Saturday, December 10, 2011

Like the snow, lavender shortbread has returned

As a great woman once said, it's cookie time.

I'm a student again. That means two things: I spend time in the kitchen when I'm avoiding school work, and I'm too poor to buy gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season.

My plan instead is to keep my pantry stocked and buy tins of Danish cookies. J eats most of them and then I will refill them with my own homemade goodies.

Lavender shortbread cookies are easy peasy. I discovered them last winter when I came upon a large packet of dried lavender flours at Planet Organic in Edmonton.

Cut up 1 cup of soft unsalted butter. Cream in a large bowl with 1/4 cup white sugar. In another bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Pour dry into wet and stir until combined.
Add 2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers and mix well.
When your cookie dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface.

Flour your hands and begin kneading the dough
Press your palms and the heels of your hands into the dough and push down and away.

Gently pick up the dough and rotate it 90 degrees.

Keep your hands floured with a dish of extra nearby.

Repeat this process 5 times in total. Kneading cookie
dough is important because it makes sure everything is of the same consistency and that your dough will not crumble to pieces.

Divide the dough in half and shape into two balls. Put one dough ball aside.

Re-flour your surface and put the dough in the middle. As the butter in the dough continues to soften with handling, the dough will become sticker, so lots of extra flour is important.

Flour a large rolling pin and roll out the
dough. It should take about 3 or 4 rolls. Make sure you keep rotating the dough 90 degrees as you roll or you will have a big mess and no cookies.

The dough should be about 1/4" in thickness.

This dough here is very happy. It can't wait to be cookies.

Cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Keep re-rolling up your scraps of dough until you've used up both halves.

The shapes can be placed close together, about 1/2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake them one sheet at a time in the middle rack of a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. They are done when they are browned at the edges.

Look at all the happy cookies. They will make friends and family (and me) very joyful indeed.

These shapes all came in a package from
the dollar store. You can find all kinds of fancy or strange ones. The hearts and stars of david are classic choices, but we liked that our pack also came with a teddy bear, an elephant, and a hippopotamus.

I made lots of all of the shapes. The elephants are pretty rad.

I played with them when I put them on the pan before going in the oven and when they came out a few elephants were walking one after the other like they do in the jungle.

But I'm not in the jungle. I'm in snowy Montreal.
So I will keep making cookies and bringing a little extra warmth to the kitchen with my powerful little oven.

That is a very lonely hippopotamus. Of all the cookies in the batch, there was only one hippopotamus.

Here's the recipe:
1 Cup cool unsalted butter
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Cup flour
1/4 Cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.
Measure out lavender and set aside.
Mix other dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add dry ingredients to creamed butter and sugar. Stir until ingredients begin to become incorporated.
Add lavender and stir until well blended.

Turn out onto floured surface. Knead 5 times. Divide dough in half and roll out to 1/4" thickness. Cut into shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Cool on a rack.
Cookies will keep in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks. They get better with age.

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