2.18.2010

Sweet Lavender

Did you know lavender is an herb? I thought it was a flower.  Well, it has a flower. The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water....the name "lavender" is Latin from the word "lavare", and means to wash. They also used the dried flowers to scent and flavor jellies as well as other sweets. Queen Elizabeth I of England valued lavender as a conserve and a perfume. To this day, the French continue to send baby lambs to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be tender and fragrant.

This herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Which is probably why lavender is such a popular fragrance in soaps, perfumes and potpourri mixtures.

Lately I've noticed more and more recipes are using lavender as an ingredient. I was also surprised to find it listed as an ingredient in Herbes de Provence. Everyone seems to have a different idea about lavender's flavor. It has been variously described as sweet, floral or lemony. I personally found it to be slightly floral and kind of woodsy. If you're going to give lavender a try in the kitchen, be sure (Unless you're fortunate enough to have it growing in your garden!) to buy culinary lavender.



And how would you use it, you ask? Here are some ideas:


  • Use lavender as a substitute for thyme or marjoram.
  • Lavender can also be substituted for rosemary in many bread recipes.
  • The flowers can be put in sugar and sealed tightly for a couple of weeks then the sugar can be substituted for ordinary sugar for a cake, buns or custards.
A word of caution for first time users: Lavender is strong and can "overdose" a recipe unless used sparingly. Begin to experiment with lavender as a background flavor...like vanilla. You know it's there, but it's not the main player. You can use lavender flowers, buds, and leaves, sprigs, either fresh, dried or ground.

Did I forget to mention using lavender in drinks?


How about lavender lemonade?
Or place sprigs of lavender into a gin bottle and put the bottle in the freezer for summer drinks. The combination of gin and lavender make an absolutely fabulous gin and tonic!
Or try a sprig of lavender in a martini with a twist of lemon.

Recently Susan of
Savoring Time in the Kitchen posted a recipe for Lavender-Lemon Pound Cake. Sounds delicious. I haven't made it yet, but I'm going to.

I've never experimented with lavender so I thought I'd begin with this caramel sauce. I adore anything caramel and the best caramels I have ever eaten had fleur de sel sprinkled on top. Sounded like a great way for me to start; besides, how could this sauce be anything other than fabulous?
And it is. Fabulous. Rich, delightful and I can think of lots of things to pour it over, but vanilla ice cream is my favorite. It makes a super hostess gift or keep it in your fridge, reheat and use when you need that perfect finishing touch to your dessert. Like over a piece of angel food cake or even bread pudding.....drool.

Do you have any recipes using lavender as an ingredient?


Lavender Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce

Martha Stewart Living Magazine, February 2010




Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

Method:

Heat the sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook, washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming, until it is mediuim amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the heavy cream. Return to heat and cook, stirring until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lavender and salt. Stir until combined and set aside for 15 minutes. Strain. Makes about 1-1/4 cups. Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.




Here are some good links on cooking with lavender:


http://www.happyvalleylavender.com/lavender_recipes.html
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Lavender.htm
http://www.lavenderlovers.com/recipes/recipes.html
http://www.joys-of-lavender.com/lavender-recipes.html
http://lavenderfarms.net/hoodriverlavender/HoodRiverLavenderRecipes.htm

78 comments:

  1. I actually have a lavender plant and almost never use it! I have recipes for pound cakes and shortbread cookies with lavender, and I really should be trying them. Your caramel looks delicious! And, I love the idea of a lavender lemonade.

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  2. That sauce looks incredible. I don't recall a recipe with lavender, but I surely could have overlooked it... Since I'm not huge on rosemary, I'm wondering if I will care for lavender?

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  3. Looks good! I've had lavender crème brulée before and it was quite tasty. However I find that it can easily become pretty overpowering so I don't use it much!

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  4. What a wonderful and informative post, m'dear! I love lavender and blueberries but also put it in provencal meatballs!!! NOw this new recipe... for great salt and lavender in one sauce... heaven!

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  5. Barbara, I love this post. Thanks for all of the info! I like lavender, though have never really cooked with it. I love the idea of the caramel sauce...and anytime I see a picture of ice cream, I want it.

