A few years ago, I went to Oklahoma City with a couple of friends for a run. We stayed with one of the girls’ parents who lived there, and one of the nights her mom baked us some sugar cookies with fresh lavender from her garden in them. I had never had lavender in baked goods before so I didn’t know what to expect, but they were delicious!
Unfortunately I live in a 3rd floor apartment in the middle of Austin, so I don’t have my own garden of fresh herbs (although it is a life goal 🙂 ). Instead, to make these cookies I used a combination of lavender extract and dried lavender. Dried lavender is fairly easy to find, I bought mine from the bulk spices section of my local grocery store. The lavender extract may be a little trickier to hunt down, you can most likely find some at a baking supply store, but you could also always order some online. I do have some notes later on in this post, however, for how you can modify the recipe if you aren’t able to find lavender extract.
Lavender is delicious in shortbread because it goes so well with the rich buttery flavor of the cookies. The lemon that I’ve added also gives these cookies a nice light, freshness. These cookies are packed full of flavor and are super easy to make!
To make these cookies, start by gathering all of the ingredients for the shortbread
Next, zest two lemons. I used a pretty fine zester because I didn’t want any chewy chunks of zest in the baked cookies. You could also use coarser zester and finely mince the zest before using. After zesting the lemons, juice them, and set the juice aside for the icing.
Then, use a mortar and pestle to grind up the dried lavender. Again, this is to prevent and large chunks in the baked cookies. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you could pulse the lavender in a food processor, or mince it using a knife and cutting board.
Once the zest and lavender are ready to go, start making the shortbread dough. Mix together two sticks of butter at room temperature and 3/4 cup powdered sugar using a stand or hand mixer on low speed.
In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder). Add the dry ingredients in one batch to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix to combine.
Next, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could chill the dough at this point overnight (which is what I did). Just make sure to set it out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before using so that it softens slightly. This will make it much easier to roll out.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface until 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick, depending on how thick you want your cookies to be. I rolled mine out to about 1/4 inch thickness.
Use a circular cookie cutter to cut your dough into rounds. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are set and just begin to darken.
One the cookies have been baked off and cooled to room temperature, prepare the icing. Mix together all of the icing ingredients, except for the water, using a whisk attachment until smooth. If you don’t have lavender extract, just leave it out. The icing will still have a wonderful lemon flavor. You may want to add an extra half teaspoon of dried lavender to the dough, however, to ensure that you still get that lavender flavor coming through on your finished cookies.
Start adding the water one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached a good consistency. You’ll still want the icing to be thick enough to hold its shape when piped.
Divide the icing into three bowls. You will need more white icing than green or purple, so fill one of the bowls with more icing than the other two.
Color the two smaller bowls of icing green and purple using gel food colors.
Place all of the green and purple icing into piping bags fitted with #2 tips. Place 1/3 to 1/2 of the white icing in a piping bag fitted with a #3 tip. Add a little water to the remaining white icing so that it is a slightly runnier consistency. This will be your “flood icing”.
Set up a nice workstation with your cooled cookies, icing, and toothpicks.
Frost the white base for the cookies by piping a white border around the outside of the cookie, placing a dollop of flood icing inside the border, and using a toothpick to smooth the flood icing out to the edges of the border.
Let the icing dry for about an hour.
Once the base layer of icing has set, add the stem and leaves of the lavender flowers. I used a toothpick to pull out the sides of the leaves to make sure they tapered nicely at the ends.
Let the stems dry for about 15-30 minutes and then add the first layer of flowers. Pipe a series of dots up and down the stem, and use a toothpick to pull the bottom of the dot down to make a teardrop shape.
Let the first layer of flowers dry for 15-30 minutes before adding the second layer. This will prevent the flowers from running into each other and creating one large purple blob. After you have added 2-3 layers of flowers, the cookies are done! Enjoy 🙂
Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- zest of two lemons (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender, ground*
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp meringue powder
- 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lavender extract
- 3 Tablespoons water
- Shortbread: In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and powdered sugar.
- Add the lemon zest and dried lavender and mix to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour until slightly firm.
- Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface.
- Cut into rounds using a circular cookie cutter. Bake for about 10 minutes on parchment lined baking sheets in an oven preheated to 350 F. The cookies will be done when the edges are just starting to brown.
- Icing: Add all icing ingredients except for the water to a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium low speed until smooth.
- Add water one tablespoon at a time until icing reaches desired consistency. Icing should be stiff enough to hold its shape when piped. 8. Divide icing into three bowls, with one bowl having more icing than the other two. Color the two smaller bowls green and purple. Place all of the green and purple, and one third of the white icing into piping bags. Add water to the remaining white icing to thin it out slightly.
- Pipe a white border around the edge of each cookie, and fill with the thinner white icing. Use a toothpick to smooth the icing out to the border. Let icing dry for 1 hour.
- Use the green icing to pipe stems and leaves on each of the cookies. Let dry for 30 minutes.
- Add purple flowers to the stems by piping clusters of purple dots, and using a toothpick to pull the bottom of the dot down into a teardrop shape. Add flowers in 2 or 3 layers, allowing the previous flowers to dry for 15 to 30 minutes before adding more.
*Lavender can be ground using a mortar and pestle or food processor