After visiting the Cache Creek Lavender Farm and getting my bottle of Culinary Lavender I figured it would be a while before I tracked down a recipe to cook. Imagine my surprise when the San Jose Mercury News had an entire article about cooking with lavender in the next weeks food section! Along with information on how to grow and dry lavender, they also included several recipes. Lavender-Smoked Salmon Fillets, Little Lavender Baskets (think egg noddles and chutney wrapped in lettuce) and, the one that caught my eye, Lavender Brownies.
These were okay, but I'll be honest. These brownies were not a hit. Quite a few folks just didn't like the slight lavender flavor. If you don't like the smell of lavender, you won't like these. And even some folks that like lavender in general, couldn't wrap their taste buds around lavender in food (one taster commented that it reminded her too much of her lavender bath soap at home). I liked them, good chocolate flavor with just a hint of lavender (you can add more of the culinary lavender to the batter, but I'd stick to just a bit). But I couldn't eat more than one at a time (Really? Only one brownie at a time? Maybe this is my new diet tool!!). I think these would make a great addition to a nice little tea party cut up in little squares on a plate surrounded by some dried lavender.
The article states that for a more intense lavender flavor you can add another teaspoon of the buds to the sugar mixture. The Mercury News adapted this recipe from one from "Bittersweet" by Alice Medrich.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lavender buds
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325. Put sugar and lavender buds in a food processor and pulse together.
Set a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add butter, lavender sugar, cocoa and salt, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the mixture becomes fairly smooth and hot. Remove from heat and let cool until the mixture is warm.
With a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla, then add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated, then stir the mixture vigorously 40 more strokes. Pour into an 8x8 baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil, making sure two ends overhang the edges of the pan.
Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a bit of batter on it. Let pan cool completely on a wire rack, then use the ends of the foil or parchment paper to lift the brownies out.
Makes 16 brownies.