New York Black + White Cookies

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

New York can lay claim to a number of iconic foods, thin crust pizza, cheesecake, bagels, and the black + white cookie. They’re found in most bodegas, grocery stores, and delis – anywhere with a bakery case, and like many things in New York, the black + white cookie requires some explanation to be fully understood and appreciated.

First, the texture is soft and fluffy like cake, not crisp or crunchy, and that’s on purpose. In my research travels I learned that this unique quality probably springs from thrifty bakers making use of leftover cake batter and turning it into an alternate product to reduce waste.

Second, there’s lots of debate over the frosting consistency, but typically it’s firm and smooth, not quite fondant and certainly thicker than icing. The type of dense, almost fudgy frosting that holds its shape once it has set and stays put even after a bite. When I see swirls or frosting that looks smoosh-able I avoid.

Third, black + whites are always frosted on the flat side. That’s right once baked, the cookies are turned bottom side up leaving the slightly curved dome underneath like the hull of a boat.

I rediscovered these cookies after a long hiatus when we moved to the city a few years ago – Upstate when I was a kid we called them “half-moon cookies” but here in the city they go by the more straightforward “black + white” – and it’s been true love ever since (both city and cookie.)

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Three-Bite NYC Black + White Cookies (yield: 2 dozen cookies)

Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Vanilla Icing Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the room temperature butter and sugar until creamy with a hand mixer. Add in the vanilla extract and egg and mix until well combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Add a third of the flour mixture at a time alternating with the buttermilk. Mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be thick, fluffy, and pale yellow.

Use a cookie scoop or pastry bag to portion the cookies spacing them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Note on Portion: The cookies spread a bit and puff up. A 1 tablespoon portion of batter will yield a cookie about 1.5 inches in diameter.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees F. for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed gently and the cookies are a light golden brown around the edges. Cool completely before icing.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the vanilla icing by whisking the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, water, vanilla, and salt together until very smooth. Do the same in a separate bowl for the chocolate icing, whisking together the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, salt.

The icing should be thin enough that it is easily spreadable, but not runny. If it seems dry, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time; if it’s too thin, add confectioner’s sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Flip the cooled cookies so their flat sides are up. Use an offset spatula or piping bag to spread vanilla icing on half of the cookies, allow the icing set for a few minutes, then spread chocolate icing on the other half.

Store the cookies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper at room temperature for up to two days.

Re-written and lightly adapted from Yossy Arefi’s Mini Black & White Cookies via Food52.

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, for a frosted cookie they’re relatively low-maintenance. I used a medium mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, electric hand mixer, two rimmed baking sheets, measuring cups and spoons as well as a rubber spatula, cookie scoop, offset spatula, and wire whisk.

The Verdict:
I made these for a friend and was delighted to learn that they’re her favorite cookie and were served at her wedding. They received G’s stamp of approval, which is high praise. This particular recipe is my ideal, made from simple, easily sourced ingredients. Deep, dark bittersweet chocolate married to sweet vanilla frosting on top of a cloud-like cake. Sublime and an excellent recipe to keep for the days when a black + white might not be a trip to the corner away.

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Reading Material: Milestones Edition

Rooseveldt Park New York, NY

Today I turn 35. This seems impossible and my brain refused to compute that information mainly because I don’t feel that old or like I could really be in my mid-thirties, no way. I woke up just the same as yesterday! I think I’m supposed to be worrying about eye cream now (why are there so many?), but instead I’ve decided to reflect on my blessings.

I’m grateful that I started my birthday on a long walk with Maddie pup. The air is crisp, the leaves are finally starting to turn, and the rising sun illuminated the plane trees in the park making them look like sculptures. I’m grateful that we came inside to a cozy apartment and that breakfast was a giant cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal.

I’m thankful to be loved and supported by my husband, family and friends. The calls, cards, and well-wishes began to roll in from across the globe starting early this morning and that later this afternoon Mike and I are going on a little adventure to the North Fork this weekend to celebrate.

In the end I’m grateful for the years behind me and the experiences they contain. I hope the years to come will be as kind. For now, I hope the future holds more time with my family and friends – preferably gathered around a table with something delicious cooking in the kitchen.

Reading Material:

This cocktail called the “522 North Pinckney” from the Joseph Leonard menu sounds perfect for a birthday celebration. (via Bon Appétit)

SO, so delighted to hear that Aran Goyoaga of the gorgeous blog Cannelle et Vanille is teaching a workshop at Sunday Suppers in Brooklyn this May!

Personally, I don’t think the black & white cookie needs any updating, but if you’re in the market for some new ideas Grubstreet has some thoughts…

The Kitchn applied Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to, well, the kitchen. Particularly helpful for those of us living and cooking in small spaces!

Not food related, but I thought this one question style quiz on Apartment Therapy was fascinating and accurate! I’m a Simple Chic with a New Traditional rising, in case you were curious.