This beautifully rich Lemon Lavender Shortbread is full of zesty lemon flavour with delicious subtle bursts of floral lavender in every bite. It literally melts in your mouth and has perfect shortbread "snappability"!
I was given the challenge of making shortbread as good as 'real butter' shortbread after I joked with someone that anything they could cook, I could cook better and vegan. Having never attempted vegan shortbread before I was slightly worried that I might not be able to keep my word but after the success of my Chocolate & Coconut Cream Cookies and my Vegan Digestive Biscuits I knew I had a pretty good chance.
I started with my Chocolate & Coconut Cream Cookie recipe and adapted it until I got the perfect shortbread texture. I try my best to use whole-food ingredients in almost all of my recipes but occasionally all purpose flour and refined sugar is what is necessary to get the best results. I figure that as long as I eat whole foods most of the time, the odd indiscretion won't hurt too much. I did try using unrefined sugar in this recipe, but after experimenting with powdered sugar realized that the results were much better.
Be aware when buying sugar, especially refined varieties, that it often is not vegan. You might be horrified to hear that charred animals bones are often used to bleach and filter it. I buy Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Powdered Confectioner's Sugar as it is certified vegan but I am sure there are other varieties available too.
Using the powdered sugar gives these Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies their characteristic melt in the mouth shortbread texture. If you struggle to get hold of vegan powdered sugar it is possible to make your own by putting regular sugar in a food processor or blender until it becomes a fine powder. Don't try substituting granulated sugar for the powdered sugar in this recipe because you won't get the same results.
If you have never tried cooking with lavender you might be a little wary of using it here. Please don't be. The combination of the lemon and lavender is just beautiful. They are two flavours that work extremely well together especially in shortbread.
As far as I know all varieties of lavender are edible but some taste better than others due to lower camphor levels. Lavandula Angustifolia, otherwise known as English Lavender is the best variety to use for cooking and is also a very common plant. However, you really don't want your shortbread to end up tasting like cough medicine so unless you are very sure of what variety your lavender is, I would be safe and use culinary lavender. It can usually be found with the herbs and spices in grocery stores. It is also available from Amazon here (this is an affiliate link - see bottom of post for more details).
It took quite a few attempts to get this recipe just right but it was so worth the effort. These Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies are unbelievably delicious and their texture is just perfect. They 'snap', they 'crumble' and most importably they taste amazing with their zesty lemon flavour and delicious subtle bursts of floral lavender. You can make them and eat them all yourself, but bear in mind that they also make a wonderful gift. Buy a pretty little box or bag from a craft store and they would be perfect to gift to a special teacher at the end of this school year.
I personally think that this recipe beats regular 'butter' shortbread hands down. It has the same 'short' texture and the flavour is a real winner. Let me know if you agree by leaving your feedback below.
Just another quick note - I often use cups for measurement but in this recipe weight measurements are best. Cup sizes vary depending on where you are in the world and how you scoop it/pour it in makes a huge difference to how much the cup holds. In a lot of recipes you can get away with slight variations but with this one, being accurate is key to good results.
Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies
- 40g / ⅓ cup natural powdered sugar
- 100g / ½ cup coconut oil , hard (refined or unrefined if you don't mind a slight hint of coconut - if your kitchen is on the warmer side and your coconut oil is soft put it in the fridge to firm up before you start)
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt (see recipe note)
- 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers
- 2 lemons , zested (you only need the zest for this recipe)
- 165g / 1⅓ cup all purpose flour (plain flour in the UK)
- 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk , try not to use the milk. Only add it if you really cannot get it to come together without as it affects the texture of the shortbread.
- light granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Combine the powdered sugar, salt and the coconut oil in a bowl. Use a fork to mash together very, very well until you can no longer see any powdered sugar and it's light and fluffy. You can use a food processor to do this part too if you prefer.
- Add the lavender flowers, zest of the lemons and stir well.
- Sieve in the flour and mix by hand until everything is combined. I start by mashing in the flour with a fork then stir together with a spoon at the end a bit. Do not over mix or use electric beaters here.Too much mixing will affect the texture of the finished shortbread.
- Add the milk only if you need to to bring the dough together. It should be slightly crumbly but hold together if you squeeze it together in your hand. The drier you can get away with keeping the dough, the better the texture of your shortbread, I did not need to use any milk at all but if you do, add it very, very gradually.
- Lightly dust a surface with flour and shape your dough into a ball. Roll out to about 3 - 4 mm thick then use a cookie cutter or mason jar lid to cut into shapes.
- Place gently on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar and press into the tops of the cookies very gently with your fingers. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until firm.
- Remove from the fridge and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.They will start turning a little golden around the edges when done.
- Keep an eye on them in the last few minutes as they can turn from ok to overdone very quickly. They will still feel slightly soft in the middle when done but will firm up as they cool.
- Place them on a cooling rack to cool.
- Unlike some cookies these are best eaten when completely cooled so be patient!