Desserts

Cover-to-Cover Project: Lavender Shortbread

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Earlier this month I signed up to take part in The Bitten Word’s annual Cover-to-Cover project. It’s a baking project where readers volunteer to make every holiday confection published in their favorite cooking magazines. I knew I would need motivation to kick my holiday baking into high gear, and a plate of cookies makes just about everyone I surround myself with happy.

I was pretty stoked when I received my assignment. I was up to bake the impossibly beautiful Lavender Shortbread cookies that graced the cover of this month’s Bon Appétit Magazine.

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These beauties were included in a magazine spread covering the vibrant desserts from Craftsman & Wolves Bakery in San Francisco.  When I couldn’t track down edible flowers I ordered freeze-dried raspberries, French lavender, and pistachios. I also candied some fresh rosemary and thyme I already had on hand. Outside of my flower acquisition fail I followed the recipe to the letter.

These cookies are both gorgeous and delicious. The combination of the dried lavender, sour dried raspberries, and candied fresh herbs really brought a bright and complex flavor that is unlike any holiday cookie I’ve had before. Everyone loved them, even my nephews.

The shortbread came together quickly, and the glaze was ever so thick, shiny and beautiful. Both need to be made in advance, so tackle them the night before you plan to bake and decorate away.

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Lavender Shortbread with Flowers, Fruits, and Herbs

Ingredients:

The Glaze:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

The Shortbread and Assembly:

  •  cup rice flour
  •  teaspoon kosher salt
  •  cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
  • 1 cup (two sticks), plus 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground dried lavender
  • Freeze dried and/or dried fruits, dried edible flowers, nuts, and/or dried herbs, for decorating.

Special Equipment:

  • 3⅛”-diameter and one 1¼”-diameter biscuit cutter. Extra points for presentation if you happen to have fluted cutters.

Instructions:

For the Glaze:

Using a rubber scraper or spoon, stir together the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl until completely combined. You shouldn’t see any dry spots of sugar. All of it should be incorporated. The original recipe recommends allowing the glaze to rest for at least 12 hours so the sugar can fully hydrate, but you can use the glaze before that if you are pressed for time.

If you are making this in advance, just cover and place it in the fridge overnight and bring it up to room temperature before you dip the cookies in it. The chilled glaze will keep for 1 week covered in the fridge.

For the Shortbread:

Using a stand mixer on medium high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and dried lavender for about 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is pale and very fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently.

Meanwhile in another bowl, combine the rice flour, salt, and all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. When the butter is fluffy and beautiful turn the mixer down to low and add the contents of the flour bowl. Mix until fully combined, no more than 30 seconds. Form the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for at least two hours and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out the cookie dough between two sheets of lightly (and I mean lightly) floured parchment paper until the cookies are about 1/8″ thick. Using the large cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can, while re-rolling the scraps of dough. Use the smaller cutter to punch out the cookie centers. Bake cookies on parchment lined baking sheets for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light brown and golden. Rotate the sheet pans halfway through baking.

Allow cookies to cool on a wire rack. When you’re ready to dip the cookies, dip the tops into the room temperature glaze and place back on wire rack. Decorate quickly. The glaze sets within a 60-second window so go wild with your toppings once that cookie is out of the glaze.

According to Bon Appétit, these will keep airtight at room temperature for about 1 week. They lasted about a day here.

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