Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lemon Almond Lavender Cookies by Lauren of Do Not Feed the Editor

Today's guest post & recipe is shared by Lauren of  Do Not Feed the Editor.

I’m not a purely gluten-free baker, but I believe that everyone deserves to eat delicious baked goods. When a friend who hadn’t had a cookie since discovering her wheat allergy came to visit, I created these lemon-lavender-almond cookies for her.

If you’ve never used culinary-grade lavender before but enjoy herbal flavors, I think you’ll become as fast a fan of it as I have. It can be purchased directly from farmers (like North Carolina’s excellent Mountain Farm), from a market with an extensive dry-goods stock (if you’re in the Atlanta area, look in the tea section of Dekalb Farmer's Market), or from Amazon, and it lends a depth of flavor to quickbreads, cookies, brewed tea, and even summery cocktails.

These cookies are buttery & chewy, with a sweet toastiness and added tenderness from the almond meal and lovely hints of bitterness from the lemon zest and lavender flowers. They were a bit crumbly right out of the oven, but firmed up into perfect chewiness the following day – so consider making them ahead. Too delicate for coffee, I think they’d be perfect served with a cup of black tea. Perhaps with a bit of lavender brewed in?

Lemon-Almond-Lavender Cookies
Makes 2 to 3 dozen

1.5 tsp dried culinary-grade lavender buds, minced fine
1 lemon worth of zest (~1 tbsp), minced
1/3 cup almond meal (store-bought or home-ground from blanched almonds)
1 cup rice flour, sifted to remove any large grainy bits
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar (if you don't have this, omit the baking soda and use 1 1/2 tsp baking powder to substitute for both)
1/8 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp amaretto, if you happen to have some (a teensy dash of almond extract might not go awry as a substitution for this -- maybe 1/4 tsp? Distilled liquors and extracts are generally gluten-free, but always check your labels!)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar for rolling the cookies in
An extra few pinches of lavender buds for decoration

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and grease your baking sheet, then dust the sheet with a tablespoon of rice flour, tapping to distribute and discard the excess.
Combine the dry ingredients (lavender, zest, almond meal, rice flour, salt, and leavening agent/s) in a medium bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine.
In a larger bowl, measure out your butter and sugar. Using an electric beater on medium speed, cream them together for 2 minutes. Add your egg, lemon juice, and any amaretto/almond extract you're using and beat for another minute to incorporate evenly. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix manually with a spoon to combine.
Place that extra 1/4 cup of sugar in a small dish or on a small plate. Take a rounded teaspoonful of dough from the bowl and roll it into a ball in your hands, then roll it in the sugar to coat. Flatten it slightly by either pressing the ball into a sort of scallop-shaped disk with your fingers, or just put a thumbprint in it once it’s on the baking sheet (a good couple inches apart from its cookie compatriots). Sprinkle two or three lavender buds on top of each cookie and bake for 7–10 minutes. You can tell these are done when they're golden around the edges and look dry on top. Also, they'll be more springy than mushy if you gently poke the top with a finger.
Allow the cookies to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet, then remove them to a wire rack until they're completely cool and can be removed to your belly a decorative plate that you will obviously share with your friends.
These keep very well in a sealed container for two or three days. If you'd like to make the dough ahead, you could seal it up and refrigerate it for up to a week or freeze it for up to 3 months, sans sugar coating, and then coat & bake on demand.

About Lauren:

Lauren wants everyone to eat tasty things, and hopes that her restaurant reviews and recipes at Do Not Feed the Editor encourage people to do just that. When she’s not writing or eating, Lauren is usually editing medical manuscripts, picture books, or strange novels – or failing to convince her dog that really-for-seriously, neither soccer balls nor thunderstorms are out for blood.

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