After reading Lisa Horel’s Salon article about the Snowflake Pastry Shop Half Moon Cookies, I vowed not to make any until I got my hands on some fiori di sicilia, a flavoring described as “the essence of Italian flowers” which Lisa said was the key to good Black & White Cookies. She’d been eating them all her life, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. Sadly, after days days of searching my town for this flavoring, I gave up. No one carries it, which means I’ll have to order it from King Arthur. In the meantime, I decided to make some Black & White recipes (Black & Whites and Half Moon Cookies are pretty much the same thing) back to back and see which I like best. First up, was the Snowflake Half Moon recipe Lisa had adapted from her baking hero, Milt Ziegler.
Unlike a lot of Black & White recipes, this recipe does not call for buttermilk. It also calls for a mixture of butter and shortening, which I figured would give the cookies an interesting texture. The icing was a glaze rather than a fondant and was pretty straightforward (though Lisa recommends Valrhona cocoa, which I am still waiting to arrive in the mail) and of course there’s the issue of the fiori di sicilia. As a substitute, I increased the vanilla slightly, added a dash of orange extract, and threw in 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Other than the flavor alterations, I followed the recipe as Lisa wrote it and believe Uncle Milt would approve.
These were the largest Black & Whites I’ve ever made and the texture reminded me of the ones I’d eaten in New York. They’re slightly cakey, but very crumbly when you bite into them. My hodgepodge of flavorings gave them character, but I still can’t wait to try them with the special Italian extract.
By the way, if you’re wondering who Uncle Milt was, Lisa wrote another article about Uncle Milt and his Honey Cake.
Here’s the recipe for the Snowflake Pastry Shop Half Moon cookies.