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  6. It's me again. I just noticed that Paul Auster's Invisible is on your recommended book list. I just read that recently and found it so interesting! Hadn't read anything by him in a long time.

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  7. I have grown french lavender in my garden ever since my first visit to Monet's garden at Giverny 13 years ago. Not sure if I could use it in cooking though, I'll have to google it!
    This sauce sound yummy, thanks for the recipe and for stopping by in Normandy.

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  8. that is one gorgeous little goodie there! i love lavender and grow loads of it in all shapes, colors and sizes, i have made so many fantastic things from it, but your sauce is really calling me!

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  9. I'm always afraid to try lavender-flavored things because I have this fear that they will taste the way that perfume smells...this looks way too heavenly to pass up though! I will definitely be trying it.

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  10. I remember the days when I had a garden lined with lavender bushes. I will have to try this lavender caramel sauce, it looks divine!

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  11. I adore dishes with lavender especially desserts! The drizzle of this lavender caramel sauce on ice cream or cake anything else sounds just fabulous!

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  12. wait, you mean to tell me that not everyone bathes in lavender-scented water? :)
    that lemonade idea is awesome, as is the sauce you've featured. i imagine it's just completely complex and luscious. great post, barbara!

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  13. Douche? Only kidding..again! :)

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  14. I love lavender and use Herbes de Provence all the time - delicious sprinkled on a roast chicken, fish or even popcorn! That Lavender Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce looks outrageously good - I MUST try it in the very near future. Thanks so much for the recipe.

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  15. Thanks for the Lavender ideas. I bought some Lavender to mix my own Herbes de Provence. My daughter loves it and uses it in everything from eggs, veggies to mashed potatoes. I am going to try in in a drink!

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  16. I did NOT know lavender was an herb! I thought it was a flower too...albeit an edible one, as I have seen lavender used in several recipes, primarily in drinks.

    Great suggestions! I want to use it in a lemonade now :)

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  17. Wonderful! I love lavender, I grow it in my front garden. I use it in herbes de provence and flavoured sugar but your sauce is spectacular! I would love some on a good vanilla bean ice cream.

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  18. Lisa: Agreed. Lavender lemonade sounds wonderful!

    Chan: It's barely noticeable in this sauce. Very mild.

    Lucie: You have to be careful not to use too much or it gets too perfumey.

    Deana: Never would have thought of using it in meatballs!

    Hungry Dog: Ice cream is my downfall!

    Maggie: I adored Monet's garden. I wanted to walk and walk and stay forever!

    Jain: It's not very strong in the sauce; I thought it was just right.

    Joanne: Just don't use too much; this recipe was perfect.

    Fresh: I bet that fragrance was divine!

    Natasha: Heavenly Housewife has a post today with a photo of a lavender cheesecake. Looked and sounded good.

    Grace: You can have the lemonade, I have a sprig in a bottle of gin in the freezer right now. G & T's are my favorite drinnk!

    BD: Actually, that's probably an excellent idea!

    Stephanie: I had to give away that jar because I would have eaten all of it!

    Lyndsey: I think the sugar idea was a good one too. That way when you mixed your drinks, the flavor would already be there.

    Phoenix: Wish I had a sprig to put in the raffia around the jar. Would have been pretty for a gift.

    Natashya: Vanilla bean ice cream would be a perfect pairing!

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  19. A very well respected Restaurant and Chef, Kevin Taylor, served up a Lavendar salad dressing. I came home and did a pretty good job of recreating it. Then one day I dedided to make Lavendar ice cream. It was pretty good, but overwhelming in Lavendar flavor. I've decided I need a few structured recipes before understanding how to use it. Great post.

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  20. I love lavender for cooking. This sauce sounds incredible. On my blog, I have a recipe for a lavender sorbet that is soooo good.

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  21. Oh I love that caramel. very flavorful!

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  22. Oh how I love my lavender that grows outside my front door. One, because it smells so wonderful, and, two, because it comes back every year, despite my brown thumb.

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  23. Sweetness, you had me at: did you know that you can use lavender in drinks?

    Score!!

    Your sauce looks lovely. Looks like we both were riding the caramel train this week!

