I was preparing to throw a pre-spring party several weeks ago when a sad truth sank in. I lived across the country from some of my closest family and friends. My mental list of who I’d love to see in my living room, laughing on my couch and sipping rose lemonade contained friends (and my sisters) that don’t live in my time zone. It was at this moment that I sent happy thoughts their way and felt gratitude for the opportunity for new budding friendships to grow.
Friends are to be made all around and one of the easiest ways is with food. In planning for this soiree, I remembered my good friend Susan who lives only a few hours north in New York. She happens to love great food as much as I do so I quickly called her for reinforcement. We began planning a floral-themed dessert party here in DC highlighting fresh blooms and lots of sweets. In the midst of our planning and decorating, I knew I wanted a naturally sweetened dessert to enhance the theme.
Admittedly, we made some traditional sugar-sweet dishes for this event and naturally sweet was definitely not the focus. But, I could redeem the party with a few all natural desserts, like Honey Lavender Shortbread Bars and Apple Rosettes. What an appearance they made! Honey-sweetened shortbread bars taste as delicate as they appear. Their melt-in-your-mouth texture is divine while the lavender flavor pops just so. The wonderful honey flavor isn’t overpowering and enhances the lavender notes perfectly. Xylitol and white chocolate accentuate traditional sweetness, creating an extra dreamy flavor that’s sure to win friends from all directions.
White Chocolate Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Raw Honey
1/4 cup Granulated Sweetener like Maple Sugar, Xylitol or Erythritol
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Lavender
2 cups White Flour, White Spelt Flour or Oat Flour
1 cup White Chocolate Chips or Chunks, melted (optional)
1 Tablespoon Xylitol, for sprinkling (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×9 or 7×11 baking dish with parchment paper large enough for lifting finished bars from dish.
Fit an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl, add soft butter and mix until fluffy and pale in color. Add the sweeteners and continue beating on high for about 5 minutes, until sweeteners are dissolved and the batter is smooth and creamy. Add the salt, lavender and flour. Mix together. The dough will be slightly sticky but not unmanageable. Add an extra tablespoon of flour if needed.
Scoop dough onto the prepared baking dish. With damp hands, press and even out the batter in the pan. Smooth out bars evenly with a spatula if needed. Score the bars with a sharp paring knife.
Bake cookies for 35-40 minutes, until golden. Please note that honey bakes faster and browns quicker than normal sugar so please watch at 35 minutes to avoid over baking. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and place in the freezer to chill for 10-20 minutes. Melt chocolate while the bars are chilling. Dip cold cookies in the chocolate and lay on a parchment or wax paper dish to set. Sprinkle with more xylitol and allow to set. Store leftovers in an airtight container. Cookies will last at room temperature for 3 days or in the freezer for 4 weeks.