Lavender Shortbread

I'm a fan of shortbread, and this one is very unique.  If you don't care for lavender, you could substitute dried tea leaves or another kind of herb.  You can find dried lavender flowers in the bulk section of your local food co-op.

I first heard of this recipe from my painting teacher.  (You just never know where the next great recipe will come from!)  I later found this version in a book, which I think is better because it uses cornstarch (which makes the shortbread more tender) and makes thicker slabs of shortbread.  My friend, Diana, agrees!

Lavender Shortbread
Makes 12 wedges
Adapted from Cookies, Brownies and Bars by Elinor Klivans

1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 Tblsp dried lavender flowers
2 cups white flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9 1/2" cake pan with parchment paper.

Grind the lavender with the sugar in a food processor or a clean coffee grinder.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and lavender sugar together until creamy white and smooth, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough forms large clumps.

Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan with a rubber spatula.  Prick the entire surface of the dough with a fork 1/4" deep at 1 1/2 inch intervals.  Bake until lightly golden, about 45 minutes.  (Note that the shortbread in the photo above is too dark.  It should be just barely golden.)

Use a heavy sharp knife to cut the warm shortbread into 12 wedges.  Let cool in the pan.  Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.