One day, on an impulse, I bought a small bag of culinary lavender. Then I wondered what to do with it. I had always associated lavender with soap and potpourri, and imagined lavender ice cream or lavender baked goods would taste soapy. I'm glad to report this shortbread is not at all soapy. I'd call it herbal and lightly floral, and I wasn't prepared for the glowing reaction it got. See, I liked the cookies well enough, but I was dreaming of chocolate ice cream, or summery peach cobbler. And I didn't want a load of buttery shortbread around the house, so I brought the cookies to work. Their unusual flavor combination, cute teapot shapes, and pretty sprigs got plenty of attention, and lots of compliments.
|Squares of shortbread dough flecked with rosemary and lavender. Press some rosemary sprigs into some|
of the shortbread for a decorative touch. Then everything gets a dusting of sugar.
The shortbread is sandy and buttery, and accented with honey along with the lavender and rosemary. Make sure you use dried culinary lavender; the leaves in the sachet that scents your drawer might have chemicals on them. I adapted this recipe from Epicurious to include the lavender. I also altered the method to make lots of cutout cookies that would hold their shape when handled, as opposed to two simple rounds scored into triangles.
These are perfect for a fancy tea, but since the temperature hit 90 yesterday I made a strawberry oolong iced tea steeped with lavender. For a bit of color, splash in about a teaspoon of cranberry juice. Pour over ice, cool down, and have a cookie.
Adapted from Rosemary Shortbread at Epicurious
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp culinary lavender
12 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbs honey
½ cup confectioners sugar
1 tbs granulated sugar
Small rosemary sprigs, for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, rosemary, and lavender.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter, honey, and confectioners sugar. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until large lumps form. Press the dough together into two discs. If it's a hot day, chill the discs for 10 minutes in the refrigerator before proceeding -- you don't want the butter to get melty.
Between sheets of parchment paper, roll out one disc of dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch square cutter or other shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Using a spatula (a fish turner works great), transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Move the baking sheet to the refrigerator, and repeat with other disc of dough. Reroll dough scraps, and repeat to get more cookies, refrigerating them when done.
On a few cookies, press small rosemary sprigs into the centers. Refrigerate all the shortbread until very cold, at least one hour and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 300°. Just before baking, put the granulated sugar in a saucer or small bowl. Dip each cookie into the sugar before returning it to the baking sheet. By now the cookies should be very cold and hold their shape well while you handle them. Space them about 1 inch apart -- they won't spread much when baking.
Bake the shortbread for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer the shortbread to a cooling rack. Once the cookies are completely cool, they can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.