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  24. I have been seeing lavender used in many recipes lately as well. The caramel sauce looks like a delicious idea. The pound cake sounds good too.

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  25. Barbara you are so good at teaching all us novices & a like. I am glad to know that one needs to be light with the Lavender. I love it so that I likely would of over done it straight away. Tonight I'm craving the caramel sauce over bread pudding. I have heard of the Lavender Farms @ Hood River, OR but have never gotten the chance to visit. I think it's a must do once of these times. Happy weekend to you in hopefully sunny Florida x

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  26. I haven't tried lavender yet. Your sauce looks like a fabulous way to try it!

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  27. Barbara, I love lavender and you are so right, a little sure does go a long way. It grows beautifully in my garden, I should try and dry it this summer! I just went to an herb farm near my home with my mom and we bought lavender to make that caramel sauce. Now that I see it in your post I'm definitely making this over the weekend.
    xoxo

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  28. That sounds absoilutely DIVINE!!! I've been dreaming of chocolat chaud with a pinch of lavender! Or lavender scones. I had those once and totally broke my GF diet for them. they are THAT AMAZING. Think they'd be so great with your caramel

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  29. Barbara, thanks for these links. We have lots of things here made with lavender. Mostly things made with mild or cream infused with it. But we can also get honey made from the lavender flowers--a lovely taste.

    I'm intrigued by the caramel sauce with lavender. I've bookmarked this one! Thanks!

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  30. Lea Ann: Several cookbooks warned about using too much. It's tempting, but a little goes a long way.

    Pam: I'll check the sorbet recipe out. Would be lovely in the summer.

    Elra: Caramel is a favorite with me.

    Lynn: Something else I learned: lavender has long been a favorite flower and color of genteel ladies. This shade of purple suggests refinement along with grace, elegance, and something special.

    TKW: Yeah, but yours has scotch IN it! Yummee.

    msmeanie: The photo in the magazine showed it over bread pudding. But I thought that was adding insult to injury!

    Deb: Those fields of lavender are beautiful, aren't they?

    Barbara: I've been surprised at the commnents...lots of cooks have used lavender.

    Bunny: It was delicious..very mild lavender taste.

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  31. Mmmm..I love the smell of lavender, and I try to grow lavender, but to be honest,still undecided about lavender flavoured dishes (bad experience with a lavender chocolate). Funny thing is, I love rosewater and orange blossom water, so it's not the floral part that gets me...

    Pairing it with caramel sounds like a great way to try in it a small dose though, love the cute jar :)

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  32. I love flavoring my meat and baked goods with lavender... Your caramel looks irresistible!

    Lavender fields are so beautiful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  33. thanks so much for coming over to my blog - via deb.

    the baby french lambs grazing in the lavender is so interesting.

    i am sending my mom over 'tout de suite!'
    she will love your blog.
    xx thank you again for the sweet comments and wishes

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  34. Lavender is such a tremendous herb with such a wonderful fragrant. I'm sure the lavender caramel sauce taste absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe.

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  35. That is very interesting! I love the smell of lavender, but I did not know you could cook with it. That looks delicious!

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  36. Kate: I've had lavender honey and I love it!

    Shaz: It's really only infused for a short time so it's not too strong.

    Rosa: I agree, lavender fields take my breath away.

    Renee: So pleased Deb introduced me to your blog...after all, we live in the same town! Gus Martinez from Tulane Kidd just redid my home.

    Kristy: It's delicious.

    Erica: I was surprised at how many savory dishes it's used in.

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  37. i've never cooked with lavendar, but this was was a beautiful post that described it so well, i really want to now! mmmmm

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  38. The sauce looks luscious! I have seen several recipes lately using lavender!! One that looked so nice was chocolate truffles! Thanks for the interesting information. You always add the extra to your posts.

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  39. Such a great informative post..I have some lavender floral syrup I've been wanting to use..you've given me some great ideas and links!

    The caramel sauce is calling my name!!!

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  40. This spring/summer....lavender will not pass me by. I have some serious recipes to make..............No chance of ever getting started on that diet! Thanks....

