Let’s talk lavender! Well known for its beautiful flowers and aromatic scent in the garden, it’s loved the world over.
As an avid gardener, I have large swaths of this plant in my yard and for years I’ve been using it in bouquets, drying it, and making wreaths. I’ve shipped it to my daughter in NY and tucked it into a hot bath at night. That said, for years I’ve had it on my culinary to-do list to use it more in the kitchen and this year I finally got around to it!
My lavender bushes are JUST in full bloom and this is apparently the best time to use lavender for culinary purposes as this is when the essential oils are most potent.
After mulling my options and perusing some of my books, I opted to make a Lavender Shortbread, using the recipe from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld as my launching pad. I have adapted the technique significantly from Traunfeld’s recipe but one step in that recipe struck me as crucial–blending the lavender flowers with a small amount of sugar prior to adding it to the butter and remainder of the sugar and then getting on with the recipe. Although the recipe doesn’t explain WHY they do this process, it’s apparent to me that the whizzing of the sugar and the lavender plays a key role in dispersing the extraordinary and heady aroma of the lavender into the sugar which acts essentially as a flavor carrier when combined with the butter and other ingredients.
While I was whizzing the lavender and the sugar, I wondered if the lavender would become too potent in the recipe and resemble Granny’s Pomander ball! However, the end result was deliciously subtle! The recipe is easy and the shortbread freezes great so it’s easy to stash a little summer sunshine away for a rainy winter day!
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer
- Cuisinart Food Processor
- Nordic Ware English Shortbread Pan
- Nine Inch Square Baking Pan
- 3 teaspoons fresh lavendar buds
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 300 F
- Combine the lavender buds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the processor four or five times to combine and then run the machine for about 10 seconds to pulverize the lavender and sugar. (This processing step goes a long way towards dispersing the lavender essential oil into the sugar!)
- Put the lavender sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the butter. Beat the sugar and butter on low until the mixture is smooth and creamy, but NOT fluffy. Add the flour and combine well to make a cohesive dough.
- Transfer the dough into a nine inch square baking pan or into a Nordic Ware English Shortbread Pan, which also measures 9 inches by 9 inches. Press the dough into the pan, smoothing the edges to get a tidy edge. (Pressing the dough into the Nordic Ware pan ensures that the dough with take on the pan's floral impressions.)
- Refrigerate the dough in the pan for about twenty minutes prior to baking to let the dough rest.
- Bake the shortbread in the middle of the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the shortbread is just slightly colored. Let the shortbread cool in the pan on a rack for about five minutes and then turn it out onto the rack to continue cooling. Cut the shortbread into 9 pieces when almost cool.
- Store the shortbread in an airtight container. It also freezes very well.
- Serve with tea, ice cream, and/or fresh seasonal berries!