Award Winning Lemon Lavender Cookies
With a buttery texture and a lightly floral flavor, these Lemon Lavender Cookies are a fun new take on shortbread.
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Lemon Lavender Shortbread and I go way back. In fact I won 3rd place in the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair with (more or less) this recipe!
But it’s been a long time since I’d made it and the pretty mold I used for that was AWOL. Time for something new! And to help I got some lovely stencils to review from a company called Stencil Revolution. They make high quality stencils that are both food safe and tough enough to stand up to paint remover!
You see, I am always looking for ways to make my cookies look impressive–even though I have no decorating talent. As in zero. In this quest, I have made embossed roller funfetti cookies, cookie flooded fall leaf sugar cookies, and stained glass Christmas cookies.
Where there’s a will there’s a way! Though of course the decorating is optional and they’ll be delicious even plain!
Why You’ll Love This!
Flavorful. With it’s sweet buttery flavor, shortbread is a cookie classic! The lemon and lavender provide beautiful highlights that make it even more special!
Lower Sugar. Even though it’s sweet and tasty, this shortbread is lower in sugar than most cookies. Always a win!
Easy. Shortbread, in it’s simplest form, is one of the easiest cookies to make. And even if you make a fancier design like the stenciled one, it’s still not hard!
What You’ll Need
- Flour. This provides the bulk of the cookie.
- Cornstarch. This gives the characteristic “melty” texture to the shortbread cookies.
- Lavender paste. This gives the lavender flavor. Dried culinary lavender is another option and I have instructions for using that too.
- Lemon. To zest for the lemon flavor highlights. You could also use a drop or two of a good lemon extract.
- Butter. This helps hold the cookie together and provides the characteristic buttery flavor.
- Sugar. This adds sweetness and a little volume.
- Powdered sugar. This provides the sweetness and the volume for the icing.
- Meringue powder. I used Wilton. This gives you a light, quick drying icing without worrying about food safety using raw egg (and it’s easier).
- Water. This thins the icing to a workable consistency.
- Clear vanilla (optional). Clear vanilla is always an artificial flavor but it is useful for achieving a very white color like this. As such, the flavor tends to suffer and I usually try to avoid. But in this case a little clear vanilla did help the royal icing flavor. I’d omit rather than use regular vanilla–the cookie still has enough flavor.
- Purple luster dust. Provides the color for the stencil design. I used Wilton Lilac Purple.
- Stencil. This is used to create the design.
- Dusting Brush. To apply the color.
- Rolling pin. To roll out the cookies
- Microplane. To get a very fine zest from the lemons (and virtually no bitter white pith).
Step by Step Directions
How to make the cookies
If using lavender buds, 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.
On baking day, preheat oven to 325 F. Cream the butter and lavender sugar mixture. Add the lemon zest.
Blend in the cornstarch and flour a little at a time.
The mixture is thick, so I finished mixing by hand.
Knead the dough a couple times to finish mixing, then roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 – ¼ inch thick.
Bake, then cool.
How to top with Royal Icing
Mix icing ingredients on medium low speed adjusting amount of water as needed. Let rest 15-30 minutes to help bubbles escape.
Dip cookies in the icing, then let icing harden, at least a few hours but ideally overnight.
How to Stencil a Cookie
After royal icing has hardened, put a few drops of a liquid (I used lemon extract) and a little luster dust in a small bowl or dish. Using a brush like on a palate, mix a little of each together into a thin mixture (without clumps).
Holding the stencil flat, dab the stencil openings with the luster dust mixture until your desired color is achieved. Set the cookie aside to dry.
How to Achieve a Beautiful Lavender Flavor
These Lemon Lavender Cookies are just one in a series of similar recipes. Yes, since I’m fairly obsessed with lavender flavor (check out my Honey Lavender Scones or my No Churn Lavender Ice Cream), I can tell you a few ways to achieve it!
Using Culinary Lavender. A decade ago when I first started using lavender flavors, it wasn’t as popular as today. And my only real option was to use dried lavender buds. The first challenge with lavender buds was getting enough flavor before their bitter undertones kicked in. The second was distributing that throughout the baked good.