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  41. Barbara -- i can do lavender water, but this? no way, Babs! you kill me with these unceasing recipes and your amazing blog! btw, a movie that i'm sure you'd love is "a good year," and in it, the housekeeper uses lavender to keep out the local Provence scorpions. there are several very funny scenes using "lavender" (you have to say that in a french accent!) -- Jg.

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  42. I've been obsessed with baking with lavendar ever since I saw this recipe for Lavendar Tea bread...but I just can't find any fresh lavendar to bake with!

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  43. Teresa: Hated telling you your chocolate dessert would never make on my "must eat" list! (And, naughty me, I didn't even give it a try!)

    Teacher: The chocolate truffles would be excellent with a little lavender!

    Foley: Thanks! I always like to hear I've given someone an idea!

    Ozoz: I'm trying to diet right now! It's tough when there are so many things to taste test!

    JG: Try a sprig (if you ever get your hands on some) in your gin bottle in the freezer. It's perfect. (Putting A Good Year on my Netflix list ASAP)

    Sophia: Do you have to use fresh? Not dried? I think you can substitute dried, but check online on the amount. Using dried will make it stronger so you'll have to use less.

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  44. what a fantastic gift...your lavender caramel sauce is just divine!

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  45. I made lavender cupcakes and a lemon lavender pound cake that were so tasty. If used properly, it can add such an earthy yet floral goodness. The caramel sounds like another wonderful use for this gorgeous flower/herb.

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  46. I thought your first photo was stunning and then I moved on to your dessert photo and started drooling. Mmmmmmm!

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  47. Giao: I gave that jar away and found out later the two of them ate it all in one sitting!

    Bridgett: You're a pro with lavender! Did you check out Susan's pound cake? Just wondered if it was the same recipe.

    Jacqueline: It was really funny trying to do that photo with the camera in one hand and pouring the caramel with the other! Took me several tries!

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  48. Oh my goodness, Barbara that field of lavender looks lovely. I can "smell" them from here. My lavender isn't blooming right now, I'm kinda hoping it makes it through the winter. I have two varieties growing. Next to scented geraniums, they are my favorite floral herb. Not counting nasturtiums, carnations, and..oh I could go on and on...

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It looks heavenly!!! I'm saving this link for a future post, I hope you don't mind:)

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  49. Sounds great! I love the way aromatics can play a part in a sauce like this. The taste and smell working together makes a dish great.

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  50. That is one gorgoeus sauce and in fact, I've been longing to make my own caramel for a while. What a picture, it would make anyone weak at the knees. I've never used lavander for cooking but your post brings back memories of Christmas in Provence by the Abbey of Sénanque and the amazing colours and radiant sunshine.

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  51. wow! what a beautiful picture of all that lavendar! nice work!

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  52. Louise: Wasn't that a gorgeous field?

    Bryan: Thanks. It's the first time I've made anything with lavender, but it won't be the last.

    Vanessa: I've seen those lavender fields in Provence. Gorgeous.

    Simply Life: Thanks!

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  53. My dream in life is to have a Lavender farm....always has been always will. Sign...such loveliness over here today. xoxoxo

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  54. That picture of the lavendar field is really lovely! I love all the wonderful suggestions for using lavendar that you give, and lavendar sounds like the perfect addition to caramel sauce!

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  55. Beautiful...thanks so much for taking the time to stop by Farmhouse...your blog is so lovely...

    enjoyed the lavender post..i have a plant of lavender stiing in a basket on my farm table right now..my husband brought it to me to plant in our garden..

    looks like we have the same cookbooks....loved reading your list..i have about everyone the same...

    heading to Barnes and Noble to get that new one called "Baked". Been seeing it around blogland lately...

    me love-ee the cookbooks :-)

    i'll be back soon....

    kary
    xxx

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  56. nice. love to walk through fields of lavender or to crush some in my hand...never thought about cooking with it though...the sauce looks yummy!

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  57. Hi Barbara
    I've never cooked with lavender but seeing that photo makes me think I might just try it.
    You are very lucky to live across the street from the ocean!
    Rhondi

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  58. Koralee: It's a lovely flower, isn't it?

    Faith: I hope you get the chance to try it!

