The sun finally feels like it is beginning to come out of hibernation, indulging in a few more precious moments with me each day. After spending a winter in England, I realized just how dependent I am on her warm rays. The cloudy English skies and brilliant fogs, while a novelty at first, grew to become oppressive. I soon felt as withered as the waning plant I kept in my windowsill; the plant turning a shade of brown as it slowly tossed its leaves to the floor. Each day the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds, my energy drained ever so slightly from my limbs, taking a small part of my spirit with it.
The sun, I have discovered, is the cure to the simplest case of winter blues.
As a respite from trudging through foot high snow drifts and scraping the frost off frozen windshields, the sun brought the feeling of spring the last few days. With temperatures above freezing for the first time in months, I shed my winter coat and walked around in a simple sweatshirt. Though it was still far to cold outside for such antics, I wanted to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, to absorb the glow deep into my skin, to replenish the energy a winter of bone chilling temperatures took away.
The sun's rare gift of spring will quickly decline back into winter, but I feel recharged, ready to put back on my mittens and wrap a scarf back around my neck.
With a feeling of spring in the air, I was taken back briefly to the flavors of last summer and a resplendent glass of my summer drink of choice—Lavender Lemonade. Even though it is too soon to dream of enjoying a glass while basking in the hot summer sun, I could not resist but bring the flavors together in a new form.
Shortbread is a clean slate in terms of flavor. The buttery, sandy texture of shortbread, while lovely on its own, lends itself well to simple mix-ins. The zest of a couple lemons and the subtle scent of lavender brought a feeling of spring into my kitchen, the aroma hanging in the air long after the cookies emerged from the oven.
Lavender Lemon Shortbread brings a bright, refreshing flavor to a winter's afternoon. The classic sandy texture of shortbread meets lemon zest and lavender buds. The lemon is the predominant flavor while the lavender imparts a subtle tone to the overall profile. To add extra sweetness, the cookies are rolled with lemon-scented sugar before heading into the oven. These shortbread cookies are best accompanied with a warm beverage and visions of spring.
Note: Please be sure to use culinary lavender and not lavender labeled for another purpose, which may be sprayed with pesticides or coated in inedible solutions. Edible lavender can readily be found in most health food stores.
Lavender Lemon Shortbread
Yields about 1 1/2 dozen
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (45 grams) powdered sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, divided
1/2 teaspoon lavender buds, ground or chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, zest of 1 lemon, lavender, vanilla, and salt until the mixture looks like a coarse sand. Mix in the flour until the dough comes together.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining lemon zest and granulated sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out shortbread until 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle on the lemon scented sugar and lightly press it into the shortbread with the rolling pin. Cut out shapes and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.