Lavender Lemon Butter Cookies

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I have two 6L glass carboys in my possession right now, despite the fact that I don’t make my own wine and I can’t figure out what in god’s name I’m going to do with them.  I also have a pair of sparkly pink Hooker Barbie heels that have never been worn, an instructional manual on how to make felt goblins, and another one on how to rewire your home – which is something that I’m never going to do, a wise decision you will agree.  Oh, and a television lamp made with a stuffed iguana crazy glued onto a conch shell, which I purchased at a bazaar.  The light inside glows red.  These are just a cross-section of the random items that I have bought on whim, it was imperative that I had to have them, and yet when the moment of truth comes to pass I sit there scratching my head bald about why I would have done such a thing.  Except for the gruesome TV lamp, I rather like that one…..

My disturbing propensity towards buying ridiculous items also carries into the food world.  In my pantry right now there is an untouched bottle of wasabi green tea hot sauce, Quebecois mustard pickles (admittedly, I’m saving those for a rainy day), a variety of ice wine jellies and an enormous bottle of fish sauce which was purchased solely for it’s name.  Then we get into herbs and spices….whoa, baby.  My spice cabinet looks like I’m trying to single handedly create a Silk Road economy from the privacy of my kitchen.  Who needs three varieties of yellow curry powder, because they simply MUST have the Sri Lankan, Indian, and West Indian varieties?  When you have a half jar of alder smoked sea salt, would you buy another one of chardonnay smoked salt?  While we’re at it, how exactly does one smoke salt with chardonnay?  And  why are these questions that I never seem to ask myself at the time?

So it goes, and that’s how I end up with a jar of dried lavender that I have no idea what to do with.  It sat on my counter, with the wrapping still intact, for the last two months.   I tried to muster up some creativity and enthusiasm to make some honey-lavender glazed pork loin, or even a blessed lavender tea, but to no avail.  The jar just sat there, glaring at me and muttering comments about failure until I started to get edgy.  So what do you do when you have a jar of lavender and absolutely no drive to come up with an interesting purpose?  You bake cookies, of course!  

Lavender Lemon Butter Cookies

Makes approximately 30 cookies

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature *
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dried lavender
  • coarse or raw sugar to coat (about 1/4 cup)

* If you live in a temperate house, try leaving the butter out on the counter overnight.  However, if you have a cat who likes to leap up on the counter when you’re sleeping and scarf down a half pound of butter, and the only evidence that you’ll have about who the culprit is comes from a litter box most foul indeed, you might want to make sure that it’s in a sealed container or kept protected in a cupboard. 

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Cream together the softened butter with the icing sugar until it’s nice and smooth.  I use salted butter, but if you would prefer to use unsalted butter then feel free to do so – just remember to add a pinch of salt to the mixture when you work in the dry ingredients.

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Using a zester or a microplane, zest off 1.5 tbsp of sunshine yellow zest and add this to the butter.  Give it a nice stir so that the lemon zest is well worked in.

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Add the flour and cornstarch to the butter and stir lightly until the flour starts to coat the butter but is not worked in.  Add the lavender at this point.

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Use your hands to gently work the flour and butter together.  With light fingers, delicately rub the ingredients into one another until the mixture is no longer dry and it’s just starting to come together like a dough.  The reason that you want to be a bit of a soft touch is that overworking the dough will lead to a tougher cookie.  If you’re sweet and careful with the dough, the result is a fine textured and meltingly crispy butter cookie, which is reward enough for me.

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Measure out a long strip of clingy plastic wrap, at least two feet long, and scrape the dough onto it along the center.  Gently cup and press the mixture into a rustic log shape.

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Wrap the plastic tightly around the dough form and twist both ends to seal it completely.  Press and roll this into an even and rounded log shape, making sure that everything is tight, tight, tight!  The tighter and clingier the wrapping, the easier it will be to roll this well into a nice shape.  Tuck the sealed roll into the fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour or up to 3 days.

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When the dough is fully chilled and quite firm, preheat the oven to 325F with your rack in the upper third.  Unwrap the log of dough and slice it horizontally into rounds that are between 1/4 and 1/3 inch thick.  Try to slice them all into the same thickness so that they cook evenly.

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Sprinkle your coarse sugar onto a plate and press one side of your cookie into it to coat.  Spread the cookies out onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  They will need a wee bit of room to spread, but not a lot.

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Bake your lovely lavender lemon butter cookies in the upper third of your oven for 20 – 24 minutes, or until they’re just starting to turn golden on the edges.  If they’re on two different racks, don’t forget to rotate the sheets halfway through.

Let the cookies cool completely before taking your first melting, buttery bite.

