I mean, I certainly went all out for the big 3-0, and might find some inspiration when I hit number 35, but it seems like all of the birthdays in between those milestones kind of just come and go without much pomp and circumstance. Especially when your birthday falls on a Wednesday, how un-fun is that?

So, after I kept getting nagged about what I wanted to do to celebrate, and after avoiding the question for as long as I could, I finally decided I wanted to keep it casual with Happy Hour at our local waterfront bar/restaurant, and let friends and family stop by whenever they wanted.  We celebrated with our parents this past weekend, and if you ask me, that’s all this gal needs to celebrate another trip around the sun!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

To be honest, I first made these Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze a few weeks ago, when I decided it was high time for me to add another cupcake recipe to this here blog. It has, after all, been almost exactly one year since I posted the only other cupcake recipe on this site – these Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream – which BTW would be perfect for you to whip up for St. Patrick’s Day on Friday!

I was trying to decide what flavor I wanted to make my cupcakes this time around, and remembered I had a big jar of culinary grade lavender that my parents had given me a while back. We all know that culinary grade lavender isn’t exactly something you reach for in your pantry on the reg, so it had been sitting in there practically untouched ever since I got it. I knew it would be perfect to integrate into a spring-friendly cupcake, but that it might need a little assistance from some other amazing flavors to keep it from tasting too much like soap (side note – this can easily happen if you use your lavender in the wrong context, like adding lavender syrup to your brewed coffee, don’t do it.)

Lucky for us, vanilla is a great complimentary flavor for lavender, and also perfect in cupcakes! I’ve talked about it before, but I swear by this creamy vanilla bean paste that I order on Amazon. It’s a little pricy, but you get a HUGE bottle and it lasts for such a long time! I highly recommend you order some if you bake nearly as much as I do.

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

With all of the soft, floral notes I was going for in the cupcakes, I knew I wanted a stark contrast in flavors for the frosting. I happened to still have quite a few blood oranges on hand from my winter stockpile, so instead of a buttercream or whipped cream frosting, I decided to top the cakes with a tart, blood orange glaze.

Turns out, my instincts were spot on and these cupcakes turned out perfectly balanced yet full of flavor. They’re also not overly sweet, which means you could totally get away with calling them muffins and eating them for breakfast. It’s my birthday after all, so I give you full permission. Cheers to another year and thanks for celebrating with me!

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

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Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |
Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Light and fluffy cupcakes filled with the delicate flavors of lavender and vanilla, perfectly contrasted by a tart blood orange glaze. 

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons culinary lavender, ground (I used a mortar and pestle for this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, milk, butter, eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined. 

  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, lavender, baking soda and salt, then add this mixture to the wet mixture, beating until just combined. 

  4. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop batter into cupcake pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before topping with the glaze. 

  5. While waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make the glaze. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth and no lumps remain. 

  6. Once cupcakes are cool, spoon glaze evenly over cupcake tops. Let glaze dry completely before serving. 

Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Blood Orange Glaze |

Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue

[This post is brought to you by yours truly and the wonderful folks at Drizly, who are making delicious cocktails possible for everyone without the hassle of going to a grocery store. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting CaliGirl Cooking and my sponsors!]

We have two reasons to be celebrating today! And we’re going to celebrate with a Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail.

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

REason #1

It’s Friday! Hallelujah. It’s been a long, weird week and I’m looking forward to some nice down time and relaxation this weekend. I’ve got some great beach volleyball games planned and other than that we’ll be laying reallll low (not like we have much of a choice with the hubby laid up with his healing Achilles 😉 That’s a-ok with me, though. I’m such a constant busy-body that sometimes it’s good for me to be forced to just sit down, relax, and not be doing anything. Can anyone else sympathize with me here?

Reason #2

I literally am so, so excited to share this Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail with you. I know I make cocktails for you every week, but every once in a while there’s one that comes along that just knocks my socks off and I get incredibly anxious to get the recipe out to you so you can start making it for yourself ASAP. This is FOR SURE one of those cocktails. It killed me that the hubs couldn’t taste it because he would be so proud. (He’s taking a little break from drinking while he’s on his after-surgery pain meds…good plan!)

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

When the folks at Drizly asked me to create a recipe for them, my mind immediately went towards creating a cocktail that would both celebrate the last few days of summer, but also welcome in fall with open arms. I thought a combination of blueberry (a very summer-y fruit) would pair deliciously with a heavier, more cool weather-inclined liquor. Enter bourbon! And, more specifically, Bulleit Bourbon (because that’s certainly our household favorite…What’s yours?)

