A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

lemon lavender cookies

Spring, that elusive little leafy green sprite, is taking her sweet time this year.  Oh sure, I suppose you’re already floating through your days in a pollen-induced euphoria,  adrift in a sea of daffodils and cherry blossoms and baby bunnies going hop hop hop, but here in northern Michigan it’s still colder (as my Geometry teacher liked to say) than a witch’s tit in a brass bra.  I always imagined that must be pretty damn cold — cold enough, at least, to warrant such an expression — and it seems an appropriate way to describe the sort of stubborn, lingering cold that delivers snow in April.  When the baby bunnies are supposed to be hop-hop-hopping.

I haven’t noticed any bunnies, but each time I’ve gone to the window to cuss at the snow I’ve been silenced both by its unwillingness to stick and by the cheerful sight of robins flitting from branch to branch and pecking optimistically at the newly thawed ground.  On a walk yesterday I discovered tender little shoots of green poking their way up insistently through that same ground, and communion with the trees revealed limbs teeming with softly swelling buds.  Spring is quietly transforming brown to green, sneaking up on us like a delightful surprise.



Until she arrives, I’ll console myself with these lemon lavender cookies, which themselves are a delightful little lemony surprise.  They’re crispy, delicate things, tender and toothsome with their bright tanginess tempered by the sweetness of sugar and the herbal earthniness of lavender.  They taste exactly like Spring, and are just the sort of thing you’d serve at those mythical afternoon garden parties that exist only in our imaginations or on the pages of glossy magazines.  They’re also lovely with tea.

You might leave a couple out for the Easter Bunny in the hopes that his delight at such an offering hastens the arrival of his hopping friends, or you might pile them on a pretty plate to serve your guests.  You might also do what I did:  hide a few here and there to surprise yourself with in the coming weeks as you bask in the growing warmth, rejoice in the spreading greenness, and savor the gentle approach of Spring.

Lemon Lavender Cookies
adapted from Baking Illustrated
(makes about 4 dozen)

¾ c. sugar
2 T. grated lemon zest + 2 T. juice from 1-2 lemons
2 t. dried lavender (optional, but then they’d just be lemon cookies)
1¾ c. flour
¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
12 T. (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
1 egg yolk
½ t. vanilla extract

1) In a food processor (Geez, there she goes with the food processor again.  Fine.  Click here for instructions on how to make the cookies by hand or with a stand mixer.), process the sugar, lemon zest and lavender until the sugar looks damp and the zest and lavender are fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the sugar mixture; pulse to combine, about 10 1-second pulses.

2) Scatter the butter pieces over and pulse until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about 15 1-second pulses.  In a measuring cup, beat together the lemon juice, egg yolk and vanilla.  With the machine running, add the juice mixture in a slow stream (should take about 10 seconds) and continue processing until the dough forms into a ball, 10 to 15 seconds longer.

(Now might be a good time to mention how much I freakin’ love this cookbook.  Not only does it provide precise, easy-to-follow instructions like this, every recipe is preceded by a thorough explanation of the results the test kitchen set out to achieve and the experimentation they went through in order to get there.  It’s a great resource for people like me who want to know the why behind every step.  But back to the recipe. . .)

4) Turn the dough and any dry bits onto a clean work surface and gently gather into a ball.  Working quickly, roll the dough into a cylinder about 12″ long and 1½” in diameter.  Center the dough on a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and wrap tightly, twisting the ends together to seal.  Chill the dough until firm and cold, about 45 minutes in the freezer or 2 hours in the refrigerator.

5) Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.  Seriously.  Even if you think your pans are non-stick pans, and even if you’re out of parchment paper and don’t feel like running to the store in the middle of all this.  Line the sheets with parchment paper!  Otherwise your delicate cookies will stick to the pan and crumble when you try to remove them and you will be forced to eat all the little bits to punish them for being so naughty.

