Students at Peabody Charter School pick herbs and make their own cookies.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

When the lavender blooms at Peabody Charter School, it’s time to make lavender shortbread cookies. First the kids identify the lavender in our garden by its fragrance, and then they pick stalks to bring into the kitchen. Together we carefully handpick the little purple flowers from each stalk. We also grate a little fresh lemon or orange rind to add to our dry ingredients.

Then the fun begins. We pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture feels like cornmeal. Then we stir in a little vanilla, gather the dough together and divide it into eight balls.

There are lots of ways to press the shortbread cookies. In this after-school cooking class, we pressed the dough into Asian cookie molds then tapped them out onto our parchment paper–lined trays. But you can also press them with a fork, ceramic cookie stamp, or the decorative bottom of a fancy drinking glass. Use a little sugar on your pressing tool to keep the dough from sticking.

We used salted butter but you can use unsalted if you prefer—just increase the salt a little. It’s fun to experiment with different edible flowers such as nasturtiums or orange blossoms and add spices like cinnamon or ginger.

Of course, tasting the freshly baked cookies is the best part. Smiles light up the faces of our successful young bakers as they taste their own cookies and pack up a few to take home to their families and friends.

Makes 8 cookies

12 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon lavender flowers

Pinch of grated orange or lemon rind

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces

14 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour, sugar, lavender flowers, orange or lemon rind and salt.

Put your butter pieces into the flour mixture, coating them with flour. Pinch the butter between your thumb and first and second fingers to break the butter into smaller pieces. Keep flouring and pinching until the mixture feels like cornmeal.

Stir in the vanilla and gather the dough into a ball. Divide into eight smaller balls.

Put onto a parchment lined baking sheet and press each ball with a fork or a fancy bottomed drinking glass dipped in sugar. Each shortbread cookie should be a little less than 12 inch thick.

Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to show a little color. Let the cookies cool briefly on the pan to firm up before you remove them from the pan.


Nancy Oster assists in afterschool cooking classes at Peabody Charter School with Executive Chef Laurel Lyle. Cooking with kids reminds her that preparing food is fun and eating together is joyful.

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Categories Desserts Recipes
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Summer 2018

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