Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heavenly Pairings: Honey and Lavender

Like most chefs, I sporadically become obsessed with certain ingredients and spend hours searching for recipes that call for them in the hope that I can spend lots of time building a mini-repertoire of baked goods that will fall under a single category. At the moment, I am in love with honey, thanks to my initiation into beekeeping, and lavender, thanks to its glorious fragrance. Actually, I am in love with these two edibles completely independent of one another, as each is capable of sitting as the foundation of entire cookbooks. And I have found a handful of honey cookbooks as well as a sampling of lavender cookbooks. But put together, honey and lavender combine into a perfect fusion of wholesome, flavorful, aromatic taste that make any bread, any cookie, any breakfast dish completely heavenly.

Now, honey as a food item is a given, but lavender? For a long time, I had been accustomed to the lavender scent in my candles and my body lotion, and it does have an inspired place in home and personal goods. But the first time that you open the oven door, and the same lavender aroma wafts out, you will realize – as I did – that lavender has just a valid place in the mixing bowl as it does in the aromatherapy lamp. I personally used culinary lavender from Purple Haze Lavender Farm here in Washington state.

And onto these lavender honey bunches: the oats are the third secret to the homey and slightly rustic feel of these cookies (I call them cookies even though they are baked in a muffin pan). All of the ingredients mesh together quite well, and the final treat is hearty and weighty, but without being overly heavy with the weight of butter or cream. If I lived in a farm house (on my ideal farm, complete with bees for honey, chickens for eggs, goats for cheese, cows for milk, and vegetables for my occasional foray into healthy eating), I could see myself standing in my kitchen overwhelmed with the floral scent of lavender and savoring every bite of these bunches.

Lavender Honey Bunches
3 cups quick oats
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon dried lavender
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, coconut, and flour in a large mixing bowl. In a heavy sauce pan bring applesauce, honey, sugar and lavender to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Drop dough by the spoonful into muffin tins, making each one about 1-2 inches high. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden, being careful not to overbake. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes before removing.


Colin Megill said...

My ideal farm has one more category: eager but unemployed recent college graduates to live in my backyard and do all the work for me.

Cpolchowski said...

That sounds like a farm I know.

My picture of an ideal farm is much more ornate than just that...I also would need several barn cats to provide adorableness.