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Despite the fact that these cookies look meek and mild, the flavors are anything  but.  That tarty lemon comes through strongly, before you get an equally bold herbal hit from the dried lavender.

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Lemon and lavender are such a lovely combination, and now I feel like a heel for not tucking into the jar sooner.  Well, I hereby realize the error of my ways.  Maybe I’ll make some pork loin this week, after all……

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  • Betsy

    Lavender lemonade, while maybe not quite appropriate for this time of year, is also an excellent way to use up dried lavender. Not that I have two cups of it in my own spice cupboard or anything. And as for that spice cupboard… There are some spice people at my farmer’s market (http://www.julietmae.com/) who have made me a frickin’ spice hoarder. Plus, they’re so nice in person, and will make stuff up for you on demand.

  • http://sublimesweets.com Roselyn

    the cookies look great! i have never tried baking with lavender simply because it is not available here in the philippines. i do love lemons, though. happy christmas!

  • Rebecca

    I have a jar of lavender sugar at home. I’m guessing it could be subbed in for the sugar and lavender — I’ll have to try it when I’m back from vacation!

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com Peter

    Is it tea time? Time for a biscuit I say!

    Merry Christmas to you both!

  • http://noblepig.com noble pig

    I think it was a great usage and with tea….it sounds delicious!

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Betsy, Roselyn and Rebecca – thank you for stopping by our site!! Lavender lemonade is a GREAT idea, and I do really love lemonade. And seasonality be damned, I would totally make some up right now (and probably will before the week is through) because dreary winter days call for a bit of sunshine.

    Roselyn – I know what you mean, I love reading sites from all around the world, but then I get depressed knowing that I will never have access to some of the ingredients. and there isn’t always a substitute….

    Rebecca – that’s a great idea!! The lavender sugar is probably made with granulated sugar which means that the cookies wouldn’t have the same texture – they may be a bit grainier. However, I’m sure they would be delicious!

    Peter – ANY TIME is time for a biscuit!! Merry Christmas to you as well!!!!!!

    Noble Pig – aw, you’re always so kind!!

  • Ebony

    Tthe lavendar was bitter and soapy tasting. I don’t think adding lavendar is a good idea. The cookie (by itself) is delicious but the lavendar ruins the taste. I tried the recipe without lavendar and it tasted like a very good tea cookie. I like using unbleached flour. I gave thee lavendar free version as a Christmas gift.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Ebony – I’m glad that you were able to make a variation (by omitting the lavender) that you liked. If you don’t like the taste of lavender then just making lemon cookies was probably a good idea. I *am* really excited that you tried the recipe though, even if it wasn’t for you. Lavender does have a very strong herbal taste, and if that’s something that you don’t enjoy (or find bitter and soapy tasting!!) then it makes sense not to put it in.

    If you just don’t like lavender but still want an aromatic and earthy herbalness, I was thinking of making these again with a teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary. I don’t know if they’ll work out, but it’s worth a shot, right?

    Thanks again for stopping by our site!

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    Those little shortbreads are gorgeous. Shoot, I feel like a proper lady just looking at them.

  • Ebony

    I think I will try them again with rosemary because I do want to try a different flavor. I like the
    taste of rosemary with turkey. I might try a tiny bit of fennel because that has an interesting taste that might work well in something sweet. I just started going to culinary school so I am trying to experiment this year.

  • http://dishingupdelights.blogspot.com Esi

    I am so loving this recipe! I was going to make a honey shortbread tomorrow, but now after seeing this, I am torn!

  • http://TheSpitefulChef.blogspot.com kristie

    congrats on tastespotting, girlie! I was so proud to see your name!

  • http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com dawn

    I would love to try these. Wonderful!

  • http://informalblathering.wordpress.com anna

    Those sound fantastic! I love lavender.

  • Renee

    My cookie log crumbles. What did you do to make it stay together? It seems like there is just a little bit too little liquid or something to hold everything together. I can get the log formed, but when I try to cut it, it is a gigantic mess. The cookies are really tasty though….

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Hi Renee! Let’s start with the butter. Some brands have a higher water content than others, particularly for salted butter vs unsalted. You could try using an unsalted butter and adding a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients.

      The second thing you could do is add a few tablespoons LESS cornstarch. If it is too crumbly, that’s probably because it is too dry, and the cornstarch will also make it a bit more tender. Confectioners sugar sometimes has cornstarch added (in varying amounts by brand) so you can get away with reducing it. Too much liquid would make it sticky and hard to work, but it’s too much dry ingredient that would cause crumbling.

      The final tip would be to make sure that it is really, really well chilled. After forming the log, press it firmly into shape with your hands, kind of like packing it down. Roll it up tightly and you can even flash freeze the dough for 30 minutes until it is very firm but still can be sliced.

      Good luck!