Spring Baking Ideas: Floral Treats / by Julie Schumacher

Spring in Chicago is something that could definitely exist only in quotes. "Spring." It can be 90 degrees one day and 50 the next. It will probably snow sometime in late March. Maybe even April. Baking seasonally can be tricky. There might be rhubarb. There might be, well, more rhubarb. This year I was motivated not by what was at the not-yet-open Farmers' Market but instead by the promise of Spring. Our salon was all about loving your now while planning your next so it seemed reasonable enough to Think Spring even if I was wearing a puffy coat at the grocery store.

Lemon Lavender Meringues

lemon lavender meringues

Thinking Spring baking wise had me thinking about how flower (no, not flour) and floral notes can make a dessert transcendent. I've baked with lavender for a salon before but have been in love with the idea of meringues as they are gluten and dairy free and perfect little nibbles. So versatile, too. Enter lemon lavender meringues from Recipe Runner. The lavender is broken up into the sugar in a food processor. And, oh, the luscious cloud of sugary-lavender dust that rises when you open the food processor is enough to make this worth baking! Despite baking forever, I'd never piped before and was really nervous. Working with room temperature egg whites, allowing the whipped whites to rest before starting piping and knowing I could redo messups was so helpful. This video from The Kitchn was my tutorial.

One of the perks of having the salon reschedule is that it gave me time to research a few things that weren't turning out the way I wanted, to add and edit and never ever tell you the recipes I totally messed up.

Instead I get to act as if it were my plan, all along, to feature two floral inspired desserts.

Rosewater Shortbread

The meringues made the list both times, truth. The rosewater shortbread was, I'll admit, a change in plans. Like lavender, I've baked with rosewater before, too, to heavenly results.

I stumbled upon rosewater shortbread because the gluten free and dairy free cookies I had planned just weren't up to snuff. In doing more research I read a post for GF/DF shortbread slabs from Silvana's Kitchen. Shortbread is like scones, it's a hardier pastry so adapting and substituting seems to go ok-ish. I figured I could splash in some rosewater if I could remove all that dairy and gluten!

Et, voila! The taste was airy and had a rice cracker crunch. Not as dense as a standard shortbread but certainly a base recipe I'll be working with again in the future. To help guests eat what made their tummies happy, I made the GF/DF with a straight cookie cutter (without) so the rippled dairy/gluten full cookies had ridges (with).

This recipe called for an egg white wash on top with some sanding sugar...in my efforts to make pink sanding sugar I put decorating sugar in the immersion blender. It came out a bit more like pink cocaine than sanding sugar. But when swirled with the egg wash it made this great glaze that gave them all a rosy pink hue. I liked it so much I did it to the standard cookies too!

In our next share from Spring Salon sweets we'll have two ways to ombre chocolate. So pretty. So yummy.