A few weeks ago when I wrote about 70’s fragrances. A gentleman commented that they were annoyed by any fragrance with lavender. I think many men dislike the scent of lavender for some reason. I read recently that lavender oil (and tea tree oil) suppresses male hormones and increases female hormones, but I also read soy products do the same thing. Maybe that's why many men dislike lavender.
I know I fell into that category of disliking lavender for most of my life, until a few years ago when a friend gave me a bar of fancy lavender soap. It was as though I smelled lavender for the very first time.
The fragrance is suppose to relieve stress—maybe I had reached a certain stress level in my life (it seemed like it) to appreciate it’s relaxing fragrance. Who knows? But it started a full-on lavender binge—bathing soap with lavender, shampoo with lavender, dish washing soap with lavender, lavender honey, lavender ice cream, and cooking with lavender.
Mr. Peacock even tortured a house guest with horrible “lavender” martinis (sorry Seema), and Jason asked me, "...not lavender chicken again!?" Since then, I’ve mellowed out on the lavender and limited my use of this distinct scent to only dishwashing liquid, and an occasional lavender cookie (yes, lavender cookies—see photo at top).
A cookbook I acquired in 2004, called Aroma-The Magic of Essential Oils in Food & Fragrance, has a wonderful recipe for lavender shortbread cookies. It’s a classic shortbread recipe, but with just a touch of lavender oil added into the dough. It makes a delicate and fragrant cookie—I love them! (photo above on one of my vintage Vera tablecloths).
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 40 to 50 cookies
Adapted from the cookbook Aroma
½ cup white sugar
10-12 drops of lavender essential oil (preferably organic)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8 oz.)
1 large egg
2 ½ cups flour
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons course demerara sugar (for sprinkling the tops)
1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender flowers (my friend Seema gave me some organic lavender grown at Esalen down in beautiful Big Sur, California)
1) In a food precessor, blend the sugar and essential oil for 15 seconds, until well combined. Add salt and then the butter and pulse until well incorporated. Add the egg and pulse. Add the flour and carefully pulse until the dough forms—don’t overwork the dough.
2) Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface and flip the contents from the food processor onto the plastic wrap. Gather the dough together and split into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 2 inches in diameter and maybe 8 inches long. Sometimes I shape them into long cubes, like sticks of butter. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about an hour (or up to 2 months well wrapped).
3) Preheat oven 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silipat. Take the cookie log from freezer and slice into ¼ inch thick discs. If the dough is too hard to slice, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Carefully arrange the discs a few inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
4) Whisk the egg white with a fork in a small bowl until frothy. Brush the top of each cookie with a bit of egg white and sprinkle with demarera sugar and few lavender flowers (optional).
5) Bake until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Your entire kitchen will be in a cloud of lavender and cookie aromas. Let these shortbread cookies cool on a rack. The flavor and texture will improve when they are completely cooled. Enjoy.
The book Aroma, by the way, is an essential book for any cookbook enthusiasts collection. The tagline on the cover says, “Experience the power of fragrance, more than 100 startling original recipes.” Aroma is coauthored by Daniel Patterson, chef and owner of San Francisco restaurant Coi, and Mandy Aftel, custom perfumer extraordinaire and owner of Aftelier Perfumes. This wonderful and beautiful book has some very unique recipes using fragrance—both edible and non-edible (bath salts, colognes, etc…).
You can order organic chef's essential oils (above) and other fragrant organic roducts directly from Mandy Aftel's Berkeley, California store—Aftelier Perfumes.
As I said, I don't think many men like the scent of lavender—do you? Whether you like lavender or not—I hope you have a relaxing weekend and make some lavender shortbread cookies. Let me know if you like them.