Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread

I think lavender it's a great plant, with a beautiful color and a wonderfully aromatic scent. A creamy white soap that's scented with lavender oil or lavender water for ironing or spraying sheets are special to have on hand.

But for some reason, I can't seem to get it to grow. I kill it, or it dies no matter what I do whenever I try... but I know I'm not the only one with this problem. It's genetic.
If the lavender could speak, maybe it would say we were merciless- we try everything we can, torturing the poor plants, but to no avail.
"Please, please, leave me alone! Let me go!"

So, I'd never actually used lavender as an herb in cooking.
It's sometimes found in an herbes de provence blend (depending on the recipe, I suppose), and I know it makes a very comforting floral addition to some tea blends- it's the kind of tea that's nice to take with quiet and a book.

Once upon a time a few months ago, I was shopping at Dean and De Luca when I happened to be in Kansas City. I like that place, and if nothing else it's nice for ideas or a pleasant walk-through.
Long story short, I bought a small can of lavender buds. Partially for the enjoyment of it, but partially as a challenge. Never having cooked with lavender a solo, as an actual single-note ingredient, I decided to try something.

Lavender is sometimes found in cookies, and it lends a delicate floral flavor, and this is what I decided to go for.

So I didn't stray too far off the beaten path on this one, I admit. Not too much going on imagination-wise... I was working from something I'd tasted before. It's not quite a duplication or full-on imitation- but I suppose it could be taken as a compliment, right?
Truthfully, I didn't want to get too crazy on my initial attempt, never having worked with this ingredient before.
You certainly don't have to go out and buy lavender buds if you have the uncanny ability to actually GROW lavender. Make sure it's pesticide-free though...

The cookies can be cut with cookie cutters, or the dough can be rolled out and cut with a knife or pizza cutter into squares, rectangles, or diamond shapes. My personal choice was a 2 inch diameter round cutter, and of course, the final number of cookies will depend on how you cut. One thing to remember with any cookie dough is that the more you handle the dough, the stiffer it becomes. Crumbly, delicate cookies come from dough that is kneaded, mashed, and rolled as little as possible.

The final option deals with finishing the cookies. Three varieties were tried: plain, sugar coated, and glazed. Going by taste, glazed won, followed by plain and sugar coated. The glazed option also looks neat and refined in my opinion. If you would like to sugar-coat the cookies, just dip the top or roll the whole cookie in sugar while it's still warm.

Lavender-Lemon Shortbread

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/8 t salt
1 T lavender buds, slightly crushed
zest of 1 lemon
2 1/4 c flour

Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the salt, lavender, and lemon zest and mix until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the flour and mix until just combined. Pour the dough out onto a clean surface, quickly and carefully kneading and pressing into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Cut the dough as desired. Place the cookies onto a lightly colored, ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate the sheet for 30 minutes (this will give the cookies sharper edges).
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake cookies 20-30 minutes, until pale golden around the edges. Cool slightly and remove from the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

will glaze 10-15 2 inch cookies, increase amounts as necessary!

3 T powdered sugar
2 t milk or half and half

Mix sugar and milk together in a small bowl. Add more milk or sugar as necessary for desired consistency. A little lemon zest could also be added.
Dip tops of cookies in glaze and serve, or set cookies on a rack until the glaze hardens. Store in an airtight container.


  1. Lavender grows very very nicely in huge fields in France. Lisieux had it in all the gardens!
    What a great little tea cookie! Pretty too.

  2. I've tried lavender shortbread cookies too and loved them but I like the idea of putting a lemon glaze on them. I'll have to give that a try. I have a linky party on my blog every week called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by this weekend and link this up.

  3. Lavender also grows nicely in people's yards in DC. Just not in my yard. I have rosemary going strong, but the lavender died.

    I blame the squirrels.

    Those cookies look great! I'll have to try a variation.

  4. Visiting from Lisa's Sweet as Sugar Cookies linky party. I have some organic lavender in our front yard. I usually make lavender salt as a meat rub for the grill. This is a nice sweet option. Thank you!

  5. I too seem to kill every lavender plant I've ever owned! Weird. I love lavender chocolate, and have been meaning to make gf lavender shortbread for quite some time now. You may have just inspired me! Thanks :-)

  6. Found you via Sweets for a Saturday. I love lavender lemon shortbread; it was one of the first cookie recipes I ever made in my own kitchen. But I haven't made them in years- thanks for the reminder. The glaze looks like a great addition.

  7. I was planning to make lavender shortbreads, but I love the idea of adding lemon. I think I will try that!