Tag Archives: lavender

Chocolate Drizzled Lavender Shortbread

As you may know, I love to cook with lavender. It is so aromatic, and adds sophistication to otherwise ordinary desserts. Lavender is also a favourite of my mom’s, and so, in honour of mother’s day, I made her these shortbread fingers infused with lavender and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate. The are buttery and subtly sweet, and the lavender flavour shines through, without being overpowering. Whether for mother’s day, or any day, these cookies are perfect for an elegant afternoon tea, a thoughtful hostess gift, or a reward at the end of a long day. Lavender is said to relax the mind, so why not whip up a batch for someone in your life who needs a break from all the hard work they do for you. This recipe will make about 30 1″x4″ fingers. You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp lavender flowers
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 pound room temperature butter
  • 1 1/4 cups super fine sugar (fruit sugar, caster sugar etc.)
  • 1/4 cup high quality bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your baking pans with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides. I used one 9″x13″ pan, and one loaf pan, but you can use whatever you have around that will fit all of your dough. In a food processor, pulse lavender flowers until they begin to break down. Don’t worry if many of your flowers are still intact, the purpose of the pulsing is mainly to release their aroma.By now, your kitchen should smell like heaven.

In a medium bowl, combine your lavender with both flours and salt. Whisk the ingredients together until they are fully combined.

In a large bowl, beat butter until it is fluffy. Slowly add in sugar, and continue beating until you have a light, airy mixture. With your hands, slowly add the flour mixture, and toss it together with your fingers until you have a crumbly dough.

Spread the dough between your pans, and press it down until you have a flat, even surface. Your dough should be about 3/4″ thick. Prick holes in your dough with a fork, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove your pans from the oven, and score your dough into rectangles roughly 1″x4″. Scoring the dough while your cookies are still soft will make it easier to cut them when they are finished. Return your pans to the oven, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

When the surface of your dough is firm to the touch, your cookies are ready. Remove them from the oven, and score them again. Once they have cooled completely, cut them into fingers.

here's my mom, observing the process (and taste testing)

Now it is time to temper your chocolate. Tempering is a process by which chocolate is heated, then cooled, and then reheated to ensure that it crystallizes in the ideal form. To melt your chocolate, place 2/3 of it in a zipper bag, and microwave it for 20 seconds. Remove the bag from theĀ  microwave, and squish the chocolate around. Repeat this process until all of the chocolate has melted. Add the remainder of your chocolate to cool down the melted chocolate and squish it around in the bag. Once it has melted, microwave it for another 15 seconds.

Line up your shortbread fingers, cut a small hole in the corner of your zipper bag, and drizzle chocolate back and forth across your cookies. Don’t go overboard: you still want the lavender to be the star flavour. Let the chocolate cool fully at room temperature, and prepare your cookies to give or serve.

Happy mother’s day to all of the moms out there, particularly mine! I hope you take this day as an opportunity to relax, with or without the aid of lavender shortbread.

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Filed under cookies, holidays, new flavours

Lavender Tea Cakes

I first started cooking with lavender when I made a lavender and white chocolate cake as per request for my Mom’s birthday two years ago. Once you learn how to infuse lavender into liquid ingredients, you can add it to just about any recipe. You can usually find it at health food or gourmet shops, and it is relatively inexpensive. It is a complex flavour, and adds sophistication to the most basic ingredients. These bite sized treats are delicately scented with lavender and topped with smooth honey cream cheese frosting. I made 48 tea cakes (mini cupcakes), but you can make full-sized cupcakes if you prefer. The miniature versions would be the perfect addition to an afternoon tea party. You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup cooking lavender
  • 1 box Duncan Hines moist white cake mix (you can use any mix that adds egg white, water, and oil)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • concentrated purple gel food colouring (optional)
  • cupcake liners (optional)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar

This recipe is based on a cake mix that calls for 1 1/3 cups of water. If the recipe on your box calls for a different quantity, use that amount to measure your milk. I added a bit extra to compensate for the milk that you lose when the lavender absorbs some. If your mix calls for whole eggs or different quantities of oil, follow those directions instead.

In a small saucepan, pour your milk, and 1/4 cup of lavender. Cover and heat on low until milk is scalding (not quite a boil). Let cool, and strain out the lavender flowers. You should be left with about 1 1/3 cups of lavender infused milk, which you will need for your cake mix. Discard the used lavender.

In a large bowl, pour your cake mix, and add the extra ingredients according to the package. You will be substituting your lavender milk for the water in the box recipe. Beat together the mix, milk, eggs and oil on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Add your vanilla, and food colouring if you wish. I added colour to overpower the slightly grey cast that the lavender leaves behind.

If you have a mini muffin pan, place your liners inside. Otherwise, place your liners on a flat baking sheet. Fill them about 2/3 full with batter, and bake according to the directions on your mix. Your baking time will probably be less than indicated for standard cupcakes, so keep an eye on them if you are making minis.

While your tea cakes are cooling, you can make your frosting. Cream together butter, cream cheese, and honey in a large bowl on medium-low speed. Add the icing sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down your bowl as you go. Continue adding until you reach a thick but workable consistency.

To frost your tea cakes, you can either spread or pipe on your icing. I filled a piping bag, and used a round tip to cover my cakes with a generous dollop of frosting. They will look cute either way; the honey gives the icing a nice shiny look. Now sprinkle your cakes with a few lavender flowers to finish them off. If you are making these in advance, keep them refrigerated until about an hour before serving.

As I said earlier, these little mini cupcakes would be adorable at a fancy tea party or lunch. Enjoy them with friends who share your adventurous appetite for new flavour combinations!

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Filed under cupcakes, new flavours