There is very little that can compare with the mingling scents of lavender and rosemary to sooth one’s spirit while invigorating the mind. The other day though, I found just the thing – the mingling of those scents while letting a fresh shortbread cookie melt in your mouth.
I have loved the smell of lavender for as long as I can remember, but it was not until a few years ago that I learned you could cook with it. I started with teas, then moved to simple syrup, and finally to the lavender shortbread recipe I’m sharing today. Lavender is known for calming stress and related headaches, its antiseptic properties, and aiding in digestion. While lavender infused ointments and lotions can be relatively easy to find, finding the herb fresh or dried for cooking and teas can be difficult. For this recipe, I used dried organic lavender flowers I bought at Old City Remedies in St. Augustine. There is a lavender farm in Virginia where you can pick fresh lavender, but their season is very short, so we’ll have to wait until next year for fresh lavender.
Rosemary is an herb most of us have used in chicken and fish dishes or on roasted vegetables, but it rarely makes an appearance on many of our dessert menus. Studies have shown that it has many health benefits from aiding digestion, easing severe headaches and migraines, and antioxidant properties. It has even been rumored to ward off evil spirits. Despite its reputation for being difficult to grow, I am lucky to have this fragrant, woody herb growing in my backyard.
While I used both rosemary and lavender, I chose not to combine them in one cookie, instead making two batches, each with a different flavor. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you may want to try tarragon, lemon balm, or even basil as your herb of choice in this recipe. Be sure to leave a comment if you try something new and let us know how it goes.
1) Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy.
2) Add salt and lavender/rosemary. *
3) Add flour and use electric mixer to blend until just combined. The mixture will be crumbly at this point.
4) Using your hands bring the dough together until well combined, and form a flat disc. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or other air-tight container and chill for approximately 20 minutes.
5) Preheat oven to 350ºF and take dough out of the refrigerator.
6) Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thickness and cut out cookies with a cookie cutter 2-3 inches in diameter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and dust with additional sugar.
7) Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies are done when they are just barely beginning to brown on the edges.
* If you have real foresight, you can actually add your dried herb to your half cup of sugar up to a week in advance. This will allow the flavor to infuse into the sugar and create a more vibrant flavor.
Once the cookies have cooled, store them in an airtight container and they should last a couple of weeks. Well, they may not last 2 weeks, but they could. I recommend taking a small bite and letting it melt in your mouth. It’s heavenly.