NYC’s famous black and white cookies get a garden makeover. These cake-like cookies are iced with apple blossom rocket ganache on one side and a traditional lemon icing on the other.
- 15 g (½ oz/¼ cup) English spinach, stems removed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter
- 230 g (8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) buttermilk
- 375 g (13 oz/2½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp salt
Apple blossom rocket ganache
- 10 g (¼ oz/½ cup) apple blossoms, plus extra to decorate (optional)
- 85 ml (2¾ fl oz) thick (double/heavy) cream
- 20 g (¾ oz/1 cup) rocket (arugula), finely chopped
- 225 g (8 oz) white chocolate, broken into chunks
- 4 tsp milk powder
- 185 g (6½ oz/1½ cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 4 tsp light corn syrup
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1–2 tbsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 5 minutes
Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and leave to cool, then finely chop.
Add the blanched spinach, vanilla and 70 g (2½ oz) of the butter to a bowl and blitz using a hand-held mixer until combined. Transfer the green butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment together with the sugar and remaining butter and beat on high speed until voluminous, about 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs one by one, then gently fold in the buttermilk, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt to form a batter.
Scoop out tablespoons of the batter and dollop them onto the prepared baking tray, leaving around 5 cm (2 in) between each mound of batter to allow for spreading. With slightly wet fingers, pat and shape the batter mounds into circles, then transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache. Add the apple blossoms and cream to a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside to steep. Blanch the rocket in 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) boiling water until tender and bright green, then drain and push the warm rocket through a fine-mesh sieve to draw out a green water. Strain the infused cream into a bowl set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water, discarding the blossoms. Add the white chocolate and 40 ml (1¼ fl oz) of the rocket water and melt gently over a medium heat, stirring, until completely smooth. Whisk in the milk powder to combine.
Using a butter knife or a small metal spatula, spread a layer of ganache evenly over one half of each of the cooled cookies. Repeat until the ganache is thick and you can’t see the cookie underneath. If you like, scatter a few apple blossom petals over the ganache-covered side of the cookies to decorate.
To make the icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, then spread the icing over the other half of the cookies to finish. Leave to set before serving.
• Moss milkshake: While you have the buttermilk out for this recipe, make your very own moss. Grab 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) of buttermilk and blitz it together with a piece of found moss, then paint the mixture around shaded areas of your garden wherever you’d like a splash of emerald – on rocks, fences, concrete planters, even tree trunks. For the first few weeks spritz your baby moss using a mister filled with equal parts buttermilk and water to keep it moist and to encourage growth.
Recipe from Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb by Hayley McKee (Hardie Grant Books, $29.99). Photography © Tara Pearce.