Those of you who have read my book, or have visited this blog, know that I pride myself in using natural products in my baked goods, and that includes no artificial coloring. If you peruse other posts on this blog, you can easily find me berating blue cakes. But recently, something happened in my kitchen that produced a blue cake, and I feel like I owe an apology to the color blue.
What happened was this: a friend bought me a big bottle of Bigallet French violet syrup. This family-owned company has been making naturally derived floral syrups for baking and cocktail mixing for over a century. (I’ll admit here that they actually add color to their syrup; but distilled violet water turns pink, strangely enough, and most consumers want purple violet syrups and liqueurs, understandably.)
Anyway, I have been talking about wanting to make a violet frosting for a chocolate cake since 2010, when I had a violet mousse at Carl Marletti Patiserries in the Latin Quarter in Paris (if you have a chance go there, don’t miss it). That year everything in France seemed to be about violets, including macaroons and jams. And I was crazy for all of it.
After receiving the violet syrup, I had a chance to make that cake, and I have to tell you: it was fabulous. Two tablespoons is all you need in a batch of plain frosting (3 sticks butter + 3 cups sifted powdered sugar). Is was light and floral and smelled faintly of violets. Quite elegant. I made it for a friend’s baby shower, and since she is expecting a boy, I thought it would be fun to make a purple cake in order to eschew any corny references to the pale pink and baby blue we so often see at baby showers.
But the violet syrup tends to make everything a ghostly pale lavender, closer to grey, and the only thing I find more disturbing than a bright blue cake is a grey cake. So I added some natural food coloring—unfortunately, I was out of red, so I could only add blue—and I ended up with a baby blue frosting so pretty, I just had to share it with you. I’ve also shared links to the french bakery, as well as the violet syrup and natural food coloring I prefer (my links appear in bold font). To get my favorite chocolate cake recipe, click here. And let it be known from this day forward: some blue cakes are just downright beautiful.