Month: March 2015

Lemon-Lavender Cookies!

lemon-lavender cookies

One day, my friend Emily came into the costume shop where we work raving about the lemon-lavender cookies from the coffee shop down the street.  She said something like “Janco, if you can make these, I’ll be eternally happy.”  Or maybe she just promised to not sass me so much at work.  Either way, it was an invitation and an inspiration to make something I’ve never made before.  Plus, I had plenty of extra lavender from making my Tonic Syrup.

I told her I’d need to try some of Zest (the coffee shop)’s cookies first before making my own version.  These cookies apparently sell out every day by noon, so it was a few weeks later when she finally brought one in for us to try.  It was large, soft, dense, and crackly–the kind of cookie that looks like it was rolled in sugar before being baked.  The surprising part was that it was glazed, with lavender flowers sprinkled on top.  It was very lemony, not quite so lavender-y, which was strange considering all that lavender on top.

lemon-lavender cookies

So my spring break happened, and I hit the kitchen!  Well, first I hit the internet, looking for the kind of sugar cookie I wanted.  Most of my search results were for the doughy white cutouts that you decorate at Christmas.  This isn’t what I wanted.  I wanted a cookie that looked like it could stand up on its own without any frosting, plus crackled edges.  I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website, and decided it would be my starting point.  I increased the amount of lemon, added some lavender, and rolled it in sugar before putting it in the oven.

lemon-lavender cookies

And voila, these appeared!  They are marvelous on their own, no icing needed.  However, I wanted these to be like Zest’s, so I made a glaze for them, putting lavender there as well–and it turned the glaze pink overnight!  Some I sprinkled with extra lavender, some just had the icing, and some I left plain.  We couldn’t decide which were better.

lemon-lavender cookies

These also passed the Father Test.  My dad doesn’t seem like the kind of person that would enjoy “eating flowers”, but he actually really appreciated these cookies. And that’s how you know they’re good.

lemon-lavender cookies

Lemon-Lavender Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

3 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 3/4 cups Sugar, plus more for rolling

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

Juice of 1 Lemon

3 tsp. ground Lavender (I used a mortar and pestle for a rough grind)

1 cup Unsalted Butter (look for the kind with “cream” as the ONLY ingredient)

2 Large Eggs

1 cup Powdered Sugar

A few drops of Vanilla

Extra whole Lavender flowers (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to combine, set aside.

Combine the 1 3/4 cups sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons of ground lavender in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on to combine until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add butter and mix on medium-to-high speed until creamed–light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, followed by 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.  Slowly add the flour mixture until combined.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop cookie dough using a 2-inch (or in my case, two scoops from a 1-inch) scoop, and roll into balls using your hands.  Roll the dough balls in the extra sugar to coat them, and place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.  Press down halfway with your hand.

Bake for 15 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden and slightly crackled on the edges.  Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

Make the glaze– combine the powdered sugar with the rest of the lemon juice, vanilla, and remaining 1 teaspoon of ground lavender.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon over each cookie, spreading around evenly.

Sprinkle with whole lavender flowers if desired.  Let the glaze dry.

NOTE: This recipe makes enough icing for about half of the cookies.  To make more icing, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to another cup of powdered sugar, and add a few more drops of vanilla and another teaspoon of ground lavender.

Enjoy, with a cup of lemony tea!

Tonic Syrup

Tonic Syrup

As promised, this next recipe is my attempt at Pinch and Swirl’s Homemade Tonic Water.  Not long after turning “of age”, I discovering that vodka and tonic is darn tasty–and refreshing, which is not something that you often come by when bartenders suggest drinks for 21-year-old females. Contrary to your belief, I came here to taste something besides sugar, thank you.  So I set out to make them at the apartment.  I soon learned, however, that the name-brand tonic water at the local grocery store was not much more than “carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, and natural flavors”.  I’m not about to get into a controversial discussion of that little bugger listed in the middle there, but I’ve got to say that I do not like the sensation of it in my face.  You know what I’m talking about–sodas sweetened with it now leave that weird feeling on your teeth that you don’t get from the “throwback” versions made with real sugar.  Plus, I was super curious as to just what kinds of “natural flavors” were in there.