But of course I couldn’t stop there. We needed to jazz this up even more for our friends at Drizly. Good thing they also have an incredible selection of bitters, mixers, etc. in addition to alcohol on their site, because I was easily able to pick out the Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters as the perfect addition to my blueberry and bourbon cocktail. The final touch was a vanilla-almond simple syrup, which I whipped up quickly on my own and have included the recipe for below.

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

I bet at this point (unless you’ve clicked on the link I’ve included above) you’re wondering what exactly this Drizly thing is. Well, friends, let me tell you, because it’s amazing. Basically, if you live in one of 18 major cities in the United States and Canada (and you’re of legal drinking age, of course), you can go to Drizly’s website, place an order, and have wine, beer, liquor and other cocktail ingredients delivered right to your door in under an hour. How sweet is that? I am so bummed they’re not in Santa Barbara….yet. (Hint hint.)

In Their Own Words:

“Drizly is the technology company powering a superior shopping experience for beer, wine and liquor. Combining the best selection and price, content-rich and personalized shopping experiences, and the speed and convenience of on-demand delivery, Drizly delivers “The Joy of Drinking” to legal-age drinkers across the United States.”

So as you can imagine, this was right up my alley and I was beyond stoked to partner with them to whip up this delicious Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue cocktail. Let’s get back to the whole process, shall we?

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

The first step you’ll want to take is to whip up the vanilla-almond simple syrup. This can be done an hour or so in advance of you making the cocktail, or you can even make it a day or two in advance (it will come in useful for so many delicious cocktails!) The most important thing is to have time to let the syrup cool before you add it to your drink.

Once you have your vanilla-almond simple syrup in hand, the rest is easy. You’ll just need to muddle together the syrup, some fresh blueberries, fresh lemon juice and rhubarb bitters, add a healthy scoop of ice, and top it all with your Bulleit bourbon. Give it a little stir and enjoy immediately.

I’m just going to call it right now: This cocktail will probably turn into your go-to for the next couple of months. It strikes that super-fine balance between the fresh flavors of summer and the warm, comforting flavors of fall. The juiciness of the blueberries and the acidity of the fresh lemon juice balance the earthy rhubarb bitters and sweet vanilla-almond simple syrup PERFECTLY. It’s fairly strong for a cocktail, but you’d never notice it if you didn’t look at the recipe. The natural sweetness from the blueberries is the perfect veil for the strong bourbon flavor, and (when enjoyed moderately) this cocktail won’t leave you with a raging headache the next day (no thank you, artificial sweeteners!)

Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue | CaliGirl Cooking

Trust me, the end of summer never tasted so good!

Bourbon, ‘Barb and Blue

10 minutes

Yield: Makes one cocktail

This end-of-summer cocktail combines fresh blueberries, rhubarb bitters, vanilla-almond simple syrup and bourbon to create a perfectly balanced drink.


  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 ounce vanilla-almond simple syrup (recipe below)
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce rhubarb bitters
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces Bulleit bourbon


  1. Combine blueberries, simple syrup, lemon juice and bitters in the bottom of a rocks glass. Muddle together until all of the blueberries are broken up and the mixture takes on a bright purple-pink hue.
  2. Fill the glass all the way to the top with ice.
  3. Top with bourbon and stir gently to combine.
  4. Enjoy immediately!


To make the Vanilla-Almond Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, the seeds from ½ a vanilla bean and about 2 drops of almond flavoring in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

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Bourbon, 'Barb and Blue |

You had me at bourbon <3

If you liked this recipe, you might also like:

Date “Shake”

We’re makin’ it through the Monday blues.

Date "Shake" | CaliGirl Cooking

And this healthy take on a Date Shake is going to help us get there. I have to admit, I created this recipe out of my own selfishness. Who here’s been to Palm Springs? Who here’s been lucky enough to visit Oasis Date Gardens on said trip to Palm Springs? Me! Me!

Now, we all know that this Power Protein Smoothie has been our “go-to” smoothie since, well, forever, but hold on tight folks because we’re about to totally shake things up (haha, pun intended.) We may have found another favorite.

Date "Shake" | CaliGirl Cooking

If you have been to Oasis Date Gardens, you’re so welcome because today I am sharing my healthy take on their extremely tasty, yet extremely indulgent Date Shake. If you have not visited this little slice of paradise, consider yourself even luckier that I am introducing you to this healthy version that is totally acceptable to make every day (and for breakfast!) before you get your booty down there and taste the real deal. Once we go down healthy Date “Shake” lane, we’ll at least be able to satisfy our cravings (and waistlines!) if we can’t head to Palm Springs every weekend.

