Here’s the thing about hand-making most of your Christmas presents: its a lot of work. But let me be clear: I am not complaining. I know that I made the choice to hand-make my gifts. And in making that choice, I knew it would take time and energy. I did my best to budget my time and take on projects that weren’t too crazy and I did my best to enjoy the season. But, at the end of the day, you do have to put some time (and love) into handmade gifts. And when all is said and done, it can be a bit exhausting.
However, I feel that it is totally worth it. (My kitchen, on the other hand, might not feel the same way. It is a complete and utter disaster!) I ended up giving a my family (and a few friends) a combination of gifts. Not all were handmade, but I did my best to make the majority of my gifts. So, this is what I ended up making this year: cranberry orange liqueurs, spicy brown mustard, cranberry pear chutney, and salted honey lavender shortbread. And for non-food gifts, I even made my own scented reed diffusers! I was quite pleased.
So Christmas day has come and gone, and it was just wonderful. I got to spend quality time with my family, cook delicious things (I roasted a duck!), and came away feeling so spoiled and loved. In the spirit of over-sharing, I will now tell you a few of the things I received (in no particular order): a vintage bacon press (!), fresh Oregon black truffles (!!!), homemade wine jelly, a Blazers Jersey (LaMarcus! #12, baby!), vintage cookbooks, a peacock painting (by my extremely talented youngest sister), a Peugeot pepper grinder (with a lifetime warranty!), a meatloaf pan (from my father-in-law, who says that no chef can be without a proper meatloaf pan) and so much more. Upon closer inspection, it seems that my Christmas gifts speak volumes about me. Namely, that I am a nerd.
So, then, this nerd would like to share with you a recipe for salted honey lavender shortbread. While I gave out this shortbread for Christmas gifts (and yes, I know it is much to late to post about gift ideas), this shortbread is one for all occasions. It is simple, elegant, and I love the subtle floral element that the lavender brings to the buttery shortbread. In addition, I used culinary lavender that I got from my mother-in-law (she grows her own, and it is amaaaaaazing.) and so I have the distinct advantage of using the best lavender on the planet. If you are really really nice to me, I might lend you a little so that you can make this recipe.
Salted Honey Lavender Shortbread
(Adapted from Evil Shenanigans)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons honey (the better quality honey, the better the taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt, or to taste
*NOTE: I thought that my first batch of cookies came out a bit dry and so for my second batch, I used less flour than the original recipe calls for. However, I wasn’t baking at my house so I didn’t have access to a stand mixer, and my problems with the dough could have resulted from the lack of a proper mixer.
Heat the oven to 350 F and spray an 8 x 8″ pan with non-stick spray, line with parchment paper leaving a three inch overhang on either side, and spray the parchment. (*I didn’t have parchment paper onhand, so I buttered and floured the pan, and that worked just fine.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cornstarch, honey, kosher salt, vanilla, lavender, and butter. Blend on low speed until well mixed and smooth.
Press the dough evenly into the pan. Prick the top well with a fork, making sure not to press the fork completely though the dough.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of the cookies feel firm with lightly pressed and they are golden brown all over. Allow the cookies to cool five minutes then evenly sprinkle the tops with sea salt. Allow to cool for and additional thirty minutes in the pan.
Using the parchment overhang lift the shortbread from the pan (or, skip this step if you didn’t use parchment). Using a sharp knife, cut into squares. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Sprinkle with additional lavender and salt if you so desire.