Foraging is something that has always fascinated me. I was never very dedicated to it, but my sister always knew where to find the best morel mushrooms; she would go through the woods picking all the edible leaves and make salads with dandelion greens. Because of her interest, my parents got her a book about cooking with flowers – it was more about picking blossoms from your flower garden than it was about foraging, but I’ve never forgotten the lavender shortbread recipe that we made. It is floral and sweet and for some reason I cannot stop eating it when we have it around.
Now, I have friends who get excited when ramp season starts, or know when to pick plantain leaves, or the best way to cook fiddleheads or nettles. I’m still way behind on learning to forage, but lately the lavender bushes in everyone’s yards around the neighborhood have been blooming, and I was inspired to pull out this recipe, again. If you don’t have lavender growing around you, many spice stores (such as Penzy’s) will carry it.
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from “Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion with Recipes” by Kitty Morse
Makes about 24 cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 lemon, zested
11/2 tablespoons fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
Additional blossoms, for garnish
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour in increments, mixing until a smooth, firm dough forms. Stir in the lemon zest and lavender blossoms. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and lightly flour. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll out into 2 (10-by-7-inch) rectangles about ¼-inch thick. Place the parchment on a baking sheet and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using your favorite shaped cutter, cut out the cookies. Place them onto a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart so they have room to expand.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies turn light brown around the edges. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container.