Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lavender love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day -- or, depending on your perspective, Singles Awareness Day -- and once again I have my trusty Ollie by my side. Sure, she's not much of a snuggler, but she's trustworthy, loyal, and doesn't primarily communicate via text message (unlike the last lover who broke my heart, darn him). Apparently I am not so good at choosing human partners, but I do decently well picking out good bicycles. And boy can I choose a recipe.

This Valentine's Day, whether you're making a batch of cookies for your hubby or a hearty plateful to devour while watching When Harry Met Sally in flannel pjs by yourself and grumbling about how love never actually works out that way, I offer this favorite new recipe:

Lavender Shortbread

(makes about 2 dozen cookies... if you can resist nibbling on the batter!)

Combine in a double boiler: 1/4 cup local honey + 1 T crushed dried lavender flowers. Heat over low for 15 minutes. Strain and discard flowers.

Beat 1/2 pound (2 sticks/16 T) salted butter + 1 t dried lavender flowers + the honey. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Bring lavender butter to room temperature, then beat in 1/2 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in 1 t vanilla extract, then stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup at a time). Roll dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for an hour. (It'll keep for a few days in the fridge... again, if you can keep from eating the delectable, buttery goodness.)

Preheat oven to 375F. Slice 1/4-inch rounds of dough and bake on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Alternately, if you want to get fancy, as I did for the batch I made for mom's birthday earlier this week, you can roll the dough out and cut shapes or letters. You can write messages like "Happy birthday, mom!" or "Love is a battlefield." Anyway....

Enjoy with a big mug of black tea or a nice tall glass of cold milk. And don't be alarmed by all of the butter. I mean, you can't make these every day -- for one thing, the process is a little labor-intensive -- but they're a lovely, just-a-little-bit-fancy treat for special occasions. Go on, break out the fancy tea set.

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