    Kary: I love them too, have two new ones and one on the way. I'll keep you posted on what's good, you keep me posted!

    Brian: I've used roses, but never lavender. There is a very mild flavor. Nothing overpowering.

    Rhondi: Unfortunately, I don't have a porch with lovely chairs overlooking it!

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  59. Hi Barbara,

    I love lavender and have a few hedges growing around the house.
    It has such a beautiful fragrance and I adore it in sachets in my underwear draw.
    I have a recipe for lavender icecream, but I have never actually tried.
    I like the thought of lavender in a Gin & tonic.

    I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  60. What a coincidence that I should come across your blog post about lavender as a culinary herb. This evening, I made a grilled stuffed grape leaves with goat cheese, rosemary and lavender....I could not locate lavender spice anywhere and had to forgo it.
    This blog post confirms that if I did not live in po dunkville, I could have purchased it for my recipe.

    Thanks for sharing this inofrmation.

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  61. Great post, very informative, thanks!
    I tried several times to grow lavender but did not succeed. One year, I brought back 2 huge bags of dried lavender from our garden in Lebanon in the mountain house and today (4 years later) the lavender still smells good and the color has not faded that much! Amazing.
    Love this sauce you created and the beautiful jar with the raffia ribbon, very bohemian-chic!

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  62. Lavender is so lovely, I like the way it sounds with lemonade and in sugar, great ideas! Your caramel sauce sounds (and looks) fabulous!

    Thanks for the links!

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  63. Carolyn: Aren't you lucky to have lavender bushes in your yard! I've already got some sprigs in my gin bottle in the freezer. Can't wait to try it.

    Velva: Hope you're going to post your stuffed grape leaf recipe. It sounds divine. (I ordered my lavender online.)

    Joumana: That is amazing. I'm surprised the scent lasted that long!

    Dishes Done: I thought the sugar idea was great.

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  64. I love lavender... although I'm not sure about it in drinks!

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  65. That looks so decadent, I have never used lavender as an ingredient but I have been thinking for a while vanilla & lavender macarons would be nice.

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  66. The sauce looks incredible.Thanks for the wonderful read on Lavender..i dint have any idea abt it.

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  67. Eternally: It's excellent if you put some in a bottle of gin. And in lemonade.

    Shannon: I hope you try the macarons with lavender and let me know how they turn out.

    Nina: The sauce is divine!

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  68. I love fleur de sel caramel, with this addition of lavender will definitely make me double love it :-)

    Great recipe and very appertizing photo!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

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  69. The first time I tasted lavender was in Paris a few years ago. It was lavender infused chocolate and it tasted wonderful. I really like the idea of lavender infused sugar.

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  70. Barbara, love lavender! I am also baking with it this week! Sauce looks to die for, will have to give it a go.
    Pam

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  71. You have just reminded me that I haven't cooked or baked with lavender in ages, Barbara - what a luscious sauce!

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  72. I was first introduced to cooking with lavender when a dear friend infused the sugar in a layer of her wedding cake with this beautiful floral herb many moons ago - this Lavender Fleur de Sel Caramel sauce looks and sounds heavenly!

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  73. I would have never thought to use lavendar in caramel sauce! It must taste wonderful. If you are ever lucky enough to find Sarah's Sea Salt Mediterranean blend, it's delicious and has lots of lavendar in it too.

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  74. I didn't see the link until you gave me the 'heads up'. Thank you, Barbara!

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  75. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    This is a great post on lavender! I am adding the caramel sauce to my list of recipes to make!

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  76. I love lavander Barbara, I have a little at home but really nice, I have in my blog and Ice Cream Lavander, if some day you want to look!! gloria

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  77. Your blog is loading fine today! I noticed lavender used in cooking just this last summer when we went to Provence and I had the impression it was just a new flavor for tourists. (though after reading this I checked the herbes de provence clay jar I bought at least 15 years ago, and lavender is listed as an ingredient, I never noticed!). I had a taste of lavender icecream and I must confess I prefer lavender as a fragrance in my wardrobe!

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  78. That tasy sauce looks just amazing!

    MMMMMMM,...thanks for the tips too!

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