NYC-Style Black & White Cookies
Welcome to Chocolate Week. Phew. We made it. After writing a blog about heathy food 51 weeks a year, arriving at the one week in the calendar when we really let our hair down is a real treat. It can be hard to decide what to make though. There’s so many chocolatey things I want to create (greetings, chocolate peanut butter pie) but I decided I needed to pick the one thing I would like to eat regularly–not some over-the-top, only on a special occasion confection. So I landed on my all-time favourite cookie: the Black and White. Now, if you read SPC often, you know I’m from the States and I spent many years living in New York City. Plus both my parents were raised in New York so I was basically expected to eat oversized street pretzels with course salt as an infant. But the black and white cookie is sort of a food institution for me–it’s right up there with a Gray’s Papaya hot dog.
I never return to NYC and not get a black and white cookie–That would be like visiting home and forgetting to kiss my mother. But it’s also no chore to find them since they’re literally on every street corner. As the unofficial cookie of New York City, they live in the zillion of deli’s that spot every avenue and street, not some trendy, hole-in-the-wall bakery with a line out the back serving the confection of the moment. If you’ve never had one, then don’t let me fool you into thinking they’re a cookie. Contrary to its name, the black and white cookie is made from what is basically a cake batter that yields a supremely soft and moist cake but has the baking chops to be handled like a cookie. Oh, and did I mention, it’s the size of a coffee saucer?
Like the top wafer of an oreo begs to be unscrewed from its centre so you can scrape away the sweet middle, there is definitely a right way to eat a black and white cookie. Frosted in vanilla icing on one side and chocolate on the other, you must snap the treat in half, right down the centre where the two icings meet. Then you start by eating your least favourite side. In my case, the vanilla glazed goes down first. Oh! The icing! Goodness, how do I not speak of the icing?! I know when I say cake, you say frosting but it really is more a glaze–although the chocolate side has a rich, fudginess that doesn’t jive with the definition of a glaze. In other words, the black and white is cookie nirvana. And you thought NYC was all about some fussy cronut!
In preparation to making these gorgeous little gems, I researched dozens of recipes for a black and white cookie. All of them were essentially the exact same recipe, so there’s clearly a strict formula to recreating these babies. As a result, I decided to not try my own version. I just picked a recipe from a trusted baking site, Joy of Baking. I have to admit I was a bit nervous making something I hold so dear. What if it tasted nothing like my beloved corner-store staple? Worse. What if it tasted like sawdust?
But they didn’t. In fact, they tasted damn close to the original. But getting my recipe to look and taste the same wasn’t the history making moment for me. It was the tweet. When I took to Twitter to proudly share my baking and decorating accomplishment (you need time and patience to get that glaze on both sides), I was blown away by one response. Here, see for yourself.
- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups cake and pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/3 — 1/2 cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ounce milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt.
Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add one egg at a time, beating after each. (Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.)
Pour in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
With the mixer on low speed, alternate flour mixture with milk, beginning and ending with flour.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter on to prepared baking sheets.
Flatten batter with the palm of your hand (it helps if your hand is moist so the batter doesn't stick) making it about a 2 1/2 inch round.
Be sure to space the cookies apart because they will spread as they bake.
Bake for about 15 — 18 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just slightly browned and the center's yield a clean toothpick.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
For the glaze:
In a large bowl, place the confectioners sugar and slowly stir in the hot water, corn syrup, vanilla extract and keep stirring until blended.
Add a bit more water if the mixture is too thick, or more sugar if too runny.
Place 1/2 the frosting into a heatproof bowl.
Add the finely chopped chocolate and place the bowl of a saucepan with simmering water.
Allow the chocolate to melt into the frosting, stirring until is a smooth consistency.
Remove from heat.
Flip the cookies over so the flat bottom is facing up and, working from the center of the cookie out towards the edges, gently frost one half of the cookie with the white icing.
Set it down and continue frosting the rest of the cookies.
Starting with the first cookie you frosted (allowing it to set for a few moments keeps the the frosting from running into each other), again, work from the center out to the edges and frost the other half with the chocolate frosting.
Allow the cookies to set.
Store in airtight container or zipper bags for up to a week.
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