The road ends, but the journey continues...

Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle #3

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalms 34:8

Inside view of my 'loaded brownies minus one ingredient'

Inside view of my ‘loaded brownies minus one ingredient’

This edition of the Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle answers the question presented in the first VBSC post: What exactly is the missing ingredient in my ‘loaded brownies minus one ingredient’?
In a word: Lavender. In a story?

—Ooo-La-La Lavender Brownies—

was the number one fav vignette of my little list* for 2012. Since then, I figured out the proportions to be 1/8 cup crushed dried lavender buds added to the Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix, using a large egg in the prep. (see recipe here)
Personally, if I eat more than two, I’ve found that they don’t settle so well on my tummy…kind of reminiscent of their alluded to ‘cousin’ edible.


—Ooo-La-La Lavender Brownies—

from: Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes
January 2012 (hotel room, Fountain Hills, AZ)

 It all started out innocently enough.
Planning on spending the day with my friend Susan in her kitchen baking and cooking, I took off for her place with a box of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix in hand along with an egg and my trusty purple Pyrex square baking dish.  She and Luc are the proud new homeowners of a home in Mesa, Arizona that boasts three orange trees.  Since the trees have come into harvest, Susan and I both thought we’d try adding the zest of a whole orange to the already yummy chocolaty Ghirardelli mix.  While we were toodling around in the kitchen, she pulls out a baggie of dried lavender flowers and mentions that she’d read somewhere that adding it to chocolate enhances the chocolate flavor.  Why not try a little lavender in the Ghirardelli mix, too?
Sounds like my type of baking fun.  Experimentation.  Next step: figure how much lavender to put into the mix. We’d already incorporated the zest of one orange into the batter.  Hmm, such a delicate flavor, maybe we should only add it to a small area of the batter instead of the entire brownie batter.  After tasting a few dried lavender flowers, we decided on adding a heaping teaspoon of the herb, gently crushed to extract some of its essential oils, into a trough made by the rubber spatula into one third of the brownie pan batter.  Now, into the oven for almost an hour and onto making a new-to-me carrot-orange soup.
Ah, what bliss.  I haven’t been able to do any real cooking or baking since leaving our son’s place in Colorado last September.  Making do with our hotel room microwave and mini fridge day in and day out has been a different type of adventure.  I’ve been up to that challenge, but now that Susan’s oven has been deciphered (along with those three orange trees, they also inherited an ancient Magic Chef oven with unreadable control knobs) she invited me to come cook in her kitchen from time to time.
Chop, chop, chop.  There are a lot of carrots to chop to make a carrot-orange soup; and, a lot of oranges to squeeze to make a cup of juice.  With both of us busily focused on the soup, the dinger dings and it’s time to take out those brownies from the oven.  Mmmm, they smell heavenly.  Loaded with chocolate and orange aromas, but what about that lavender?
Once cooled, we both decide to focus on the lavender side of the brownie pan since we’d have fresher palates to critique the overall effect of the lavender:

Susan – Hmmm, I’m not tasting it, are you?

Me – How about let’s just eat the lavender parts of the brownie. Gee, the dried lavender peeking through the top crust of the brownies looks kind of like…oh dear!

Susan – Hmm, still not tasting it; just feels like it’s cutting the orange taste a bit.

During the tasting process of those very rich chocolate brownies, I decided to pick up the stray dried lavender flower buds that had landed on the counter onto my finger and crush them in my mouth much like how you do with extra sesame seeds.  Added to the already lingering chocolate from a recently consumed lavender brownie, I tried to savor the flavor.  Hmm, not much to it, but okay, maybe next time we’ll just bake up some pure Lavender Brownies.
Meanwhile, Susan and I have been discussing the medicinal merits of herbs in general and the attributes of lavender oil specifically.  Widely used and accepted in aromatherapy as being a great stress reducer, tension reliever, and natural relaxant, lavender is clearly the herb of choice for modern (wo)man.

Susan – I wonder if the health benefits of lavender can be gotten by eating the dried flower buds.

Me – I suppose it’s possible, but…why would anyone want to eat their perfume?

Susan – Well, I’m wondering because I’m beginning to feel a bit…floaty.

Me – Oh Susan, you’ve got to be kidding!  It’s just the power of suggestion.

