Fresh & Floral: My Favourite Afternoon Tea Offering

    Since the 1840’s, afternoon tea has been a time set aside to connect with friends and family while enjoying a cup of brew and a few delectable treats to get you through the midday slump.  More recently, though, the theme of afternoon, or English, tea has become an elegant party trend, ideal for baby and bridal showers alike.  When hosting an Afternoon Tea party, a warm, nostalgic atmosphere can be created for your guests by serving a well blended tea in miss matched cups and saucers, decorating with collected doilies or vintage table linens, and fresh flowers dotted around the room. 
    The ambiance of this revived tradition, both folksy and refined, always transports me back to my great-grandmothers’  dining room, sipping sugary Red Rose tea from a dainty little cup; sneaking cookies into my pockets for the ride home.  
    I’ve put my own spin on the delicious butter cookies that were a staple at my gran’s afternoon tea, making it my fresh and floral, go-to baked good for celebrations with my friends!  My butter cookies are brightened up with the zest and juice of a lemon, but the star ingredient is really the summery lavender flowers!   So delicate in flavour and appearance, these easy-to-make confections are the perfect accompaniment for a cup of hot tea. I guarantee that your guests will want extras to snack on during their trip home.

Lavender & Lemon Butter Cookies

1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus a little extra for dusting over the top
5 tbsp confectioners sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
Finely chopped lavender flowers; if fresh from your garden use 2 tbsp, dried culinary grade use 2 tsp, crushed in a mortar and pestle 
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) salt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

    Using an electric mixer on medium setting, cream butter until fluffy and light. Gradually beat in granulated sugar and vanilla followed by the confectioners sugar . Lower the speed of the mixer to low to mix in the flour, lavender, lemon zest and salt until just incorporated. If the mixture still seems dry add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tbsp at at time, until everything comes together.  As well as moisture, this adds an extra lemony zing! 
    Once the dough is ready, form into a flat round, wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. Line the bottom of cookie sheet with with parchment paper which is cut to fit.
    Preheat oven to 350°F.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. I like to roll my dough out on a lightly floured tea towel; this allows for an extremely easy clean up. Cut the cookies out with a 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1-inch apart. Dot cookies with a fork and dust lightly with granulated sugar. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly coloured around the edges. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, slide the parchment paper with the cookies still on it to a cooling rack.

Makes 24 irresistible cookies

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