6) Remove the dough log from its wrapper and use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 3/8″ thick rounds.  Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1″ apart.  Bake until the centers of the cookies just begin to color and the edges are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes (the recipe actually says 14-16 minutes, but 10 minutes was plenty for me and my wonky oven), rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time.  Cool on sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

53 responses

  1. Those cookies look delicious – lavender is a wonderful addition!

    April 11, 2009 at 9:46 am

  2. These are absolutely perfect cookies. I cook often with herbes de provence, but never just lavender. Your writing is exceptional…

    April 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

  3. How lovely these would be to make with the lavender growing in my front yard. Thanks for the idea.

    April 11, 2009 at 10:27 am

  4. informalblathering

    I’m so in love with lavender right now! And it’s oh so very springy with lemon. I’ve been using those ingredients to try and hurry spring along, too.

    April 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

  5. sivkat

    love the design of this blog, lovely photos as well!

    April 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm

  6. throws out all girlscout cookies.

    immediately.

    great post girl!
    your photography is fabulous, as is your writing.

    April 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

  7. inksensei

    hi all…=P
    ur blog makes me hungry…

    April 12, 2009 at 8:28 am

  8. Gah I wish I could bake!

    April 12, 2009 at 8:02 pm

  9. What a lovely lovely post. WHy someone isn’t paying you for this, I don’t know.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:50 pm

  10. Jess

    Mmmm cookies! They look so yummy!

    Have you done mac and cheese yet or some kind of cheesy pasta that I am missing on your blog? I am in the mood for something cheesy!

    April 16, 2009 at 10:04 am

  11. I’ve never thought of cooking with my lavender. There are still lemons hanging over the wall from our neighbor, and I have lavender blooming. There must be some dry flowers, too.

    Particularly great post and writing, megan! I love this blog!

    April 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  12. Beautifully illustrated! I love it when I run across a blog post that looks like a magazine, something I haven’t managed to do. I’ve featured this on my Sugar Cookie Recipes Squidoo lens with links back to here for the recipe.

    April 18, 2009 at 8:31 am

  13. Megan

    Thanks for all the comments!

    Lu – Maybe someday. . .

    Jess – I haven’t posted anything about mac & cheese. Which does not mean we don’t eat it, like, every other week.

    Bubbles – You can use the fresh flowers, just use double the amount. Let me know how it turns out!

    Gretchen – Thank you!

    April 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm

  14. Those are glorious! I love lavender in cookies. I never thought to use that recipe using lavender. I may just have to make some today. (Thanks for the link!)

    April 26, 2009 at 5:40 am

  15. Oh–you totally win the award for having the best named food blog. I LOVE IT.

    April 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

  16. Tracy

    This looks divine! Where do you suggest purchasing lavendar if we do not have any growing? Thanks for your help!

    April 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm

  17. Megan

    Lindsey – Thanks! My boyfriend actually came up with the name. . .he’s much more clever than I.

    Tracy – A health food store is your best bet, if you have one in your area. You might also be able to find it at some sort of gourmet shop. Just don’t use the lavender you’ll find in craft stores for cooking — it’s loaded with chemicals. The original recipe didn’t even call for lavender, it’s just something I added, so feel free to forge ahead with plain old lemon.

    April 29, 2009 at 7:07 am

  18. Neesh

    Hurry up and make something! I’m in the mood for sumthin’ deeelish. Can you work in some artichokes for pitty sake? Perhaps with bourbon?

    Only you could make that work.

    By the way, I find this comment difficult to write to the girl who used to refer to mushrooms as “troll food”.

    May 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm

  19. I suspect Megan has deserted us for fungus-infused logs.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  20. audrey

    i just finished making these with my 3-year old son. we are enjoying them with honey-mint iced tea, delicious! i didn’t feel like getting out the food processor, so i used the blender to grind the lavender, then added the sugar and zest and blended a little more, cut in the butter w/ pastry cutter. so easy and absolutely scrumptious. they won’t last the day!

