Black and White Cookies

It no doubt stems from the New Yorker in me, but I love Black and White cookies. They’re a perfect balance of chocolate and vanilla, like those half and half dixie cups we used to have on Sundays at camp. (You guys know what I’m talking about.) I always preferred the chocolate half myself, but you need a bite or two of the vanilla to even things out.

So when I found out most of my coworkers had never had, or even heard of, these cookies, I sought out a recipe to remedy the situation. The one I found is great, a nice, thick, cakey cookie with frosting that contains a hint of lemon. (Well, until I made them last week for my family, but I digress.) So although I’ve made these a few times for my LA friends, it was the first time I’d made them for the family. This recipe supposedly makes 8 cookies, but those would be HUGE. I doubled the ingredients, halved the scoop portion, and still ended up with around 30 sizable cookies.

I adapted these from a recipe I found on Epicurious.

BLACK AND WHITE COOKIES

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup. (I always just use the measuring cup.)

Beat butter and sugar in yet another bowl until pale and fluffy, then add egg and beat until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in batches at low speed, start and end with the dry mix. Make sure you scrape down the bowl occasionally, and mix until smooth. This batter is pretty thick, I’d imagine it’s similar to bread dough.

I didn’t measure the amount of batter I put into each cookie, but it was less than 1/8 a cup. You could make them even smaller. For large cookies, the original recipe mentioned 1/4 cup batter 2 inches apart on cookie sheets to yield about 8. As you can see from my picture, I managed a few more cookies, and this was only one of 3 batches. Again, you will probably have plenty more cookies if you make them smaller and flatter than I did.

Please learn from my mistake! Every time I have made these cookies, I put the dough on a sheet and leave it as a lump. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Why? The cookie cooks fine, but it leaves you with a severe dome that is a great hindrance when you try to glaze them and keep them evenly black and white on each half. Trust me, smooth it down, make it a little wider if you have to. Put less on the sheet, don’t squeeze so many into one batch like I do every time. Your alleviated stress and aggravation during decoration will be your reward. Why do I keep doing it? I think I just remember too late that it was a silly thing to do, you know… like while I’m putting the frosting on.

Moving on. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the tops are puffed (significantly less so if you don’t make them mounds from the beginning! heed my warning!) and cookies spring back when touched. Yes, they do in fact spring back. You want these cookies more on the pasty white side than on the golden cooked side in my opinion. The recipe says “pale golden.”

Guess who overbaked slightly? (This was before I figured out Mom’s oven.) Let them cool COMPLETELY before decorating.

BLACK AND WHITE ICINGS

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (do NOT add extra lemon, please measure, I didn’t this time and it bit me)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Stir together sugar, honey, lemon juice, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Only add water (tsp at a time) if it’s too thick to spread with a spoon. I would even recommend letting the icing sit for a minute and solidify before putting it on the cookie because it gets very drippy very fast when water is added. Sometimes I have to re-coat the “white” part of the cookie because it becomes more transparent as it drips dry. You know why else it drips? Because you made the cookies too puffy. Yes, I will harp on that until this entry is done.

Also, I recommend taste-testing the icing, or having someone do it for you, to make sure it’s not super lemony. Guess whose cookies were SUPER lemony, mine. How many times have I made these, and when I try to show off for the fam, mistakes abound. Though the lemon flavor might seem like a treat at first, it will get old, and once you add the chocolate powder it just tastes like lemon chocolate. I’m not being dramatic, nothing can cover that flavor. (Except, hopefully, making new frosting and re-coating all of the cookies a second time to at least try to mask the flavor if not eliminating it all together. Hypothetically speaking…)

Once all the white halves are coated, and set to dry for a little bit, you can start on the chocolate. Mix in the cocoa powder to the remainder of the icing. You will need to add water at this juncture, try a teaspoon at a time. You should have a thick, chocolatey, ganache-like coating. Again, you don’t want to thin it out too much or it won’t stay on the cookies, or at least on its own half. Note the seepage below…

Let the cookies set a bit longer, you could probably fridge them if you’re so inclined, and you’ll have a fantastic treat on your hands.

Also, you know what else is good? My mother enjoyed eating one of these, sans icing, with cream cheese and jelly at breakfast. These cookies are soft, and not too sweet, so they seem to work well as a biscuity-type treat.

However you choose to enhance their flavor, enjoy!

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