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Bake, Ice, Devour: Black & White Cookies

August 25, 2011

by Emily

I am totally embracing this whole New York thing. I’ve got my Google Maps App on high alert, transformed my footwear to only include comfy shoes, learned to block out the world with some ear buds, and successfully pushed my schedule forward by a minimum of two hours. Heck, I’ve even endured a natural disaster since my move! Nevermind that I didn’t even notice that wee earthquake yesterday…

Speaking of this great city, what is more New York than a Black & White Cookie?  If you’ve ever been into a neighborhood bakery or deli in the city, you’ve surely noticed these sophisticated little treats. These iconic cookies are, in fact, more like a flat cupcake with a soft, more sponge-like texture than a more traditional crisp cookie. A flat cupcake, huh? We all know what that means, right? Ok, maybe just the fat kids got it right, so I’ll go ahead and share the good news with the rest of you: nearly a 1 to 1 cookie-to-icing ratio. Bingo. New Yorkers are genius.

Black & White Cookies

For the cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk (I made my own following Smitten Kitchen’s directions)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low-speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

For the icings
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 (I used less) cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 

While the cookies are chilling, stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.
Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half.
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