Provençal Lavender Biscuit and Lemon Cheesecake

I was recently sent a parcel containing some wonderful French ingredients from an area of France called Vaucluse en Provence. The ingredients included a packet of dried lavender flowers, the most INCREDIBLE bright purple lavender biscuits, thyme, sweet bay leaves, a tub of herby Provence tomato paste and a tub of anchovy paste by Les Délices Du Luberon.

I was delighted to be able to create a recipe including some of these ingredients. To further inspire me, I also received a guide book detailing some of the gastronomy, local produce and restaurants of the area.
 
 
I have travelled many times to France, mainly staying along the Cote D’Azure and yes, the gastronomy and love of local food is definitely something that stays with you for a very long time. From visiting the fresh daily French markets (somewhat replicated by our less regular farmer’s markets) to sampling the haute cuisine within very unassuming Michelin starred restaurants, there is no doubt that if you are a foodie, a visit to France is a true gastronomic treat.
 
So, I was very interested to read all about Vaucluse en Provence, the smallest county in the Provence-Alps-Riviera region. The climate, most importantly, is Mediterranean, with 2800 hours of glorious sunshine a year. Who wouldn’t want to go there?! 
 
It is also an area which is gloriously rich in local produce of all descriptions, including figs, cherries, melon and grapes as well as honey, olives, garlic and best of all truffles. The region is actually the number one producer of truffles accounting for 70% of all French truffle production during the truffle season, which begins in November and takes us through the winter into March.
Organic farming is developing fast in Vaucluse and the geo-climatic diversity of the region means that a variety of crops happily grow there, some of them aromatic, such as lavender, others medicinal. The area is also rich in vineyards and stock breeding is also very strong so you can be guaranteed some of the best wines and meats around. 

Food-wise you can expect to eat dishes such as Filet Mignon of Pork with Melon, Rum and Garlic Cloves, Medallions of Monkfish with Basil, Apricot-Lavender Ice Cream, Roasted Figs with Sweet Wine or even a Lavender Sherbet (a Provençal dish using lavender flowers, lavender honey, lemon and egg whites) 

Personally, I would love to visit Vaucluse to take a cookery class as Provençal gastronomy is based on extremely high-quality local produce and is home to some really great chefs. In the meantime, I will pretend I am there with my parcel of goodies…the lavender inspiring me the most.

 
Lavender has a fantastic fragrance and culinary lavender has a wonderul taste. Lavender can easily be used to make Lavender Honey or Lavender Sugar to add an interesting twist to your cooking. For a wonderful lavender honey recipe do visit my friend Karen’s beautiful and inspiring French foodie blog called Lavender and Lovage, for her Home-made French Lavender Honey Pancakes….mmmn delicious and many more lovely dishes!
 
Chefs in Vaucluse use lavender sparingly, much in the same way as you would use vanilla or saffron. It should add a subtle flavour to your sweet or savoury dishes. Here’s my creation – a Lavender Biscuit and Lemon (no-cook) Cheesecake. If you happen to find these biscuits whilst out and about on your travels, they really do give this summer dessert a colourful lift! If not, you could try making your own lavender biscuits to bring in some lavender flavour – though they probably won’t be quite as purple!

 

Provençal Lavender Biscuit and Lemon Cheesecake (no-cook)
Serves 2
 
You will need two stainless steel chefs rings/moulds
 
Ingredients:
For the base
250g lavender biscuits
100g melted unsalted butter
For the topping:
150g Full Fat Cream Cheese
150g Full Fat Crème Fraîche
100g Vanilla Sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
 
Method:
 
1. You will need to crush your lavender biscuits first to make the base either by placing them in a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin or by whizzing them in a food processor. Once they are nice and fine, add your melted butter and mix well until all your crumbs are coated. Place your rings onto a flat board or plate and fill the moulds to make the base. Push down well and smooth until flat with the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to set, at least for an hour.
 
2. To make the filling, mix the cheese, crème fraîche, vanilla sugar and lemon zet together in a clean bowl. You may need to use a whisk to make sure there are no lumps.
 
3. Fill your ring moulds with the filling and again, smooth down with the back of a spoon. Place them back in the fridge to set, ideally over night.
 
4. To remove the cheesecakes from the rings, rub a hot cloth or towel around the edge of the moulds to release them over a plate. Serve on individual serving plates and garnish with either fresh springs of lavender or
sprinkle the plate with some dried lavender.
 
You can find out more information by visiting the Official Tourism Page of Vaucluse or have a look at their Facebook Page.
 