    May 31, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  21. Clare

    Inspired by this post, I put lavender in some lemon scones. They’re tasty, but I’m not completely happy with them. I think the lavender/lemon balance is a subtle thing, and looking at some other lemon & lavender scones recipes on the internet, I think I put too much lavender in. Next time I’ll just make these cookies instead!

    June 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  22. i couldn’t wait to leave a comment. i currently have the weirdly shaped, lumpy log in my freezer with another 10 minutes to go.

    how did you get the roll so perfectly round!? i tried rolling between my hands, on the table, then again after 10 minutes in the freezer.

    still lumpy.

    i’ll give you an update on how they come out :)

    July 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm

  23. sooo. the first half came out looking alright. i didn’t cut my slices exactly the same width, so some burnt a little more than others. the second batch is in the oven now.

    BUT! they are delicious!!! my mom is visiting for the weekend and we can’t stop eating them!

    (unfortunately, they don’t look nearly as amazing as yours.. but maybe next time)

    July 11, 2009 at 11:16 pm

  24. Megan

    Audrey – So glad you liked them!

    Clare – There were some folks from a nearby lavender farm at our farmers market (not selling any lavender, sadly) with samples of all sorts of food items they’d made with lavender. One of the ladies said that lavender enhances the flavor of so many other things that the key to lavender is indeed subtlety. Lemon-lavender scones sound fantastic!

    Lauraispass – Yay! My first batch came out a little too crisp, as well. I just didn’t post any pictures of those. :-) As far as roundness goes, the shorter the dough log, the easier it is to roll out evenly, so I think I actually divided the dough into two or three cylinders. Then I jusr roll out from the center of the cylinder with my hands stretched out flat, using the knuckle area right before my palms (rather than fingertips). Martha Stewart suggests that you wrap a roughly formed cylinder in plastic, then place it inside an empty paper towel roll and use that to help you shape them. Some people also rotate their dough as it chills so they don’t end up with a slightly flat side, but I don’t usually bother with that.

    July 12, 2009 at 7:23 am

  25. Megan

    Oh, and I have recently seen small jars of lavender flowers in the McCormick spice display at the regular old grocery, in case anyone has the same question about where to find lavender as Tracy posed above.

    July 12, 2009 at 7:40 am

  26. Can’t wait to try these cookies…..interesting – since I make a kajillion kinds of cookies – – I had never tried this recipe, and only and delightfully stumbled onto your site after reading Jude Deveraux’s book Lavender Morning and wondering what lavender cookies would taste like….

    You have a delightful site!! Thanks for all the great pictures and recipes!!

    July 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm

  27. I found your post about lemon lavender cookies via Google while I was looking for better recipes than my (bad) translation to give my readers.
    I’ll post a link to your website too, because this seems a really good recipe.

    Your photographs are beautiful! Love your photographs.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm

  28. Fan of citrus

    Hi

    I have been looking around for a lavender cookies recipe and have bookmarked a few recipes but am not totally convinced by them.

    I chanced upon yr blog this afternoon and am sooooo excited about this recipe as I knew instantly that this is it! Got started immediately and this is the best cookies I’ve made so far. Looooooovee the texture, fragrance and lightness of this cookie!

    You are absolutely right about the cookies being “crispy, delicate things, tender and toothsome with their bright tanginess tempered by the sweetness of sugar and the herbal earthniness of lavender.” I tasted all these when I bite into the one of those that just came out of the oven!

    Thanks!!

    September 21, 2009 at 4:56 am

  29. Juli

    Help!
    Both baking powder and baking soda are listed as ingredients for these cookies. Which is it? I have them started in a bowl.. using my own home grown lavender. Please clarify the recipe for me. Thank you!

    March 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    • Megan

      Wow, good catch! And sorry for the confusion. I list baking powder in the ingredients list but then say baking soda in the directions. I’ll fix that. It’s all baking powder. Hope the cookies turn out well, and lucky you on the homegrown lavender!

      March 31, 2010 at 5:24 pm

  30. I just bought two Madrid Purple Lavender Plants that have not been sprayed. Can I use those for cookies or does it have to be a special plant?? is there a special way to take the lavender off?
    Thanks for the help.

