I’ve long thought cooking with flowers was a little too precious for my style. It seemed so Martha-like and made me conjure up images of a mesclun salad sprinkled with pansy petals– the kind that would be served at a baby shower luncheon in the Hamptons.
But recently, I reviewed a book called The Scented Kitchen that may have changed my mind. Because it’s winter in Australia, about the only flowers available right now were lavender so I tested the author’s recipe for lavender smoked salmon (it’s a keeper) and then made lavender brownies for dessert.
The recipe for lavender brownies wasn’t in the book, but I took the author’s advice to do my own floral experimentation. So I used an Alice Medrich brownie recipe and for the regular sugar I substituted lavender sugar, which I made by pulsing lavender flowers and sugar in the food processor.
Granted, the basic brownie recipe is a terrific one, but adding lavender takes them to a new level. There’s a whiff of lavender as you bite into the brownie, but unless you know it’s in there, it’s one of those aromas that you can’t quite put your finger on. The lavender even seemed to add a spicy note to the brownies which developed their intensity and richness.
And even though I did feel like I was channeling Martha maybe just a little while I was making these, there’s nothing precious about them. They’re dark, mysterious and darned near perfect.