Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lavender Cookies

Sitting and gazing out the window at today's gray, windy weather was not a positive activity. It's April, it's Easter Sunday. I  needed... well, something to recapture the buoyant feeling of Spring in Seattle. Tossing on a sweater, I grabbed the camera and prowled the yard, searching for new signs of Spring. I dashed out the kitchen door, across the deck, and boom! stopped immediately at the sight of blooming lavender plants. When did they open up? I love the scent of lavender, fresh or dried. Can anyone resist running a leafy sprig through their fingers to capture that intriguing aroma? 

Lavender, a member of the mint family, is reported to have medicinal as well as culinary uses. For cooking it is a necessary component of the spice mixture Herbes de Provence. I harvest my Spanish lavender for bouquets and sachets, but prefer to buy culinary Lavandula officinalis online from Penzeys Spices. Forget the savory Mediterranean recipes, today it's all about Lavender Cookies, sweets with a little bite.

This recipe for Lavender Cookies came with the plants years ago, printed on each plant tag. I tossed one tag into a clipping file and promptly forgot it. Last summer I rediscovered the recipe and couldn't resist a trial batch to share with boat guests. They must have been a hit, since they disappeared quickly (the cookies, not the guests). The cookies have a slightly bitter edge and really do taste like lavender, which is a good thing only if you like lavender. It grows on you. I'll try Batch Two today and try some sweet toppings to balance the bite - sprinkles of sugar on one dozen and a thin frosting of powdered sugar and lemon juice to dip another dozen. We can do a taste test with three versions - plain, sugar topped, and frosting dipped. Oh yummy!   

Lavender Cookies
2/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 scant tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 ½ cups self-rising flour*

1. Preheat oven to 350 F while mixing dough. Grease 2 baking sheets (or use silpat or parchment paper).
2. Cream the butter and the sugar together, then stir in the beaten egg.
3. Mix in the flowers and the flour.
4. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets.
5. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are golden.
    Makes about 30 cookies.

*To use regular flour instead, add 2 tsp of baking powder for every 1 cup of plain flour. (total 3 tsp for this recipe) Sift flour and baking powder together into a separate bowl and sift again into the cookie dough.

Tasting notes
1. A sweet topping is a positive addition, both sugar and lemon frosting were hits
2. I'll add some lemon zest to the dough for the next batch and sugar the tops. 

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