Let's take a moment and talk about how the holidays up the ante on our schedules just a wee bit. I love the holiday season for its natural pause to reflect on our blessings, express gratitude and open our eyes a little bit wider as to where we can help out more when people are struggling. Beyond those heart warming thoughts, there's the snow (yay for first snow fall last night!), the music, the cookies and the gatherings. All amazing, right? They are...but somewhere around mid-December I realize that I've added the shopping, gatherings, and extra food prep without taking anything else out of the schedule. And that's why today's recipe is coming out during this holiday season.
I've been intrigued for a while about baking with lavender but I only recently took the plunge after getting out for lunch at Pickity Place in New Hampshire, which I would highly recommend! The gift shop is full of herbs (grown and dried on site) and I came across a container of culinary lavender that inspired me to begin this baking adventure. Although lavender typically brings thoughts of spring, this time of year leads me to thinking about ways to relax, which leads me to things like chamomile tea, dark chocolate and lavender. Hence, lavender brownies for the holidays!
I did a little bit of research as to options to incorporate the lavender flavor because I know it can be powerful and too much would not be a good thing. I tried this incorporation two ways. The first way was creating lavender sugar by storing a teaspoon of the dried lavender in an air tight jar with 1 cup of sugar for about one week. I found this flavor to be too subtle with the chocolate. I think it would be a nice option for other flavor combinations, but the rich chocolate of these brownies is a fierce competitor so I needed to strengthen the lavender to keep it noticeable. This brings me to the second option.. I ground 1 teaspoon of lavender in my Vitamix until it resembled a fine powder and then used the ground lavender with the sugar in the recipe. The result is a rich brownie with a hint of lavender in the chocolate. I hope you enjoy these and take a moment to slow down during this full month.
(makes 12 servings)
-1/2 cup butter at room temperature
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp culinary lavender ground into a fine powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and lavender until creamy. Add in eggs one at a time and continue to mix on low/medium speed until incorporated. Pour in your vanilla extract and mix together. Keeping the speed on low, pour in the dry ingredients and continue mixing until the wet and dry ingredients are fully integrated. Spray an 8"x 8" baking pan with non-stick spray or butter the pan to prevent the brownies from sticking once baked. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly in the pan with a rubber spatula (this batter is thick). Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until you can see the middle of the brownies is set and an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean (I think that a little fudgy texture in a brownie is a good thing). Allow the brownies to cool in the pan, then slice and enjoy. Don't forget to brew that chamomile tea, sit by the window and watch the snow!
Fitness and yoga lovin' wife, momma & home baker.