I am known among family and friends for my Almond Shortbread Cookies around Christmas time. There's not been a year skipped since my girls were young, and I don't intend to stop either!
And now, the beauty of spring and violets are here, and for several years I've been wanting to try my hand at cooking with the essence and flavoring of violets. I have quite a few violets in the garden every winter, so I am happy to have finally tweaked my shortbread cookie recipe to accommodate the complex and slightly confusing flavor and essence of the violet as consumption. I mean, I love the fragrance of a violet in a perfume or body lotion--who doesn't? It's timeless, literally. Think Napolean and Josephine. But, it takes on a difference perspective when you're consuming it! The end result of these cookies are delightful in flavor, with a butter crisp shortbread on the outside, and a moist tasty center.
When I took these cookies out of the oven and tasted them without the lemon glaze, they were just ok. Not great, but not bad. I could definitely taste the violet, but it also confused my senses because I'm so used to the fragrance. It seemed a bit 'off' to be eating this fragrance. So, I determined that I needed complement to the violet cookie with a flavored glazed topping, and I thought immediately of the lemon. And yes, the lemon glaze did the trick. It cut through the somewhat heavy and somewhat earthy flavor of the violet, and lightened it up..enhanced it and made it fresh. I adore this combination of violets and lemon! The key to the cookie though, is the violet flavoring. I researched and searched and decided to try the violet flavoring from Bickford Flavors. I am impressed with this flavoring. It's not only delightful, but also the strength is high without a heavy alcohol aftertaste. You'll only need 1 oz. for the recipe, which is only $4.39 on their site.
Now, before I share the recipe, you know we have to talk botany. So, here goes--the violets I used for sugaring and decoration on top of the cookies are the Viola Odora, also known as Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, or Garden Violet. These are usually prolific in my garden from mid-March through late spring, where they will stop blooming but retain their green leaves year-round for the most part. And in the language of flowers, the violet represents faithfulness, sweet beauty, I return your love, modesty, simplicity.
What amazing sentiments, right? Now...just wait until you taste these cookies!
Violet Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze
(step one; day prior--sugar your violets, see below for instructions)
1 c. white sugar
2 c. unsalted butter
1 oz bottle of violet flavoring
1/3 c. carrier oil for flavoring (I used Avocado Oil)
4 c. flour
In stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and cream until smooth. Add eggs, flavoring and oil. Mix until combined well. Begin adding flour mixing between 1 cup additions. Turn this mixture out and chill for 1 hour in fridge.
Turn chilled dough onto floured surface for rolling. Divide dough into fourths, and add enough flour to make it non-sticky. Roll out to approximately 3/8". Cut into your preferred shapes and bake in 350 degree oven for about 5 or 6 minutes--just until edges begin to show color. Don't over bake! These cookies are meant to have a moist center.
Juice of 1 lemon, combined with 1 cup of powdered sugar. That's it!
Now, prior to making your cookies--in fact, about a day in advance, make your sugared violets.
Cut your violets from the garden after you've prepared the materials and ingredients;
1 egg white beat until frothy
1/4 c. super fine sugar. I used my vitamix to make regular sugar fine, but don't overdo it, otherwise you'll have powdered sugar.
Lay your violets on parchment paper. Using a small paintbrush, coat each bloom front and back with egg whites in a thin layer. Hold the coated over your sugar and with a smalls spoon, sprinkle lightly until generously coated.
Lay your violets out on clean parchment and let them dry for at least 12 hours.
Once you've made the cookies and glazed, place on top while glaze is wet.
Enjoy! And just think of all those sweet sentiments you're eating when you enjoy these with a nice hot cup of tea!