I really do enjoy the occasional cooking competition show, such as Iron Chef or Next Food Network Star. Often in these shows the contestants are given an ingredient and asked to make something new out of it. So when my friend Lindsey told me about this Girl Scout Cookie contest, I thought it would be fun to be challenged in this way and immediately signed up.
For this recipe I decided to use Savannah Smiles. These cookies are lemon flavored and crispy.
I am a huge fan of lavender. For baking, I buy dried lavender buds from Whole Foods, and chop them up.
For these cookies, I took the dried buds and stirred them in with the crust, which also contained crumbs from the Savannah Smiles.
For the filling, I cooked up Alton Brown’s lemon curd. Sugar, egg yolks, butter, lemon….you cannot go wrong with those elements.
I wasn’t sure how or whether the lemon curd would bake, but it totally worked! After removing the bars from the oven, I sprinkled some more crushed Savannah Smiles on top. The crunch from the topping really balances out the rich smoothness from the lemon curd.
After this came the wild card element: lavender whipped cream.
To make the whipped cream, I steeped some more lavender buds in the cream, then chilled it. Make sure your cream is thoroughly chilled before whipping it, or it won’t whip properly.
I also added a few drops of food color to accentuate the lavender theme, but you could skip this if you prefer. I was so excited when the whipped cream worked! It really tied the whole dessert together. (Note: the cream needs to steep for one hour and chill for at least two, so just remember to plan ahead!)
I was so happy with how this recipe turned out, and had a lot of fun making it! Thanks to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington for putting on the contest. Girl Scout cookies are sold from March 1-17. If you’re wondering where you can buy cookies in your area, there is a cookie locator and an app available to help you out. If you try this recipe, please let me know! Good luck!
Lavender Lemon Gooey Bars
Makes about 12 bars
For the crust:
1 1/2 boxes Savannah Smiles (the full box of cookies should be crushed finely, the 1/2 box crushed into larger crumbs)
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
For the lemon curd:
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
For the whipped cream:
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red and blue food coloring, if desired
Heat the heavy cream and lavender buds in a small saucepan over low heat, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and cover. Let cream steep for one hour. Strain cream, and chill for at least 2 hours, or until completely cold.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Chop the dried lavender buds into fine, small pieces.
Mix together the fine cookie crumbs (reserving the remaining 1/2 box for later), flour, melted butter, and lavender. Press into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
While crust is baking, fill a medium saucepan with one inch of water. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
While water is heating, whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl (choose one large enough to fit over the saucepan, without touching the water). Whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the lemon zest and juice. (Lemon juice should equal about 1/3 cup – if you don’t have enough just add cold water.) Whisk until smooth.
Once the water has begun to simmer, reduce heat to low. Place bowl on top of saucepan, and whisk mixture until it’s thickened, light yellow in color and could coat the back of a spoon. This should take about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add the butter piece by piece, whisking each pat in so that it’s melted before adding the next one.
Pour curd onto crust and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until curd is set and turning golden brown on the edges.
Remove bars from oven and immediately sprinkle remaining cookie crumbs on top (these should be chopped a little rougher than the first). Press crumbs down slightly if needed. Let bars cool and set.
While bars are cooling, add vanilla and a few drops of food coloring (if desired) to heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Add sugar and whip until peaks are stiff. (Note: Make sure cream is thoroughly chilled, or it won’t whip correctly.)
Serve the lavender whipped cream with bars, and enjoy!