When I first moved to the Bay area, I fell in love with the little orange flowers readily decorating my new backyard. They seemed so delicate, but grew so profusely. I welcomed their vibrant bursts of color and their leaves that looked like floating lily pads. I was soon to notice these flowers all over the neighborhood, whether spilling over a fence or taking over a nearby garden.
It turns out that nasturtiums, as they’re called, are practically ubiquitous in our area; they grow like weeds, and are even considered weeds by some. But as far as I’m concerned, their commonality doesn’t take away any charm. And discovering that nasturtiums are edible has given me even more adoration for them.
When I’ve asked around about eating nasturtiums, I’ve been repeatedly told about their peppery flavor, and how they make a nice garnish or salad addition. While undeniable, these observations left my inner baker unsatisfied. I found myself asking, Why not highlight their spiciness with a sweet-spicy dough? Why not blend their vivid color into a complementary shade of jam?
It wasn’t long before I went nasturtium-picking, and before I knew it, I’d transformed them into a delectable treat. The resulting cookies are subtly peppery, sweet and buttery, and they impart a refreshing floral fruitiness in every bite. Wonderful with a hot cup of tea or coffee, they’re perfect any time of year nasturtiums can be found — or any time of day for that matter. Here’s the recipe.
Nasturtium Fingerprint Cookies (makes about 40 small cookies)
FOR THE FILLING:
10 nasturtium flowers
½ cup apricot preserves
Rinse nasturtiums well and inspect closely for bugs, rinsing again if needed. Remove petals; discard stems and leaves (they are edible but not so pleasant for baking, in my opinion). Dry petals well, then slice them into small pieces. Gently mix the minced petals into the apricot preserves. Set aside. (I left mine in the fridge overnight and was amazed by its remarkable flavor the next day; the taste of apricots came alive with tropical, citrusy hints.)
FOR THE DOUGH:
1 cup butter at room temperature
Scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
5 nasturtium flowers
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix butter and granulated sugar until creamy and even, then sift the flour, white pepper, and salt (if using) over the mixture. Mix dough by hand until it sticks together.
Wash, mince and dry 5 nasturtiums, then add to dough and mix until evenly distributed. While still at room temperature, roll dough into balls about 1 scant tablespoon each, and place on cookie sheets at least 1.25 inch apart. Pressindex finger about 3/4 of the way into each ball.
Put the apricot-flower preserves in a pastry bag or plastic bag with a small piece of the corner cut off, and fill the fingerprints until filling just domes over the surface of the cookie. Preheat oven to 325˚ F. While oven heats, chill the filled cookies for 10 minutes in the freezer or 30 minutes in the fridge. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges and bottoms are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature on cookie sheets.
FOR THE ICING (OPTIONAL):
½ cup powdered sugar
2+ teaspoons orange or lemon juice
Place powdered sugar in a bowl and gradually whisk in the citrus juice. If too thick for drizzling, add just a few more drops of juice, being careful not to make it too thin. Lightly drizzle across the cooled cookies, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or until icing is firm and dry to the touch.
Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers where this post first appeared.