Most Litha celebrations are sourced in European traditions. Whether it be an Italian all white midnight picnic or Celtic dancing around the community bonfire, summer solstice marks the shifting from the growing/waxing half of the Wheel of the Year to the half that is connected to dieing/waning and death.
Nordstjernan.com an online magazine celebrating all things Swedish in America, printed this description,” On Midsummer we eat and dance with abandon, leaving all worries behind. The sun never sets and there are flowers everywhere. ” Midsummer is even a national holiday in Sweden.
It is not at all surprising that bees are one of the animals of the summer solstice as honey, in all its forms (mead, raw, cakes and ales), is one of the festival foods of Litha. Now is the time to raid the pantry of all things infusing, curing or generally mellowing that speak of fire, strength and sun.
These honey cookies are made with rose and lavender infused honey that I have mentioned before but if that is not a handy option substitute wildflower honey or any locally produced honey available. Fir and pine also have strong connections to the summer solstice so these infusions would work as well.
The recipe calls for oil instead of butter and I used three tablespoons of dandelion and St. John’s Wort infused oil in the total amount needed. It is not a requirement but it was available and seemed perfect for a sun related celebration.
There are a number of herbs specifically connected to Litha. This is in part because herbs are at the height of their potency at this time of the year. I used fresh thyme in this recipe but other relatively easy to locate herbs could be substituted; basil, chervil, chive, fennel, mint, parsley, sage, rosemary, tarragon or vervain. Each would bring a different taste to the final cookie and the amount added might need adjusting. Lemon, a suggested addition to solstice incense was added in zest form instead of a more standard vanilla extract.
It is best to make these a few days in advance, giving the honey time to soften the cookies before serving.
You will need:
1/3 cup oil (herb infused if you have it available)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flower infused honey, rose and lavender
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Raw sugar, or violet infused sugar for rolling
As mentioned above, summer solstice is a time for letting go of all your worries, so it is highly appropriate to be in that same energetic place while preparing these offerings. If you have trouble doing that imagine a basket sitting in the corner of the room. It has a lid on it and you can lift the lid and place all those nigglies inside before putting the top back down, tightly. Know that once you are finished baking, if you really need them, they will be available for you to pick up again.
For now, take a deep breath, feel the freedom and lightness of letting go. Wash your hands, grab your apron, invite the compassionate spirits and enjoy the creative process.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie tray(s) with parchment.
I really enjoyed doing this recipe by hand, There was no need to beat butter so it was nice to get into the flowing patterns of movement, mixing dandelion and St. John’s Wort with rose and lavender, thyme and lemon.
In a sifter mix add the flour and baking soda.
Sift the dry ingredients into the liquid ones, in thirds, mixing everything together after each addition.
Shape the dough into balls and roll in sugar making sure to coat the whole cookie.
I made three different varieties, one with balls the size of walnuts, rolled in raw sugar cane sugar and then pressed down with two fingers. They worked well but I was looking for a lighter finished colour for Litha and wanted to get away from the browner tones of raw sugar.
There were also two smaller balls, about the size of half a walnut. One version was rolled in violet infused sugar. That is sugar flavoured by adding whole violets. The sugar is still white but has taken on the flavour of the violets. (This was my preference but if it is not already sitting on a shelf, plain sugar is the other option.)
The other was baked plain and then tossed in violet sugar, a mixture of ground violets and white sugar. It did not seem a good idea to roll the cookies in violets and sugar before baking as that would turn the ground petal pieces black.
Place the cookies on the parchment covered trays and bake. The smaller cookies will be done when they are lightly browned on top, in about 8 – 10 minutes. The larger cookies took just over 12 minutes.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container for at least 24 hours. You will find that the cookies will soften and the flavours will ripen over time.
Please take this recipe as a suggestion of how to blend the traditional elements of the season into a celebratory cookie.
Weather and latitude will dictate what is available for your cookie creation. The point here is to gather together what is locally available ( fresh honey, eggs and herbs ) with what has been previously prepared ( infused honey, flour and zest ) to create something uniquely appropriate for Litha.
It is not a chocolate chip and nut kind of cookie for munching on with a glass of milk but rather something to nibble while toasting the day with sun infused tea. Consumable expressions of the benefits that come to us through Earth’s relationship with the sun. Feel the gratitude, freedom and lightness however you celebrate. Be ready to eat, drink and be merry met all night long, (dancing with abandon encouraged).
Above are the larger ones, rolled in raw sugar. And these are the smaller ones, rolled in violet sugar.
Litha Honey Drops from My Kitchen Wand