To achieve this, I mixed the lavender buds with the sugar the day before (or at least a few hours) so the sugar would absorb the lavender flavor (“infuse”). The next day I mixed it all into the recipe. While I generally prefer the paste today (see below), this is still a great option where you want to see the buds or if you might also use lavender in sachets or bath products.
Lavender Paste. Since then I’ve discovered a very natural flavored lavender paste that’s a lot easier. You just add it like you’d add vanilla, no advance work required!
Lavender Syrup. There’s also a nice Torani lavender syrup, though that would add too much liquid for this recipe. But it’s perfect in a Lavender Lemonade (or Lavender Tom Collins below)!
If you don’t want to try making your lemon lavender cookies stenciled with a lavender sprig (or just can’t wait until your stencil arrives), here are some other options.
First, you could simply roll these out like I do but leave them unfrosted and undecorated. In fact when I gave one of these to a friend, she remarked, “you wouldn’t even need to frost these.”
But to stay on the fancy side, you can go for a different look. Stencil Revolution has some Christmas ornament cookie stencils that I will be using come November (and a really cool spiderweb for Halloween). Next November I’m planning some edible “ornament” cookies and also some actual hang-on-the-tree ornaments decorated with these stencils. (Subscribe, above right, to make sure you don’t miss this!)
Of course the simplest way to make shortbread is to press into a pan, score where you will cut it into pieces and prick with a fork. This is the classic homemade shortbread (flavored with vanilla rather than lavender) that I grew up eating.
And finally, you can use a mold or cookie press as I did with the original.
All cute and tasty. Not to mention easy (sshhh)!
These Lemon Lavender Cookies will stay good for a couple weeks in an airtight container. I actually tested this saving some of them for my oldest daughter (who studied in Scotland and is both a lavender and shortbread addict).
The undecorated cookies can be frozen, separated by parchment but I don’t know how the decorations would fare. If you have experience with this I’d love to hear in the comments.
Tips & FAQs
Stenciling is easiest on a flat surface, so you don’t want to do it on a cookie with much rise. This is another way shortbread shines.
This isn’t food related but it is a GREEN tip. I’ve always loved the polish that wallpaper can provide to your home décor–and my father taught my husband and I to do this ourselves when we were first married. But the most durable papers are at least part vinyl and I’m no longer sure I want to breathe in the products of any possible outgassing.
But the Stencil Revolution website has some examples of stenciled walls that are as beautiful as the nicest wallpaper! Hmm, low VOC paint is easy to find, a whole lot cheaper than wallpaper and repainting doesn’t scare off homebuyers like removing wallpaper.
So now I’m just looking for a good accent wall to try this out on!
Award Winning Lemon Lavender Cookies
With a buttery texture and a lightly floral flavor, these Lemon Lavender Cookies are a fun new take on shortbread.
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon lavender paste (or 1 Tablespoon dried culinary lavender)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons meringue powder
- 4-6 Tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla (ideally clear)
- Purple luster dust
If using culinary lavender buds, a day ahead of time, infuse the lavender into the sugar as follows: combine the two in a sealed container and let sit overnight for the sugar to pick up the lavender flavor.
On baking day, preheat oven to 325 F. Cream the butter and lavender sugar mixture or the butter, sugar and lavender paste. Add the lemon zest.
Blend the cornstarch and flour together and add to the butter mixture a little at a time. The mixture is thick, so I finish mixing by hand.
Knead the dough a couple times to finish mixing, then roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 – ¼ inch thick. Cut with a round cutter.
Bake at 325 F for 10-15 minutes until set with just a hint of browning.
Let cookies cool completely before icing them. Or if you'd like you can stop here and eat them undecorated!
To make and apply the royal icing:
Using a mixer at low to medium speed, beat together powdered sugar, meringue powder, 4 Tablespoons water and vanilla, until smooth and fluffy. Don’t beat at too high a speed or you’ll risk incorporating a lot of larger air bubbles.
You will want to achieve a thinner consistency that can be dipped into but not so thin it doesn’t dry. If the icing is too thick, stir in more water a teaspoon at a time, by hand. If the icing is too thin, add a little more sugar.
Let the icing sit for 15-30 minutes for bubbles to escape. You can tap the bowl on the counter to assist in this.
