Tarragon tastes sort of like anise and pairs well with chocolate. I was eager to try the two together in a cupcake. I decided to use a basic chocolate cupcake base (I used the Magnolia devil’s food recipe because I wanted to try it) and added fresh tarragon to that. I guessed at a tablespoon of the chopped herb, but the taste was very subtle. Hence I decided to get tarragon in the frosting as well. All-in-all, I still couldn’t taste enough of the tarragon for my liking. I would have topped each with a fresh tarragon leaf if I had any handy.

A side note: The frosting calls for a tarragon infused simple syrup; this is the first time I have made some. I must say that it is extremely tasty and I could see it being a great addition to herbal ice teas, vodka based drinks, and homemade ice cream… same as the lavender simple syrup. Yum.

Lastly, the devil’s food recipe was fine, but a little drier than I expected. Baking is temperamental though, so it might work out better for others (or next time, in my case).

Cupcakes adapted from Magnolia’s devil’s food recipe
48 mini-cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated and at room temp
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

1. sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, set aside
2. in a separate small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, about 2 minutes
3. in the bowl of the electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes
4. add egg yolks, beating until well combined
5. add the melted chocolate, mix until combined
6. add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating after each addition until smooth
7. in another bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form
8. fold the egg whites into the batter gently, fold in the fresh tarragon
9. pipe into lined mini-cupcake tins with a pastry bag
10. bake at 350 degree oven (325 convection) for ~12 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

filling mini cupcake tins

Tarragon-Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2-3 bunches of tarragon
12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. heat sugar and water over medium-high heat, stirring until dissolved
2. add tarragon bunches, stir in and let boil until syrupy, about 3 minutes
3. set aside and let cool, then strain out tarragon
4. bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
5. sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
6. beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
7. add half of the sugar and beat until combined
8. drizzle in tarragon simple syrup at low speed
9. gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

fresh tarragon


1. pipe a dollop of frosting on to each of the cooled cupcakes
2. [optional] top with a fresh tarragon leaf

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