    April 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

  31. Diane

    These are firming up in my freezer right now…I am so excited to get them in the oven!! I admit it, I snuck a taste of the dough…fabulous!

    April 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

  32. momso

    The best lavender cultivars for culinary use are the “lavandula angustifolias”. They have the least camphor — using others could account for the “medicinal taste” comments. I grow and use “Hidcote”, hardy USDA zone 5-8. Pick the spikes when the flowers are in the bud stage, before they open into full flower. Use fresh, or dry and then strip the buds, storing in dry, dark place.

    June 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

  33. I was looking for a cookie recipe to go with the light lunch that I’m catering this Saturday- and this is PERFECT. Thank you!

    June 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

  34. Roxanne

    Hi,

    I’m going to give these a try. My daughter is getting married in the spring in an outdoor ceremony and she wants to bake something to give as a thank you gift. Since lavender is one of her flowers, these should be perfect!

    Looking forward to exploring the rest of your site.

    Roxanne

    August 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

  35. Horizon

    I was told the Madrid Lavender is too piney flavored to bake with. Does anyone know. I don’t want to spoil the batch if it tastes like pine . Thanks.

    August 8, 2010 at 12:17 am

  36. momso

    You were advised correctly. Madrid lavender is “lavandula stoechas” and when used in food gives a medicinal, “camphor” taste which is rather unpleasant. See my comment above: you want to use buds of “lavandula angustifolia” generally referred to as English lavenders. I use Hidcote — Munstead also good.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:43 am

  37. Horizon

    Thank you momso. I appreciate the information on the Madrid Lavender.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm

  38. I tried them and they have a wonderful texture! I have to say, they are a little too sweet for me. I will try again with 2/3 of the sugar. They also cooked very fast 8 mins… My oven is way too hot!

    Matilda

    September 4, 2010 at 9:09 am

  39. Meg

    I agree with Kellypea. Your writing IS exceptional. May I also add, delightful? :) I love this post. The part about “forced to eat all the little bits to punish them for being so naughty.”- LOL!

    March 7, 2011 at 5:01 am

  40. Pingback: Lavender Lemon Cookies « Everyday Bites

  41. I just cannot quit reading your blog, and I am not one usually to comment multiple times on blog posts but everything in your blog is making me hungry!! I dearly love lemon and I love lavender also, these remind me of some cookies at a local herb farm that has lemon Rosemary cookies that were out of this world. I will be making these too.

    Mitchell
    http://hbs1991.wordpress.com

    June 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

  42. Michelle

    I added the glaze from the recipe you linked to for how to make the cookies by hand and that really made the cookies. Thanks for a great recipe.

    July 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

  43. Jamie

    I was looking for a lavender short bread recipe, but something about your photograph had me coming back to this page. And then it finally hit me; your cookies look like lavender snickerdoodles. Lavender. Snickerdoodles.

    To hell with shortbread, I’m making these.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

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  45. Jeanne

    Can I freeze the cookie dough and cut and bake a week later? I have my son’s destanation wedding and wanted to taket the dough with me to bake at the wedding site.

    June 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    • I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it, but it seems like that should work. I think I’d let the dough thaw completely before baking though. Good luck!

      July 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

  46. shenandoahgatewayfarm.blogspot.com

    I just found your site and your pictures and writing are wonderful. I will be making these cookies and coming back for more.

    July 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

  47. gradabout

    Beautiful recipe – waiting around for Spring to raise it’s blossomed head here in grey England too!! Always cheerful to discover ways to add a touch of sunshine to the day. Thanks :)

    March 5, 2013 at 3:05 am

  48. I’ve been using this recipe for a while now, and it has slowly but surely won out over any other cookie I’ve ever made. Thank you for these delicious cookies. I recently got a food processor and am making them right now for the first time by processing instead of mixing. Can’t wait to see how they come out!

    July 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm

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