Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies Recipe

Black and white cookies and I have not always been the best of friends. To make a long story short, nearly five years ago I was tasked with making black and white cookies for a function for a family member. Easy enough, I thought. Turns out, I thought way, way wrong. The recipe I used at the time was an absolute disaster – the cookies weren’t smooth, the icings were impossible to spread. To say it was a mess is a gross understatement. Just ask my mom and sister, who were up in the wee hours with me trying to salvage cookies. I put myself on sabbatical from black and white cookies for a long, long time, but eventually I decided that I needed to conquer them. Well, conquer them I did!

Black and White Cookies Recipe

Black and whites are such pretty cookies, after all, and I thought they deserved another go-round. I finally mustered up the courage and found a recipe that flat-out worked. I’m talking start to completely finished in less than 2 hours. That’s my kind of recipe! It was exactly what the doctor ordered for overcoming recipe fright.

Black and White Cookies Recipe

If you aren’t familiar with them, black and white cookies are synonymous with New York City bakeries, and I always think of the Seinfeld “Look to the cookie!” episode when I see one. The texture is sponge-like, the cookies have a hint of lemon flavor, and are covered in vanilla and chocolate icings. They’re a fabulous change of pace from the typical chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies that are found in most bakeries.

Black and white cookies are something a little extra-special and they’re proof that with a little determination, baking fails can most certainly be transformed into baking wins.

Black and White Cookies Recipe

One year ago: Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Two years ago: Crunchy Good-for-You Granola Bars
Three years ago: Raisin Bran Muffins
Five years ago: Cheesecake Truffles

Black and White Cookies

Yield: 20 to 24 cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Black and White Cookies are a New York City deli classic and not very difficult to make at home!

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:
4 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup milk

For the Icing:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
5 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Make the Cookies: Adjust the oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. Beat the butter at medium speed for 30 seconds to loosen it up. Keeping the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar and then gradually increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, vanilla and lemon extract. Beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour in four additions and the milk in three additions (beginning and ending with flour), and mix until just combined. Give the mixture a few final stirs with a rubber spatula to ensure all of the flour has been incorporated.

4. Use a ¼-cup measuring cup to scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets about two inches apart. Using moistened fingers, gently press each mound of dough into a 2½-inch circle. Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Making the Icings: Melt the chocolate either in a medium bowl set over a small saucepan over barely-simmering water, or using the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments; set aside.

6. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Transfer ¾ cup of the icing to the bowl with the melted chocolate and whisk to combine.

7. Ice the Cookies: Place wire racks over wax paper to catch any drips. Use a small offset spatula to spread about 2 tablespoons of the vanilla icing onto half of each cookie. The icing should move on its own when the cookie is tilted; use the spatula to scrape any excess from around the edges. If the vanilla begins to thicken too much, stir in a teaspoon of warm water at a time until the icing goes back to a smoother, looser consistency. Place the finished cookies on the wire racks and allow to set for at least 15 minutes.

8. Again using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate icing on the half of each cookie, scraping any excess icing from around the edge of the cookies. If the chocolate icing thickens too much, place the bowl on a small saucepan of barely simmering water so that it can re-melt. If it's still too thick, you can add warm water, a teaspoon at a time, until it returns to the correct consistency. Place the finished cookies on the wire racks and allow to set for at least 1 hour.

9. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you stack the cookies, be sure to place a piece of wax paper between layers.

(Recipe from Baking Illustrated)

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117 Responses to “Black and White Cookies”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl on April 25, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Living in NYC, black and white cookies are everywhere – almost found at every single corner bodega or grocery you go to – always calling my name to come buy one. I love them dearly, thanks for sharing this. :)

    Reply

  2. Holiday Baker Man on April 25, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Black and White’s are so much better fresh

    Reply

  3. Tieghan on April 25, 2013 at 12:28 am

    I hate when cookies go wrong!! Lucky you had your mom an sister to help!

    These cookies look perfect! You totally showed those black and white cookies who is boss!

    Reply

  4. Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen on April 25, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Lately I have read a lot about black and white cookies and now looking at yours I really want to give them a go! I love baking illustrated- how can you go wrong!?

    Reply

  5. Laura (Tutti Dolci) on April 25, 2013 at 1:45 am

    These look absolutely perfect!

