Black and White Cookies

The Black and White Cookie

It’s Black, It’s White

 The Chocolate Goddess knows that Themis, the Goddess of Justice, loves the balance of vanilla and chocolate frosting.  The black and white, as it is known in New York, is her favorite cookie as it is the most unbiased of all cookies.  It is a cookie that teaches one to show integrity in their feelings towards different flavors and accept both vanilla and chocolate.  Barack Obama referred to them as the unity cookie.  A Seinfeld episode had Jerry referring to them as a cookie representative of racial harmony.  He says, “People should look to the cookie.”

 The black and white is the official cookie of New York City, popular in all its five boroughs. It seems to have originated in Yorkville, New York in 1902 by a Bavarian Bakery known as Glaser’s. The black and white was among the founder's, Justine and John Glaser, original recipes.  Another version of the black and white cookie was said to come from Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica, New York early in the 1900’s.  There is also evidence that this cookie had earlier beginnings in Europe.

The black and white has been known as the half-moon cookie, but the name evolved in New York simply as the black and white.  They are an ode to an accord between both vanilla and chocolate and an opportunity to merge both flavor preferences, as well as, a reminder that both are better together.

There is not much one can change in this cookie recipe in order to capture its original essence. Ruth Reichl, former food critic at the New York Times, Editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine and cookbook author, Sally’s Baking Addiction and Epicurus all have composed a very similar version of the recipe. Some suggest to add a hint of lemon, but my old stomping ground in Queens was partial to the unadulterated taste of vanilla and chocolate.  The Chocolate Goddess is in favor of the traditional Queens rendition. The lemon competes too much with the chocolate and this is a cookie; there should be no competition of flavors, but rather a sense of a taste harmony.

If mass produced and wrapped in plastic, the cookie loses some of its cake-like softness and the icing loses flavor. This is probably one of the reasons they have not hit the charts like the Oreo® or Chocolate Chips.  These cookies are not hard to make and it is well worth the effort of baking them at home in order to experience one of the best cookies of all time.

 This is a soft cake-like cookie that you flip over to frost to allow more surface area for icing. The black and white is traditionally a large cookie, with icing that is a bit soft and thick. The Chocolate Goddess version is a bit smaller (but still bigger than your average cookie) to allow one to eat the whole cookie mindfully, sans guilt. 

There are those black and white aficionados who will bite one side and then the other, trying to end up with even mouthfuls.  Others enjoy one side while saving their flavor favorite for last.  No matter which way you choose to eat these cookies, you will see that, in the end, both flavors are better together. 

Cookie Ingredients

2/3 cup Whole Milk

2 teaspoons White Vinegar

2 ½ cups Heckers® Unbleached Flour

1 teaspoon Arm and Hammer Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Salt

11 tablespoons Unsalted Butter at room temperature

1 ¼ cup Domino® Granulated Sugar

1 ½ teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Large Eggs at room temperature, lightly whisked

 Makes 24 medium size cookies, using a 2 tablespoon scoop

 Icing Ingredients

9 cups Domino Confectioners Sugar

 ¾ teaspoon Salt

3 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

2 ¼ teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

¾ cup Whole Milk, Plus 2 tablespoons (add slowly)

1 cup Nestle® Unsweetened Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder


 Baking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment.

Using whole milk, make your own buttermilk by adding 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the milk.  Let stand. Most brands of buttermilk found in the supermarket are low fat and don’t give the same richness to the baked item, so just make your own!

Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Beat butter until creamy. 

Add sugar and vanilla to butter and beat until light and fluffy.

Incorporate eggs.

Stir buttermilk.

Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk to sugar, vanilla, butter, and eggs mixture.

Drop onto parchment using two tablespoon scoop.  (You can test your scoop by adding water to see how much it holds.)

ONLY 6 cookies to a sheet, because they spread.

Bake 10 minutes and take them out immediately once you see the SLIGHTEST hint of gold on the edge.  .  If your oven is fast check them sooner.  10 ½ to 11 minutes would be maximum baking time for slower ovens.  The cookies are easy to make but the timing is crucial.

Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheet.

Icing Instructions

Turn all cookies over on a clean sheet of parchment or rack so that flat side is up.

Place the Confectioners Sugar, corn syrup vanilla extract, salt and ¾ cup of milk in a large bowl.  Beat at slowest speed until it begins to incorporate. Continue beating on the lowest speed only until smooth.  This can also be done by hand. Test icing and make sure it is spreadable, but opaque and thick.  If not, SLOWLY add more milk by the tablespoon.

Divide the icing mixture in two and reserve one half.

First thickly ice the white side of all the cookies with a small offset spatula.

Add the sifted cocoa to the remaining half the batter.  If it is thick, slowly add a tablespoon of corn syrup to that mixture.  Traditionally, the chocolate side is supposed to be thicker, so just add enough extra corny syrup to make it spreadable.

Then frost all cookies with chocolate frosting. 

Let icing dry for a couple of hours.  Cookies may be stored in single layers in a plastic container for a week or they may be frozen in a container.