Michigan is currently being blessed with an early spring right now and I have never been happier about it. The flowers are popping up a bit earlier and the earth is thawing. I’m holding my breath for one or two more light snows as Michigan likes to do. I am looking forward to all the spring things like ramps, peas and fresh greens from the garden. The tastes of spring have me switching from heavy rich chocolates to light and bright flavors like lemon and other citrus fruits. I had a craving this weekend for something sweet so I whipped up a batch of these lemon blondie bars and made a lavender buttercream icing to go with them. Oh my goodness. I should have added more icing to my lemon blondies. The lavender buttercream icing stole the show on these.
Last year in my garden I grew about 30 lavender plants and it looks like at least 20 of them made it through the winter. I harvested and dried my lavender so I can use it for recipes like this. If you don’t have lavender growing in your garden fear not! Many health food stores and specialty grocers sell it. If you would prefer you can use a food grade lavender essential oil as well. To me though, nothing pulls through the flavor better than dried lavender buds.
I made two cups of lavender milk even though this recipe will only use 1/2 cup of milk. I use the extra lavender milk in my lattes. A little froth and a shot of espresso and it’s a delightful treat to start your morning. To make lavender infused milk all you need to do is heat up 2 cups of milk on the stove (I used 2%) and then add two tablespoons of dried lavender and let is simmer over low heat for about fifteen minutes. Remove from the stove and allow the lavender to rest in the heated milk at least two hours. If you are not going to be using it right away move it to the fridge. After a few hours pour the milk through a fine mesh sieve and use for things like frosting, lattes or other baked goods that call for milk and you want a bit of that extra lavender flavor in.
I am a creature of habit and you can tell by combing through my blog history. Almost two years ago to the date I made these lavender short bread cookies. I can’t believe how little Otto was! Apparently I was super into lavender in 2019 because I also made a lavender simple syrup. I still make that recipe to this day because it’s awesome for cocktails, lemonades and more.
Lavender is truly one of my favorite herbs hence why I planted over thirty plants in my garden. When the summer breeze blows from the top of the hill the entire garden smells like fresh lavender. I lined my pathways with it and it’s just such a cheerful scent. Like fresh laundry.
I am hoping to add a few more varieties this year but that is a topic for a different day.
Let’s get back to these lemon blondies.
There are a few places that make realllly good lemon bars and farmhouse deli in Saugatuck, Michigan is one of those places. They gooey, super tart and rich. Just how I like them. They pair perfectly with a hot cup of coffee.
These lemon blondies are more of a cake like consistency and I went just a little light on the lemon because I didn’t want it to compete with the lavender buttercream icing. For the flowers I used a Wilson Cake’s 2D flower tip and then the center is just some pearl sprinkles I bought from the craft store.
Here is what you need to make these Lemon Blondie Bars with Lavender Buttercream Frosting.
Lavender Buttercream Frosting
- 2 tbsp of dried lavender
- 2 cups of 2% milk (you will have extra milk)
- 8 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
Lemon Blondie Cake Bars
- 2 Sticks of unsalted butter
- 1.5 cups of sugar
- 5 eggs
- zest of two lemons
- 4 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 3/4 cups of flour
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- pinch of salt
To make the Lavender Buttercream Icing
- In a small pan over low/ medium heat add 2 cups of milk with 2 tbsp of dried lavender and stir. Allow to simmer over low/medium heat about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest at least two hours.
- Once the milk is at room temperature pass the milk through a fine mesh sieve to remove the dried lavender.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer add two sticks of room temperature unsalted butter with 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla and 1/2 cup of milk. Mix until incorporated.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time mixing in between each addition until incorporated. Store covered at room temperature for two days. DO NOT store in the refrigerator it will separate.
To make the lemon blondies
- Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, spray or butter the paper and preheat your oven to 350F
- In the bowl of a mixer beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one a time beating after each addition.
- Beat in the lemon zest and juice.
- Mix in the flour until combined.
- Mix in the baking soda and salt until combined.
- Pour into prepared 9×13 baking dish and bake at 350F for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan about ten minutes. Remove, slice, frost.
I think liking lemon might be a sign of becoming an adult because I never used to care for it as a kid. Now as an adult I feel like i’m eating fruit so the calories don’t count. Right? Isn’t that how this works?