"Is this cookie lavender?" Sarah looked up from her herb snipping with a big grin. "I hope it's cookie lavender!"
Most people probably associate lavender with soap or maybe perfume, but not cookies! Who has ever heard of lavender cookies?
let's start with the obvious: yes, they smell like lavender! (and
butter, if that helps) The scent is either intoxicating or...well,
off-putting might be an appropriate term. I have taken these to several
parties and I love the reactions.
people smell them and immediately get the lavender scent. I can tell
because the response is usually a skrinched nose accompanied by a
moment while a polite way of ask if they contain...umm, err, soap is sought. (Seriously, I can see the wheels whir. The thought goes: "These smell like soap! OMG! I can't say that? But she knows how to cook! How could she...but she must have tasted one...but...SOAP!" So far, I haven't laughed, but it is getting harder.)
Others simply can't identify the scent.
once in a while, a sniff is met with an arched eyebrow, and an
inquisitive glance. Those people get a special little note in my
internal list of people I can suck into tasting weird creations. Err, I
mean recipe testers!
bite, however, and the cookies have gained a fan. Never fails. These
tender little cookies are melt-in-your-mouth buttery with a delicately
floral taste. Nary a hint of soap.
There are several types of
lavender commonly available, but for culinary uses, English Lavender is
what most cooks choose. Most other lavenders are too strong, being
either more camphorous than sweet or simply overwhelmingly flowery.
enough, English lavender is actually not a scientific designation of
lavender. This common name refers to a number of lavender species with
the most common being Lavandula angustifolia officinalis, which is most common and prized for its sweet scent and flavor along with superb oil quality. The Lavandula angustifolia species "Hidcote," "Munstead," and "Melissa," along with Lavandula intermedia "Provence" are amongst the favorites for cooking.
only a handful of lavenders are suitable for culinary uses, there are a
number of others that definitely deserve a spot in your garden. Some of
my favorites are:
Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) has lovely bracts, often
called "rabbit's ears" or "wings," making it one of the showiest garden
lavenders. I have half a dozen different Spanish Lavender species,
including several shades of purple and one or two pinks, but this yellow lavender (said to smell of lavender and rosemary) is going on my endlessListOfThingsIWant right now!
French lavender (Lavandula dentata) has finely-toothed leaf edges and small, pale purple flowers. It is another attractive, and less common, plant for the garden.
Lavandin (Lavandula intermedia) is a hybrid cross between L. angustifolia and Lavandula stoechas with particularly long flower stalks. Lavandin is commonly used for perfume oil and is also common in gardens.
Woolly lavender (Lavandula lanata) has silver leaves and dark purple flowers, making it a beautiful landscaping plant.
Sweet Lavender (Lavandula heterophylla) is an oddly named plant as it is far too camphorous to use in cooking. It is one of the tallest lavenders, however, with spikes of up to 4 feet.
Cookie Lavender (Lavandula cookieus),
which isn't a species, but should be, is usually Munstead, but
occasionally Melissa, or even Alba, grown in my front garden bed. Soon in Sarah's garden too.