In Which a Bit of Provence Makes its Way into Shortbread…

Shortbread dough ready for baking...

Lavender may not necessarily be one of my favorite colors (in truth, it’s one of the hues I loathe), but the blossom that bears the name is one of my personal favorites for therapeutic qualities, its lifting aroma, and its peppery flavor.  So, when I found a recipe for lavender sugar in the June 2010 issue of BBC Good Food, I knew I had to make myself a batch.

Lavender Sugar

This gorgeously perfumed sugar adds a sweet yet peppery nip to baked goods and savory sauces.  (I actually recommend using this to add pepperiness to barbecue marinades.)  It’s also a cinch to make.  But, seeing how obtaining fresh lavender is a near-impossibility in this part of the world, dried lavender buds work as well.  Here’s the recipe should you want to give it a go:

Lavender Sugar

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar or granulated Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender buds

Mix together the sugar and lavender buds in a clean bowl.  Pour into a clean jar and close tight.  Shake the jar occasionally to allow the lavender to permeate the sugar.  Store in a cool, dark place until you want to use it.  You can easily double or triple the amount, by the way.

Now, according to Good Food, lavender sugar goes down a treat when added to shortbread instead of regular sugar.  That in mind, let me also give you my recipe for Equinox Shortbread – quite aptly named as we are experiencing the change from winter to spring in the west and from cold to summery here in the tropics.

Equinox Shortbread

  • 1 cup soft margarine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lavender sugar, sifted
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender tincture
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 grams dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lavender buds, optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.  Grease a standard cookie sheet or line it with greaseproof paper; set aside.

Cream the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and lavender tincture; mix until well combined.  Sift in the cornstarch, then the flour in 1/4 cup batches.  Mix until a soft dough is achieved.

Press the dough into the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Let the chocolate melt, then smooth it over...

Remove from oven and scatter the chocolate over the surface of the shortbread base.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional five minutes.  Remove from oven and smooth the now-melted chocolate over the base until evenly covered.  If desired, scatter lavender buds evenly over the chocolate topping.  Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Makes around 30.


Guilty Pleasures Shortbread

Variation: Turn these cookies into Guilty Pleasures Shortbread by chilling the uncut, chocolate-iced shortbread for about an hour, then spreading crunchy/chunky peanut butter evenly over the top.  Cut into bars afterwards.