Servings: 2 dozen
1 tablespoon fresh or dried lavender flowers*
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar (natural, white or colored) for decorating
In a small food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), grind lavender flowers with the granulated sugar.
Combine the butter and lavender-sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add flour and salt and blend until combined taking care not to over mix (dough should be soft but not sticky). Separate dough into two balls and wrap in plastic, flattening each into a flat disc and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. (The dough can also be frozen for months and baked in batches by bringing it to temperature in the refrigerator overnight.)
Preheat oven to 325°F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper or leave them ungreased.
Remove only once disc at a time from the refrigerator, and roll dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Decorate with sanding sugar and/or lightly press a lavender sprig or leaf into the cookie and top. (To keep intricate shapes intact, refrigerate baking sheet with shaped cookies for 10 minutes before baking).
*Fresh or dried lavender flowers can be found in health food stores, herb and spice markets, or through on-line baking supply retailers.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to lightly brown around the edges. Carefully remove and cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.