The classic Date Shake (from the Gardens themselves) is, as far as I can tell, a glorious mixture of vanilla soft serve ice cream and chopped dates, mixed up using a machine similar to what we see McDonald’s using for their McFlurry’s. It seems so simple, yet it is such a special treat, especially when they’re using some of the freshest, most delicious dates I have ever tasted in my life (we’re talking sooooo far from anything you buy at a grocery store…plump, juicy, caramelly sweet…BRB I’m going to go grab some out of the refrigerator right now to shove in my mouth as I’m writing this.)

Date "Shake" | CaliGirl Cooking

For my Date “Shake,” we’re upping the healthy ante so we can drink this every day and feel so good about all of the nutrients we’re putting into our body. Not only do we get the classic Date Shake flavors of vanilla and dates, we also get an anti-inflammatory dose of turmeric and cinnamon. Frozen bananas, Greek yogurt and unsweetened vanilla almond milk lend the creaminess we’d typically get from the soft-serve, with sooo many fewer calories.

We throw everything into our trusty Vitamix blender and, voila! We have our healthy Date “Shake” made in under 10 minutes flat. Perfect for a rushed weekday morning! (Just remember to pre-freeze the bananas the night before.)

Date "Shake" | CaliGirl Cooking

So, what do you think? Ready to give this a shot? We have about five pounds of dates sitting in our refrigerator, so I know this Date “Shake” is going to be on a very regular rotation in our household.

Don’t forget, if you make this, snap a photo and share it on social media using #caligirlcooking. I love to see all of your creations!

Date "Shake"

Yield: Makes 2 smoothies

A healthy take on a Palm Springs favorite - the Date Shake!


  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup ice (or frozen pineapple chunks)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses and serve!
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Date "Shake" | CaliGirl Cooking

Them dates tho!

Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup

Oh, for the love of peppermint.

Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup | CaliGirl Cooking

I am quite the fan of this version of minty goodness and yes, I have been known to order a peppermint latte at Starbucks even in the middle of spring. Don’t judge. There is just something so refreshing and cozy about it. Need a cup of comfort? Peppermint tea coming right up.

But since we are at the height of the holidays right now (oh hey Christmas in less than a week!), and I’m not sure all of you readers are quite as peppermint-crazed as I am to enjoy it throughout the entire year, I figure now is a completely appropriate time to share this recipe for Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup, right? Right.Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup | CaliGirl Cooking

I came up with this idea because, even though I love the flavored syrups all that all of our favorite coffee chains use to flavor their warm drinks, I always have to ask for like HALF of a pump in my orders. They are just too, too sweet and I’m sure they are probably full of so many artificial ingredients that my body us like “WTH?” whenever I down one.

Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup | CaliGirl Cooking

That, and the fact that nowadays I honestly don’t get out to Starbucks or Peet’s that much. I put a big pot of coffee on as soon as I wake up in the morning and the next thing you know I’m off to work with my little Contigo travel mug (love them, BTW) and by the time I’m headed home it is way too late to consume any caffeinated beverages and all I really want to do is go put on my stretchy pants and make dinner.

So, because of my completely unexciting daily routine, I decided I wanted to have my own version of peppermint syrup to add to my standard coffee in the mornings and really make it feel like some of my favorite holiday beverages, hence my Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup was born. The one best thing about this is that I completely control the ingredients, so I know exactly what I’m putting in my body. The other best thing is that I can also control how much I add to my coffee. Some days I may feel like a little extra sweetness, but most of the time it’s just the touch of peppermint that I really enjoy.

And making this is way easier than you might think: mix up a batch of simple syrup and start heating it on the stove; once it starts to bubble just a tiny bit, add the vanilla bean, peppermint extract and candy canes (for  that pretty red color!) Let it simmer for a bit for everything to meld together, and there you have it!

Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup | CaliGirl Cooking

I must also say that the delicious Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup is good for so much more than coffee. You can add it to hot chocolate too, and maybe even use it in a holiday cocktail of some sort? It’s very versatile and a great addition to anything that you want to add a little holiday flavor to.

I’m keeping it short today because this is such a special time of year and I really want to focus on being “present” with family and friends, but I hope you all have a wonderful last few days leading up to Christmas and I’ll check in one more time before the big day to share an ultra-special cocktail recipe with you! Hugs.

Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups of syrup

This Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup is the perfect addition to our (necessary) holiday caffeine fix and any hot or cold drink that you simply want to make more festive!



  1. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, whisking continuously. Add vanilla bean seeds, peppermint extract and candy canes.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes (candy canes should be almost if not all the way melted at this point.)
  3. Pour through a sieve (to remove any large clumps) into a small glass jar or pitcher. Let cool. Syrup can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
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Peppermint Vanilla Bean Coffee Syrup | CaliGirl Cooking

Pepperminty delicious madness.