Lavender (Image Source)
Shortbread is an unleavened Scottish cookie that’s made primarily of flour, butter, and sugar. It has a crispy, crumbly texture and buttery flavor. Shortbread can be additionally flavored with just about anything sweet or savory, such as vanilla, coffee, or caraway seeds. I decided to flavor mine with lavender, since I was recently at a local organic store when I found some beautiful dried lavender that I couldn’t resist buying (I’m oddly drawn to uncommon ingredients ;) ). These cookies were fragrant and absolutely beautiful to look at. They made perfect party favors for a mid-summer soiree.
I’m sending my recipe over to Veronica of Recipe Rhapsody for this week’s Blogger Secret Ingredient — flour!
I made Lavender Sugar to use in these cookies, which incidentally, is also amazing in tea (I highly recommend it in Earl Grey). You can substitute Lavender Sugar into any recipe that you want that calls for sugar. There are three ways you can make Lavender Sugar:
- Process the dried lavender and sugar in a blender or food processor until they have a fine texture (they should have the texture of superfine/castor sugar). If you want to make Powdered (Confectioners) Lavender Sugar, you can process half a tablespoon of dried lavender with half a cup of sugar and one tablespoon of cornstarch until they form a powder. Processed in this way, the Lavender Sugar or Powdered Lavender Sugar can be used immediately.
- Combine the sugar and dried lavender in a sterilized glass jar. Put the lid on the jar and leave it for two weeks in a cool, dark place. Pour the Lavender Sugar through a sieve to separate the dried lavender from the sugar (you can discard the dried lavender or use it for something else); the sugar will be perfumed of lavender and is now ready to use.
- Place the dried lavender in a muslin herb bag. Put the herb bag and the sugar together in a sterilized glass jar, put the lid on the jar, and leave it for two weeks in a cool, dark place (giving the jar a shake once a day). Take out the herb bag and use the Lavender Sugar as normal.
If you want, you can dye your Lavender Sugar purple (or you can use this method to dye white sugar any color you want). Here are the steps to dye sugar:
- Preheat oven to 325F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix sugar with a drop or two of food coloring (I recommend using liquid food coloring here). Stir to combine the coloring and the sugar and then add more food coloring to achieve your desired color. If you add too much coloring you can add more sugar.
- Spread the colored sugar out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 2-5 minutes (or until dry…but be careful and check it often to make sure that the sugar isn’t caramelizing), depending on how much sugar you make.
- After baking, sieve the sugar to remove any lumps.
- Store sugar in sterilized lidded jars at room temperature.
(Yield: 15 cookies)
1/4 c plus 2 TB lavender sugar, divided (see below)
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter plus a little more to press the cookies, at room temperature
1 c all-purpose flour
3 TB cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Red and blue liquid food coloring (optional)
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 TB dried lavender
For the Lavender Sugar: Process the dried lavender and sugar in a blender or food processor until they have a fine texture (they should have the texture of superfine/castor sugar). Measure out and set aside 1/4 c Lavender Sugar to make the cookie dough and 2 TB Lavender Sugar to use on top of the cookies. There will be 2 TB Lavender Sugar leftover; I used this in the tea that I drank with the cookies.
If you want to dye the Lavender Sugar purple to use on top of the cookies: Preheat oven to 325F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the 2 TB of Lavender Sugar that you set aside with a drop or two of both red and blue food coloring. Stir to combine the coloring and the sugar and then add more food coloring to achieve your desired color. If you add too much coloring you can add more plain white sugar. Spread the colored sugar out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 2-3 minutes, or until dry. After baking, sieve the sugar to remove any lumps.
For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 325F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner. Cream together the butter and 1/4 c Lavender Sugar that you measured out. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the wet. If the dough is too sticky to handle, refrigerate it for 15 minutes. Using a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, measure out the dough and roll them into balls. Place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass with butter, then dip it in the dyed Lavender Sugar (if you didn’t dye your sugar, just dip the buttered glass in the regular Lavender Sugar). Slightly flatten each ball of dough with the buttered and sugared glass, dipping in more butter and sugar as needed. Bake for 17 minutes, then cool completely on the baking sheet before removing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.