Dip each cookie top in the royal, letting excess drip off, and turning to catch final drips (the drip will level when you set the cookie down). Set cookies on plate or rack to dry. If there are some air bubbles, you can prick with a tooth pick to remove (some may disappear too). Let sit until completely dry, at least a couple hours but ideally overnight. Drying time will vary based on the wetness of the icing.
To apply stencil:
In a small dish or bowl, put a few drops of a liquid (I used lemon extract) and a little luster dust. Using a brush like on a palate, mix a little of each together into a thin mixture without clumps.
Hold the stencil on top of the icing as flat as possible. Dab the stencil openings with the luster dust mixture until your desired color is achieved. Remove stencil and set the cookie aside to dry.
Originally published Sep 15, 2012.
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Stylish cookies ✨
Very artistic, love that painted pattern on top. It made it look elegant
Thanks for the recipe!
How much lavender paste should I use? I want to buy some and give it a try?
What did you do differently for your state fair version? Simply not stencil?
Is there a certain brand of luster dust you like? Great idea to use lemon extract with it❣️
Can’t wait to make these!
Hi Annie–it uses 1/2 teaspoon of the lavender paste. The detailed recipe is at the bottom of the post. I used the Wilton luster dust and ordered the brush, meringue powder and luster dust all from Joanne Fabric. The state fair version was made with dried lavender buds and formed in molds with no other decoration. The cookie part of the recipe was not exact but very close. Have fun!
Yum, yum, yum! I’m going to have to try these, too, Inger. Shortbread is so good, and I can imagine with lavender it is even better. I have read that chocolate and lavender is a nice combination . . . have you ever tried that? And too bad your lemon-lavender tea didn’t work. That sounds great in theory. I have my share of failures in the kitchen, too, even though I’m not as inventive as you and usually use recipes. My flops category is here
Thanks for all your lavender inspiration 🙂
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Lavender is such an exotic addition…these sound heavenly! I’m adding lavender to my shopping list at penzeys! I didn’t grow any this year. Great recipe I can’t wait to give it a try!
I was so happy one of my lavender recipes finally worked!
I just knew you would attempt a Lavender Shortbread recipe again, Inger. It was just a matter of time. They do look heavenly and as you say, shortbread is such FUN!
I lost my lavender bush early this year and believe me, I do miss it. It was growing so nicely and then “poof” it was gone. I suppose I should look into Frontier Herbs I really need to stock up on some Herbs & Spices. As a matter of fact, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I may be buying a lot more ingredients online since there are so many things I just can’t seem to find in central PA. Are you happy with Frontier?
Thanks for sharing and persevering…
P.S. I’ve read that a pinch of thyme enhances the lavender taste without the “soapiness.” Although, I’ve never tried infusing the flowers in sugar. Noted!
Thanks for the tip on the thyme! I do like Frontier–I buy most of my herbs & spices in 1 lb bags and just give extras away with the bulk cost advantage. Also get shampoo, soaps etc through them. You can form a “buying club” just by filing an application with them and this will get you about a good discount. I usually go in with a couple of others because if the order is $250, even shipping is free.
I can get inspirations from everywhere, especially from your cookies 🙂
i was startled by how much i enjoyed the lemon-lavender combination! your cookies look lovely and delicious. 🙂
Isn’t that an amazing and unusual combination! I remember how beautiful your lemon lavender cupcakes were–perhaps I’ll try that when my daughter is home over Christmas.
Your shortbread looks great. I’m glad you persevered!
I lost my lavender when we rescaped and I must change that this weekend.
That sounds wonderful Tammy–I would love to have homegrown to work with!
I’ve made similar shortbread. This recipe looks delicious.
Shortbread is fun isn’t it?!
Can you really taste the lavender, Inger? I was just reading someone else’s blog–maybe last week?–and they said they couldn’t taste the lavender very much in whatever baked good they sampled. I think this sounds really good!
I had that problem before I tried infusing the sugar first. I think infusing spreads the taste through the ingredients better. In earlier lavender attempts, I just increased the lavender which resulted in more bitterness (my lavender tea was just nasty, though a lovely pink). I am a very much a trial and error cook!
The idea of lemon and lavender sounds and looks gorgeous 😀
Choc Chip Uru
I was so happy to cross this off my list successfully!
You did it ! They look fabulous, and I totally agree with doubling the recipe 😉
Thanks for the inspiration!