These ones.  It's these flavors that are in there.

These ones. It’s these flavors that are in there.

A quick internet search led me almost directly to Pinch and Swirl, and for good reason!  Marissa, the owner of this lovely site, and her husband did a lot of work to come up with this recipe.  So, I dared trust it 100% as it is written–something I rarely do.  I bought all of the exotic ingredients, rationalizing that I’ll only have to do it once–til the syrup runs out, of course.  I even had extras of some of them (one of which I’ll use in my next recipe, Lemon-Lavender Cookies).  I followed Marissa’s directions, and on the third day, there was tonic syrup (please, everyone read that like a preacher).  The only thing I did not do was strain it finely right away.  I took the big chunks out with the help of a sieve, but I had gotten cheesecloth on the internet for the purpose of straining it finely, and the kind that came to me wasn’t fine enough.  So, I waited until I went home next to grab some coffee filters from my parents.  I vastly underestimated how much time it would take for now-sugary syrup to strain through these filters.  Have patience, friends, and you shall be rewarded with non-sediment-y, delicious, citrus-y, slightly herbaceous tonic syrup made “throwback” style.

Just combined...

Just combined…

...Three days later, just strained.

…Three days later, just strained.

Tonic Syrup

Yield: About 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 1/2 c. water

1/4 c. (1 oz) chopped cinchona bark

1/4 c. citric acid

Zest of 3 limes

Zest of 3 lemons

Zest of 2 oranges

3 stalks of lemongrass (check your grocery store’s organic section–you need fresh, not dried)

4 allspice berries

3 cardamom pods

1 tablespoon lavender

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Plus:

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

Method:

Combine first 11 ingredients in a glass container with a seal.  Shake to combine, and place in the refrigerator, continuing to shake at least once daily.  Keep refrigerated for 72 hours.  After 72 hours, strain the big pieces out, then strain again with a coffee filter.

Place the sugar and extra 1 cup of water in a pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.  Transfer to a heat-proof container and allow to cool.

Combine the cooled sugar syrup with the strained liquid, stirring to fully incorporate.  Transfer the tonic syrup to a storage container, and store in the fridge.

To make tonic water–add syrup to taste to sparkling water.  Marissa suggests 1/2 oz—or half a pony, if you’re measuring with a jigger—per glass.  I say a little more never hurt anybody.

Notes: I followed Marissa’s advice and got my dried herbs from Penn Herb Company.  Need something to do with all that zested citrus?  Check out my Citrus Nectar that came to be because of this recipe.  Tonic water is a source of quinine, a now-unused natural medicine to treat malaria, which is what gives the water its signature bitterness.  It is extracted from the cinchona bark in this recipe by the citric acid.

Citrus Nectar

citrus nectar

Hello, my friends who will still come to visit even when I miss a post!  It’s a Sunday post this time, with warning that there will be no Thursday post–my theatre life forbids it this week.  Ha.  Anyway, this recipe came as a result of the next one you’ll see on here–my homemade Tonic Syrup.  The tonic syrup takes a lot of citrus zest, and I didn’t want the juice to go to waste.  The fantastic Kool-Aid-like color comes from blood orange juice.  Because Heaven forbid that my local grocery store restock its produce section–there were no normal oranges.  But this would be equally tasty with normal ones, I’m guessing (though it is quite fun with the pink color).

citrus nectar

I call it Citrus Nectar because it’s sweet, sparkly, tart, and not solely lemonade.  I’m sure that drinking this when you feel a cold coming on would kick that right out of your system.  Looks like a sports drink, tastes better than a sports drink, and is probably better for you than a sports drink.  Citrus Nectar for the win!

citrus nectar

Citrus Nectar:

Yield: About 6 cups

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 3 lemons

Juice of 3 limes

3/4 c. sugar (adjust to taste)

40 oz sparkling water

Method:

Combine all ingredients, stirring to help dissolve sugar.  For best taste, let sit in refrigerator overnight to completely dissolve sugar and let flavors meld.  Enjoy!