The second dinger dings to let us know that the carrot-orange soup has simmered enough and is ready to be ladled out and served for our lunch.  Susan calls for Luc to come join us as we set the table, slice the French bread, etc.  It seems to be taking Susan a really long time to do easy stuff like gathering the paper napkins and such, but no matter, I just offer Luc one of the last remaining lavender brownies for him to taste test.
The carrot-orange soup turned out fantastically well.  That’s good, because it took a lot of time to make and I was beginning to feel the effects of having chopped all those carrots.  Oh, not tired really, but just mellow, really really mellow, really really relaxed, really really gooooood.  Nah, can’t be…could it?
In my pleasantly altered state, I had a hard time getting up from that table to help clear the dishes and pick up after our baking/cooking extravaganza, but I did my best.  I remember telling Susan that I was envious that she could just go take a nap and veg-out while I had to drive back home since it was getting on to 3pm and I needed to get back.  As I was starting up the car to leave, Susan’s last comment to me was, “Are you sure you can drive?”
What an odd thing to ask.  Of course I can drive, I’m just a little relaxed that’s all, a little…floaty.  Nah, can’t be…could it?
Lavender Brownies.
Legal and healthy feel-good brownies:  Ooo-La-La!
*my little list consists of family, friends, fans, former students, colleagues and assorted others who opted in to my email messages sent before, during and after our three-year journey between homes


  1. Lori

    Ha. Are you sure that was lavender you used? Hehe. I’ll have to remember that. I have a brownie mix sitting in my pantry now. So, where do you get dried lavender flowers? 😉

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, that’s why we did the double take after eating them. HA!
      I used to think things like lavender buds, local honey, flax seeds, decent deli meats and green chilies and etc etc were available everywhere…since moving to the South I’ve learned otherwise.
      But with you back in Chicago, perhaps the usual places like farmers markets and spice shops…even a whole foods (?) would be possible sources. Be sure they’re for consumption and pesticide-free. Maybe even in Chicago that’s too much to ask…I’m such a westerner, these things are common out there.

  2. Cindy

    I’ve never had lavender chocolate brownies! Sounds Yummy! 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, they are! Thanks for stopping by, Cindy.

  3. Mary

    Don’t let the feds know, or lavender will be outlawed

    • laura bruno lilly

      I see you’re one to decipher a double entendre effortlessly – my kinda gal!

  4. Jane Chesebrough

    H-m-m-m lots of talking about herbs here in Canada these days. I think the brownies sound delicious and so does the soup, although I would want to try the latter before and after adding some curry to the mix. The best part of the mix is the shared time in the kitchen with good friends. I liked clicking on the link to a previous post to see adorable Dizzy hovering over a plate of brownies.I quite enjoyed reading this, gave me a smile and stimulated my taste buds.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yesss, curry! We held back on that ingredient because we wanted to taste-test it in it’s more ‘pure’ form, unobscured by the curry itself. But, yum a most welcome addition to be sure.
      And you’re right, the best part for me then and now is the shared time in the kitchen with good friends and family!
      Maybe we might get to gab over a batch of my ‘loaded brownies’ someday.
      Take care, Jane.

  5. Janis

    If lavender can give me a complete night’s sleep, I say bring on those brownies (although the chocolate might have the opposite effect).

    • laura bruno lilly

      The chocolate didn’t work against the whole of the lavender on that day in 2012…ahem…

  6. Roseanne

    Hi Laura,
    I wondered, too, if the lavender isn’t stronger when it’s dried? I thought so. I would never have thought to add it to brownies but may try that next time.
    ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, it is stronger when dried, but I also think it again depends upon the variety – some used mostly for fragrance vs for oil production vs flavor enhancement etc.
      Maybe the color associated with this flower will inspire a new quilt design in your future????

  7. Anna Scott Graham

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE this! Hmm, now to ponder how and more importantly when to give it a go. 😀

    • laura bruno lilly

      They have stiff competition with your infamous pies, though!

  8. Deborah Brasket

    Ummm, that sounds yummy. We have several lavender plants but I’ve never baked with them before. Now may be the time to try it~

    • laura bruno lilly

      I haven’t a clue as to whether or not certain varieties of lavender bake up better than others…maybe you can do some kitchen baking experimentation?

  9. Jill

    I sprinkle lavender oil on my pillowcases each night, it definitely helps me to sleep better.

    • laura bruno lilly

      And it smells heavenly, too!

  10. L. Marie

    Isn’t lavender good for restful sleep? It also reduces stress. So no wonder you guys were so mellow.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Another one of nature’s medicinal cures…
      Just watched Wizard of Oz (original) last night and thought: shoulda been a field of lavender…HA!

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