Inspiration can be surprising and happy–and years in the making. Even for something simple like a (Lemon Lavender Shortbread) cookie.
This particular idea began two summers ago, when my oldest had a summer job at a natural restaurant (the Wild Tomato) in a local tourist town. One day, after a lovely summer lunch, we I split a lemon lavender cupcake and were enraptured. The goal of developing my own lavender dessert went right on my “to do” list.
When Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations did her 2011 picnic game I recognized a golden opportunity. If I could just get the letter L, I would have a deadline! Three failed recipes later, I used limes…
This year Claire of Promenade Plantings did a lavender shortbread. That set the wheels turning again. This time (though not until my second attempt), I was successful!
Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies
(Makes about 9-12 cookies, consider doubling if you are not dieting )
- 1/2 c butter
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 1/3 c flour
- 1 T lavender
- 1/4 t lemon zest
1. A day (or more) ahead of time, infuse the lavender into the sugar. Combine the two in a sealed container and let sit overnight for the sugar to pick up the lavender flavor. (I believe that this is one of the things that went wrong in some of my earlier attempts. It gets you more lavender flavor using less lavender which can have a bitter edge if you overdo it)
2. On baking day, cream the butter and lavender sugar mixture. Add the lemon zest.
3. Blend in the flour a little at a time. If you are using a cookie stamp, be careful not to overmix.
4. To form the cookies, there are a couple possible methods. For the easiest one, press the shortbread into a 8 or 9 inch square pan and pack down. For a slightly dressier cookie using a cookie stamp, form a piece of dough into a one inch ball, then flatten with a cookie stamp. Or you can even combine the two methods.
5. Bake cookies at 325 for 15-20 minutes until just starting to brown. Shortbread molded in a pan will need to go longer, approximately 30 minutes.
Lavender is a flower that is used regularly as a culinary herb. Claire grew her own lavender (!) while mine came from Frontier Herbs, where I order most of my herbs and spices (through one of my buying clubs). Lavender essential oil– and sometimes the flower petals–is used frequently in natural bodycare preparations like soaps and lotions, and my youngest declared that my first recipe “tasted like soap” though the adults like it. For the final version, I cut down the lavender and added lemon zest, and it passed muster all around.
The cookie stamps, from Rycraft, are a cute idea, though I am still working on getting the technique right. My first recipe (which I even took off the company website) had too much butter so there was no design left after baking. I looked for a new recipe with more flour and had more luck (designs were actually slightly better than in the photographs). Next time I think I’ll chill the dough after I mix it and again after I press the cookies to try for a design that is even crisper.
I’ll definitely have occasion to bake soon. My oldest (co-discoverer of the inspirational cupcake) has asked me to send her a batch at college for her birthday. I guess I owe her that!