When I posted a rosemary cookie recipe online last summer, a sweet commenter suggested that I use lavender as an ingredient in the future. I was thrilled to have a recommendation, and I loved the idea of it. After all, I really appreciate the beautiful, fragrant lavender bushes I walk by daily in my neighborhood.
Yet, despite both my fondness of lavender and its growing popularity in desserts, I was hesitant to reach for the flowers as a baking ingredient. You see, when I tried to make sweets with it many years ago, the resulting taste brought to mind fragrant bath soap (wince!); I quickly discarded the whole sheet of cookies and brushed my teeth. While I knew the real problem was that I’d used far too many flowers, I decided that eating lavender was just not my thing.
But I’ve baked hundreds of cookies since then, and now was certainly time for a fresh, open look at the possibilities of lavender. After mulling it over for a while, I decided on biscotti because of its twice-baked process, which tends to mellow the flavors of whatever one puts in it. The result was as delicious as it was transformational. Ever since I made these biscotti, a whiff of lavender now fills my mind with cookies instead of soap!
Here is how I made them…
[makes about 24 small (3” long) biscotti]
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted nuts)
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup whole almonds
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1.5 teaspoon whole anise seeds
- 1.5 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Using a mortar & pestle or the back of a spoon, smash the anise and lavender just a bit to break them up and release their flavor. In a separate, large bowl, beat together the sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt (if using) over the egg mixture; mix well. Add the lavender and anise, mixing until evenly distributed. Fold in the nuts.
On the prepared cookie sheet, form a log about 15” long, 1.25” wide, and 1” tall. Bake the loaf 26-29 minutes, until center is firm to the touch and surface looks dry and is starting to crack. Remove from oven, and once it’s cool enough to handle, transfer loaf from cookie sheet to cutting board in order to speed cooling. Let loaf cool until room temperature (about 20 minutes), then use a sharp serrated knife to carefully cut loaf diagonally into ½” slices. Set slices back on baking sheet, cut side down, and return to 325 F oven for 7-9 minutes. Remove and flip cookies to opposite sides, baking for another 7-9 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
While quite flavorful, these biscotti aren’t too sweet. To make them a little sweeter (and prettier), top them with some icing if desired. Whisk together 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle icing over the tops of cooled biscotti, then let them dry completely. Alternately, melted chocolate or white chocolate would work well.
Maybe next time… Almost any nuts (chopped or whole) could be delicious in place of almonds. I found that the lavender and anise paired well together, but if you like one of these more than the other, freely adjust their ratios. Finally, this is a rather small recipe, but it’s easy to double (just bake two logs alongside each other). After all, the more cookies, the better!