With temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees F. (just shy of 38 degrees C.), I am not about to put the oven on to bake these decadent treats. I recently saw a recipe for cooking brownies in a slow cooker and thought, why not give it a try with cookies? The results are, in a word, spectacular!
Baking cookies in a crock pot might seem as strange to you as baking cookies flavored with lavender. Lavender is not the first herb that comes to mind when I think of herbs for culinary use. Indeed, there is a fine line between flavorful and foul. A very light touch is all one needs when cooking with lavender, and the variety of lavender is equally important. Too much, or the wrong variety, and your cookies will have a soapy, perfume taste.
|L. angustifolia "Munstead"|
The amount of camphor in a particular lavender's biochemical make-up is what most affects whether it is more or less suitable for culinary use.
In my experience, the lavenders of the group Lavandula angustifolia (often referred to as the English lavenders) are my favorites for cooking.
|L. intermedia x "Provence"|
"Hidcote" has taller flower spikes and makes more attractive long stemmed dried bunches and swags, but it doesn't fare as well in our micro-climate. Although "Hidcote" is zoned for our area (and even a zone colder still), I have had no luck overwintering it even with winter protection.
You can buy lavender for culinary use in specialty shops but drying your own is simple and can be done quite easily in the microwave.
The first step is to pick some lavender. I like to choose stems with only a few to no more than a third of the flowers open. The flavor of the flowers is less intense than the bud and so having some buds open can help temper the intense flavor.
If you're picking it fresh from the garden to use in a recipe, you can use it without drying it first but trying to mince it finely enough can be a challenge. Since it does carry a punch of flavor, a better way to blend it into food is by drying it and then grinding it into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle.
To dry it in the microwave, lay out several flower spikes and a few leaves (for garnish and flavor) on two layers of paper toweling on a paper plate. Cover with another paper towel and microwave until it's dry.
This much lavender takes 2-3 minutes and it is best to do in 30 second increments. The microwave will fill with steam from the moisture in the blooms.
After each 30 second increment of time, open the door so the steam can escape and then set it for another 30 seconds.
After the lavender is dry to the touch, let it sit for a few hours to completely dry throughout. That will allow any remaining moisture to evaporate and makes grinding it in a mortar and pestle much easier.
Grind the buds and flowers to a very fine powder, removing any bits of stem that might have inadvertently fallen in. You can also dry rose petals the same way, and use a mixture of rose petals and lavender for a really delightful, unique flavor.
To prepare the crock pot, spray the inside with non-stick baking spray and line the inside of the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
The parchment paper helps you to lift the cookie out when it is completely cooked, so use a piece very slightly wider than the width of the crock pot and let the long ends come up each side (don't trim) of the crock pot as these will be used to lift the cookie out when it is finished baking.
Here is my recipe. You can use lavender buds and blossoms or a mixture of lavender and rose petals. I find that the petals from the Sterling Silver hybrid tea rose make an exceptionally flavorful cookie as the taste, like the fragrance, is a combination of rose and citrus that blends well with lavender and lemon.
Cathy's Lavender Lemon Crock Pot Cookies
1 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon dried, ground lavender buds and blossoms (or a mix of lavender and rose petals)
3/4 cup sugar or granulated sugar substitute
3 jumbo eggs slightly beaten
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean crush or vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
Prepare the crock pot by spraying with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper but do not preheat.
Cream the butter and sugar or sugar substitute and then add in eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder, and lemon juice and zest. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Add in flour and continue to mix. The batter should be very thick but "sticky". Adjust the amount of flour slightly as needed.
Turn the batter into the crock pot and spread it evenly over the bottom. It does not have to be spread tightly against the sides. Cover the crockpot and cook the cookie on High for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Crock pots may vary considerably. It may take considerably more or less time to cook than stated. The top should be a pale golden brown, the bottom slightly darker. If the bottom begins to darken, reduce the temperature to Low.
After the cookie is done, lift it out and cool for about 10 minutes on a rack, just so they can be handled comfortably. Then cut into individual cookie bars using a large knife, making diagonal cuts to the left and right, which will give diamond shaped cookies. Allow them to finish cooling before glazing.
For conventional baking, preheat an oven to 350 degrees F and drop teaspoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet to bake.
Lavender Lemon Cookie Glaze
2 cups 10X confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
water - 2-3 teaspoons
1 teaspoon dried ground lavender blossoms
small amount of dried, unground lavender buds for garnish
teaspoon or so fresh lemon zest for garnish
Combine sugar, lemon juice, and dried ground lavender blossoms. (Dried ground rose petals can also be used.) Add only enough water to get the glaze to the desired thickness. I like it to be pretty thick, thick enough to spread but still "soupy" enough to drip over the sides.
Glaze cookies and allow the glaze to drip along the sides. If the glaze is very thin, you can add a second layer. Then sprinkle whole buds and zest over the top. Makes abotu 2 dozen 1 inch diamonds.