I am linking this post up to Karen’s wonderful Tea Time Treats event at Lavender and Lovage for a floral themed event this month! (May 2012)
 
Tea Time Treats
 

Have you visited this particular region in France? If so, what did you think and were there any gastronomic highlights?

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Comments

  1. Fabulicious Food says

    >Lovely comments :-) Thank you all. I really enjoyed putting this post together and eating it, of course.

    Such a tricky one with these biscuits. I was aware that they'd probably be impossible to get in the UK but they so inspired me. There was colouring in them. But then I though that we use colouring in cupcake frosting/buttercream so they would probably be no harm in buying some good quality paste colouring and experimenting with some shortbread…

    I do love France and yes Jacqueline, I too love those quaint little restaurants with a million Michelin stars on the side of the door…just a normal evening out!

  2. thelittleloaf says

    >Those lavender biscuits are so beautiful! I imagine they're not available anywhere in the UK so am tempted to try making my own…also love the idea above about experimenting with beetroot. Can imagine the colour would be beautiful, but not sure about the flavour!

  3. Jacqueline says

    >Happy memories Ren! My parents-in-law have a house in Provence so know the area quite well.You are completely spoiled for choice for food here; whether it be markets or restaurants.
    A nice restaurant to visit is Alexandre in Nîmes.The tasting menu is quite something and the experience is enhanced by chef and his wife coming out to speak to the diners. All the qualities of a michelin star chef without the celeb. status!

  4. Working london mummy says

    >Wow how stunning. I love those biscuits. A great idea. Nice composition too!

  5. Angela says

    >So pretty! But how did they get those biscuits to be so purple? I recently saw a lavender ice cream recipe here in Provence that suggested using food dye (surely not). I love lavender and am lucky enough to live close to where it is grown and have written a post on its many qualities, besides just culinary. I also have a recipe for lavender shortbread which are very delicious but definitely not purple!

  6. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

    >I adore Provence! I've been to Vaucluse and it is lovely. I've not seen those purple biscuits before though, would love to try them.

  7. Fabulicious Food says

    >Thank you Choclette, hmn, now you're asking, beetroot… Funnily enough the only time I have used beetroot within a recipe was in Vanessa's chocolate cupcakes which are kept super moist with the additon of grated beetroot. But I have to say I have never seen a beetroot biscuit recipe, could work, I might have to try! I can imagine that the colour would be stunning!

  8. Fabulicious Food says

    >Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Karen. Yes, you are the French Lavender Queen and I love your seasonal lavender recipes. I'll look out for your lavender sugar recipe. I think I mentioned to you that I also love Prepped! by Vanessa Kimbell which has a lovely chapter on lavender so I will be experimenting I am sure. I'll also look forward to your tians from Provence!

  9. Choclette says

    >Your cheesecake looks so pretty and the purple biscuits are fabulous. I know beetroot doesn't have quite the same ring to it as lavender, but you're now making me wonder if it would be possible to make purple beetroot biscuits – hmmmm. I've only used lavender in a chocolate cake so far and that worked brilliantly well. Now feeling very much as though I'd like to go to Vaucluse.

  10. Karen S Booth says

    >An absolutely stunning post Ren, and you have used one of my favourite kitchen ingredients, lavender…..I grow several varieties here in SW France and some are better for culinary uses, whilst others make great lavender bags, pillows and pot pourri…….

    MANY thanks for the link to my Lavender Honey, funnily enough I have just made some lavender sugar this week and will be posting it on my blog over the next few days…..it is in the recipe queue!

    I think your recipe is beautiful and I am going to see if I have time to make it before the summer ends…..and your photos and styling are stunning, GREAT lighting in all of them!

    I love no-cook cheesecakes in the summer, they are easy to make and lighter than their baked cousins!

    A fabulous post!

    Karen

    PS: I have visited that region of France, not recently however, and my favourite recipes from that region are the vegetable Tians ~ again,I made one recently and will be posting it soon…..I also love the tapenades from that region…..

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  1. […] Provençal Lavender Biscuit and Lemon Cheesecake « Fabulicious … The ingredients included a packet of dried lavender flowers the most INCREDIBLE bright purple lavender biscuits, thyme, sweet bay leaves, a tub of herby Provence tomato paste and a tub of anchovy paste by Les Délices Du Luberon. I was delighted Organic farming is developing fast in Vaucluse and the geo-climatic diversity of the region means that a variety of crops happily grow there, some of them aromatic, such as lavender others medicinal. The area is also […]