Oh shortbread, you get me every time.
The sad news is that shortbread seems to be one of those cookies that, in my humble opinion, never seems to be done quite to my liking. When they are sold out and about in the world they are usually too large for my cookie needs or they are overbaked and lack flavor and for all these reasons they tend to settle back into the case and let the brownies and chocolate chip cookies take all the glory. That’s cool. Shortbread know what’s up. They’ve been around a while so they are happy to let the others cookies have their turn with glory.
I received my first ever tin of culinary grade lavender on a semi-recent visit to the San Juan Islands and it was just the inspiration I needed to finally make the shortbread cookie of my dreams. At first thought lavender may not sound like the best addition to the blank cookie canvas that shortbread provides. You may be thinking, leave the lavender for the soap! Or the candles! Just keep it away from my cookies. But you’ll be missing out on some seriously fancy flavor.
The cookie I was dreaming up had to include lemon somewhere and at first I wanted to put lemon zest into the cookie dough but I figured that was been-there-done-that. So I decided that a quick roll in lemon sugar while the cookies were still warm would A) make them look pretty and B) give just enough citrus flavor while still letting the lavender shine through. The result is a cookie that is simple and elegant and just enough different for all your summer entertaining needs, and will be happy to have their moment to shine.
Now are you wondering where you can find lavender? You can order it online or find it at most Whole Foods Markets. Just make sure you purchase the “culinary grade”.
Lavender Shortbread Squares Dusted with Lemon Sugar
Makes about 3 dozen tiny cookie squares
For the cookies:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (2 grams) culinary grade lavender
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (145 grams) flour
1/4 cup (26 grams) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dusting:
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
zest of one lemon
In a medium bowl cream together the butter, sugar, and lavender until pale and well combined. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt until the flour has just been incorporated; being careful not to overmix. The dough will look crumbly. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the countertop and pour the shortbread crumbs on top. The goal is to touch the dough as little as possible so use the edges of the plastic wrap to gently pull the dough together, pressing ever so lightly as you go, until it holds its shape. Wrap in another layer of plastic and chill the dough for several hours or overnight.
When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl use the back of a spoon combine the sugar and the lemon zest.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/2- to 1/4-inch thick. Use a knife to cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and prick each cookie with a fork. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until pale and barely golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes then toss each cookie in the lemon sugar. Let the cookies cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.