Good Things Come to Those Who Slack


This post is so long overdue that I’m a little embarrassed to even blog it. Way back when, I bought lavender flower as a random splurge purchase, and asked you all what the eff I could do with this stuff. You gave me a ton of good ideas, and I was all gung-ho to make lavender pork rubs and lavender chicken and lavender chocolate cream pie. For my first step, I said I would make lavender shortbread cookies, since that sounded like the easiest.

I don’t know why I thought that sounded the easiest, considering I know eff all about baking. Even gansie called me out on that one.

gansie:  WHOA!

youre going to bake?

Well, four months later I finally put down the sautee pan and got around to it. Let me tell you, even though it involves baking and sugar and flowers and other sweet things, this is not a pretty story. Follow me after the jump. It’s gonna get ugly.

I started with this lavender shortbread cookie recipe. My first problem came with the very first direction: 1 1/2 cups butter (softened). Oops! I swear I did leave butter out to soften, but this was four months ago, when I first posted about lavender. By the time I actually got around to making this, there was no softened butter to be found in my kitchen.

A more patient man might have left butter out and waited an hour, but if you know anything about me by this point, you know that man is not me. Instead, I just melted the butter on the stovetop. I’m sure this is some kind of baking sin; feel free to lambaste me in the comments. Whatever, it gets worse.

I rolled my dough together and chopped in my lavender. I didn’t have fresh mint or lemon, as the recipe called for, but figured these were unessential. The dough certainly seemed fine without them. I thought about throwing in some almost-turning blueberries on the bottom shelf of my fridge but thought better of it and congratulated myself for being disciplined as I wrapped the dough up to chill for an hour.

Usually I am too impatient to let food chill for an hour (I mean, come on, there are cookies coming, how long can you be expected to wait?) But I felt bad about the butter fiasco so I decided to give the dough its due time. Instead of rushing it, I went about my business, cleaned my kitchen, went for a run, and took a shower (freelancing is productive!)

So I get back to the dough, about two-and-a-half hours later, thinking that leaving it in for longer than necessary was just fine, if not better, right? Noooooo. Untrue. The ball of dough was hard as a rock. Completely un-rollable. Even after I left it out for another half-hour and it chilled out, it was all crumbly and would not come together as dough should.

At this point I realized I had strayed far enough from the recipe that I might as well do whatever I wanted, so I threw an egg in there to wet it up a bit and bring it all back together. Realizing my jig as a disciplined baker was up, I said fuck it and threw in the blueberries. Pine nuts too. The directions call for you to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick, but it was way too wet for that now, so I just spooned it out and dropped balls of the dough on the cookie sheet, chocolate chip cookie style.

The baking part itself went by relatively un-disastrous. I kinda wanted them to be a little darker, but the bottoms started browning so I got scared and took ’em out.

The verdict: The lavender brings a sweet, earthy taste that I def like. The only prob is that sometimes you get a cookie that smells too strong of lavender and you just can’t help but think of soap. They don’t taste like soap, mind you, but that’s just what my nose associates lavender with. The cookie as a whole worked out well, but come on, it’s butter, sugar, and extras. How badly could even a non-baker like me screw it up?

I’d write out the recipe, but let’s face it, if you’re gonna take a stab at blueberry-pine nut-lavender shortbread, you’re probably not the recipe-following type either.

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  • Edouble August 29, 2008  

    I’m proud of you for attempting to bake. Something I shy away from, mostly because I forget about things once they’re in the oven.

    Never thought of pine nuts in a cookie…hmmm…

  • MonkeyBoy August 29, 2008  

    Next time roll it into a log before you chill it. Then once it’s chilled you can cut it into rounds with a knife. Some dough isn’t great for this but it saves you rolling it out.
    I never remember to soften the butter either, just toss the stick in the microwave for about 15 seconds and its good but still not melted.

  • gansie August 29, 2008  

    totally fucking dying (re: laughing) about your baking nightmare. baking is sooo hard. and they really make it look so easy on tv. the softened butter bit always messes me up too.

    and pine nuts in a cookie. revolutionary!

  • Beth August 29, 2008  

    That was too funny. The rolling in to a log works great. I’ve left dough like that in the fridge for up to 4 days. And Pine nuts are great in cookies. Think walnuts, pecans, almonds etc. Seriously, I’ve worked in a bread and cookie bakery for about 5 years, was a pastry (untrained) chef and still fuck up more than I will admit to. Kudos on trying. You’ll get it or come to my bakery and we’ll have it for you. 🙂

  • BS's Mom August 29, 2008  

    Didn’t the NY Times Dining section have a recipe with lavender this Wednesday? Somehow the thought of sweet-smelling anything in a recipe turns me off.

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