    Reply

  6. Renee @ Awesome on $20 on April 25, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I love fool proof. I’ve never tried a black and white, but I’ve been reading about them for years now. I need to get them done. Thanks for doing all the leg work and providing a great recipe.

    Reply

  7. Ellen on April 25, 2013 at 3:30 am

    I had never eaten a black and white cookie until I recently made the pumpkin version from the Joy the Baker cookbook. I need to make the normal ones now!

    Reply

    • Kim on April 25th, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Wooo Pumpkin B&W cookies.. that sounds wonderful. Could you possibility share that one with me.

      Reply

  8. Vanessa on April 25, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Oh these look great! They remind me a bit of neenish tarts that we have in New Zealand. They are pastry shells with a creamy super-sweet lemony filling & black and white icings on top. Would love to give this NY version a try!

    Reply

  9. Handmade Cheesecake Company on April 25, 2013 at 4:23 am

    Yuuummmm!!! They actually look quite light for a snack when you sse the picture with the bite taken out of it. I would love to try these.

    Reply

  10. teresa on April 25, 2013 at 4:53 am

    I admire your perseverance. When I try a recipe that is a total disaster, if it’s not something I did wrong,and unless it’s something I really, really want, I try to forget about it. But they do look pretty and good, so I’m going to make them for my kids.

    Reply

  11. Kim on April 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

    My favorite cookie!! And one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes :)

    Reply

  12. Marie @ Little Kitchie on April 25, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Yes! I can’t see these cookies without thinking of Seinfeld! Love them both!

    Reply

  13. Jeri Barry on April 25, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for sharing this recipe and for your candor regarding previous attempts. I too have been frustrated in my own attempts to conquer these. I will definitely give these a try as I have yet to find a recipe that encourages me to make them again. Love your blog!

    Reply

  14. Leah | So, How's It Taste? on April 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I LOVE black & white cookies! I never really bothered with them until last year when I went to Philadelphia and a bakery was serving them. They were life-changing. I can’t wait to try and bake my own!

    Reply

  15. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat on April 25, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I’m so excited about this recipe! My dad loves black and white cookies! I can’t wait to make them for him!

    Reply

  16. Tracey on April 25, 2013 at 8:56 am

    You’ve definitely conquered these, they look amazing!! Great pics, they make me want to reach through the screen and grab a cookie :)

    Reply

  17. Mercedes on April 25, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I have always wanted to make these classic, iconic cookies and this recipe looks so doable! Thanks!

    Reply

  18. Eva @ Eva Bakes on April 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Congrats on conquering these – they look awesome!

    Reply

  19. Rayna on April 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

    These are some of my favorites! I would love it when my parents would bring me back a little present from the deli :)

    Reply

  20. Amy on April 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Is there a viable substitute for the corn syrup in the icing? A family member is intolerant of corn and all corn derivatives (we use powdered sugar that is cut with potato starch instead of corn starch) and avoids it at all costs. Black and whites are his absolute favorite cookies, and i’d love to be able to make them for him.

    Reply

    • Jeanne on April 25th, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Hi, I have a make it yourself corn syrup substitute recipe 2 c white sugar; 3/4 c water; 1/4 tsp cream of tartar; and a dash of salt Combine all ingredients in a large heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 3 minutes to be sure you don’t have any sugar crystals remaining. Uncover the pan and cook stirring frequently until it reaches the soft boil stage. Cool and store in a covered container at room temperature this makes 2 cups, and it will keep for 2 months

      Reply

      • Michelle on April 25th, 2013 at 7:17 pm

        Thank you for sharing, Jeanne!

        Reply

      • Amy on April 26th, 2013 at 10:09 am

        Thank you!

        Reply

        • Jeanne on April 27th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

          Any time Amy, I really have serious issues with using corn syrup and always use this instead.

          Reply

    • Theresa on August 31st, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      FYI I hear you can also substitute corn syrup with glucose ;)

      Reply

  21. Modern Jane on April 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

    These look beautiful! I love the glossy icing!

    Reply

  22. Megan {Countrycleaver} on April 25, 2013 at 9:32 am

    It’s impossible to look at a Black and White cookie and not think of that Seinfeld episode! One of my favorites! These look fantastic!

    Reply

  23. Donna on April 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Congratulations! I have been looking for a Black and White cookie recipe with no success. Your cookies look authentic and I can’t wait to try them.

