Throughout my travels, I've had the opportunity to try many new foods and unique flavour combinations. One country in particular has really opened my eyes and palette to a new world of culinary possibilities: birthplace of Le Cordon Bleu, France.
France has not only mastered taste, but also visual presentation. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue. A plated dinner is a work of art that elicits a gasp; walking into a French bakery is sensory overload with beautiful, unexpected bursts of colour hinting at the explosion of flavour to follow. Now that I'm learning to cook and bake, I want to bring this experience to my own kitchen.
I recently put this into practice by baking dark chocolate lavender cookies. France incorporates a number of floral notes into its cuisine and while some are an acquired taste – I've had a rose spread from Versailles that has lingered, for the most part unused, in my cupboard since forever – lavender paired with rich dark chocolate makes for a heavenly, decadent dessert. Primarily cultivated in the Provence region of the country, the herb is a member of the mint family and adds a sweet, citrusy note to cooking.
I scoured the internet for a recipe to use as a base and then modified according to my own preferences (bit more chocolate and of a richer variety; slightly less lavender as I didn't want it to overpower). One bite of the finished product and I was transported right back to the banks of the River Seine. Enjoy!
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 6 tbsp red dutch process cocoa powder
• 4 tbsp lavender buds
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
• 1 1/4 brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 large omega-3 eggs
• 2 1/2 tsp organic Madagascan vanilla extract
• 1 3/4 cups 70% dark chocolate chips
• powdered sugar for presentation
1. Lightly crush lavender buds.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and lavender. Stir until mixed well.
3. In a large-sized bowl, whisk softened butter with brown and granulated sugars. Add eggs and vanilla extract and then whisk more until it develops a creamy texture.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Add dark chocolate and mix until blended.
5. Let stand in refrigerator for 24 hours for flavours to settle.
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with tinfoil and then scoop approximately 12 balls on top. Bake for 12 minutes. Repeat until all dough is used (should make approximately two dozen cookies). Sprinkle with powdered sugar for presentation.