Have you ever baked using flowers or floral extracts? I never had until I took a cooking class at Sur la Table last summer. In that class we made profiteroles and filled them with lavender whipped cream. They were divine! I was skeptical at first because I had recently had some macarons that were rose flavored and I was not a fan. The flavor of the rose was too strong and I felt like that was all I could taste. The lavender whipped cream however was subtle, and it was more of an after taste that left you wondering what that lovely slightly floral flavor was. That is exactly the effect the lavender has in these Lemon and Lavender Meringue Cookies.
Meringue cookies are such a fun, light, and airy cookie! As far as cookies are concerned I put them on the healthy side of the spectrum. The basic meringue is simply egg whites, sugar, and some vanilla, it doesn’t get more simple than that. The technique for making meringues however is a little more fussy than a regular cookie.
First you have to start with a mixing bowl that is completely dry. Next add the egg whites, and make sure it is ONLY the egg whites. If there is any yolk in them, and I mean any, the whites won’t whip up the way they are supposed to. Some people add a pinch of cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites so that they hold the stiff peaks that you are looking for in the end. The other important step when making meringues is to add your sugar slowly. If you pour it all in at once you will deflate the egg whites and they will never get their volume back.
For these Lemon and Lavender Meringue Cookies I actually added in the dried lavender flowers to the sugar and pulsed it in the food processor several times until they were broken up and the sugar was fragrant. Once the egg whites hold stiff peaks you can fold in any extracts, or zest you may want in them. In the case of these meringues this was when I added in the lemon zest. I very gently folded it in so that I wouldn’t deflate the egg whites. Most meringues call for vanilla extract but I decided that between the lemon zest and lavender they would have plenty of flavor. Boy of boy did they!
The first flavor that hits you is the fresh lemon and then towards the end you get a subtle floral and lemony lavender taste. It was delicious! I love the way the meringues have an initial crisp crunchy bite, but then once they hit your tongue they melt and dissolve into the perfect sweet bite. If you’ve never tried baking with flowers, I highly recommend starting with these Lemon and Lavender Meringue Cookies. They are perfect for spring and would be lovely set out for guests to snack on at Easter time!