    Reply

  24. Michael on April 25, 2013 at 10:33 am

    These are one of my favorite cookies. My Mom would always bring them home from the bakeries in Montreal, NYC, or Baltimore. I’m excited I can now make them at home! I just saw them in Hannafords yesterday and they did not look appealing. Hopefully these turn out better!

    Reply

  25. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom on April 25, 2013 at 10:36 am

    OMG, I LOVE these!!!!

    Reply

  26. Emily on April 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

    These sound so yummy and easy, I’ll definitely be trying out your recipe!

    Reply

  27. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on April 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I’ve been meaning to try these! Yum!

    Reply

  28. Marcie @ Flavor The Moments on April 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I LOVE black and white cookies! Yours turned out beautifully. Glad you found that perfect recipe!

    Reply

  29. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on April 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

    These look fun and relatively easy to make!

    Reply

  30. Rena on April 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    amazing!!!

    Reply

  31. Kasha the FarmGirl on April 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    My son LOVES black & whites! I don’t share his passion for them, but since it’s his birthday this weekend, this post is very timely. Thanks!!!

    Reply

  32. Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion on April 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I immediately thought of Seinfield tooo.. must try!

    Reply

  33. colleen @ Secrets from the Cookie Princess on April 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I had almost the same experience with Black and White cookies. The first time I made them was just awful. I did try again and come up with a much better version, but it’s been a while. Guess it’s time to try one more time.

    Reply

  34. Wendy on April 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    One of my very favorite cookies. Had been looking for a recipe worth trying and this one looks fantastic. Can’t wait to give it a try.

    Reply

  35. Meghan @ Cake 'n' Knife on April 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    These are my favorite cookie!! It is so hard to find one that is perfectly chewy. I can’t wait to try these!

    Reply

  36. Emily on April 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Girl, you’re supposed to ice the flat side of the cookie. I’m a New Yorker and have been eating b+ws my whole life from Zabar’s and the like.

    Reply

  37. Lorna on April 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Upstate they are called half moons and they typically feature a fluffier/creamier cookie. Delicious however you make them!

    Reply

  38. Deon@iPinnedIt.com on April 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I have always wanted to try baking Black and White Cookies simply because they are so doggone pretty! Congrats on achieving success after all this time!

    Reply

  39. Noreen on April 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Does the recipe really make only 20-24 cookies using 4 cups of flour? Also, am I blind…lol…or is the vanilla icing recipe missing? Thanks much!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 25th, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Hi Noreen, Yes, they are quite large cookies! The icing recipe is there; you make one batch of icing and then mix some of it into the melted chocolate that’s included in the ingredient list; it’s explained in the directions.

      Reply

  40. Rebecca on April 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Look good. I agree with above poster, Upstate they are half moons and more like frosted chocolate cake with fluffier frosting.

    Reply

  41. JanetFCTC on April 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I’d heard of Black And White Cookies but never had them before. The frosting idea always made me leery (I’m lazy lol). This looks pretty foolproof however (and lazy proof :-P ) so I definitely bookmarking these!

    Reply

  42. Martha in KS on April 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    They make me want to sing “Ebony and Ivory…”

    Reply

  43. Jen M O on April 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I like Black and White Cookies. I purchased some at Mike’s Pastry at the North End and I thought they were delicious.

    Reply

  44. Ben on April 25, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Half-moon cookies we always called them! yum

    Reply

  45. Cindy @ pickfreshfoods.com on April 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Your cookies look amazing! I like that you used cake flour in the cookie batter, they must be nice and tender. Yum :)

    Reply

  46. Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts on April 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I absolutely love these cookies! I have family in New York and I always beg them to pick some of these up if I’m coming up for a visit!
    Yours look incredible!!

    Reply

  47. Kim Bee on April 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    These are wicked adorable. I’ve never made them. I think I see a black and white cookie day in my future.

    Reply

  48. Mags on April 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I love black and white cookies despite what was considered to be a non-pc name by our county who ordered a name change for the coffee stand that sold them in the lobby of the courthouse.
    Has anyone tried substituting agave for the corn syrup?

    Reply

  49. felicia on April 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    yum yum yum! i tried to make these a couple years back with a different recipe and wasnt too thrilled with how they turned out. i’ll have to try this version!

    Reply

  50. Jaclyn on April 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    These look perfect! I wish I had one for breakfast :)!

    Reply

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