We all know the common problem with lavender-flavored sweets: they taste like dish soap, dryer sheets, or an unfortunate perfume. Yet I'm sure you've eaten lavender and enjoyed it—it's one of the key ingredients in the mild, savory blend known as herbs de Provence. On its own, lavender has a distinctive taste that's floral with hints of mint and rosemary (two plants to which it's related) and, used correctly, it makes the perfect flavoring for spring.
Here's what to keep in mind when using lavender:
Dried lavender is just that: the edible flowers of the lavender plant. Because it's not cut with another herb (as it is in herbs de provence) it's potent, so start with a pinch and work up from there.
Lavender has a particular affinity for dairy, which means that adding it to ice cream, custards, hot chocolate, shortbread cookies, or butter-rich frostings is always a good idea.
If you're steeping your lavender, follow the advice of our ice cream maven Max: "While a bunch of mint leaves is best steeped for up to two hours, [lavender reaches its] optimum flavor after half an hour to forty five minutes.
Make lavender lemonade or lavender ice tea by starting with a lavender simple syrup. Follow our recipe for simple syrup, adding about 1 tablespoon of lavender per cup of water.
If you're still unsure about going full flower, then test the waters with the more mild flavor of lavender honey, as in this Italian Lavender Honey Spice Cake
Dried lavender flowers can be purchased at gourmet stores, spice shops, or online.
Want a foolproof recipe to try? Click through the slideshow above or go straight below to see 8 that will have you imagining the purple fields of Provence, not soap, in no time.
Go Straight To The Recipes
Lavender-Earl Grey Flourless Chocolate Cake
Honey Lavender Mille Crêpes Cake
Crème Fraîche Cupcakes with Provence Lavender Icing
Lemongrass-Lavender White Hot Chocolate
Lavender-Hyssop Ice Cream
Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Blueberry Lavender Jam
Sour Cherry and Lavender Sorbet