This weekend my boyfriend and I hosted a New York City trivia contest at our apartment. He wrote all the questions and I made Big Apple themed desserts. The first dessert that came to mind was black and white cookies. Pat loves these cookies, and they just look so New York. Until I moved to the city I’d never seen them, but here they are in every deli, bodega, and grocery store. While easy to find, store-bought black and whites are frequently terrible (stale and dense). This delicious recipe from America’s Test Kitchen couldn’t be better. I first made them last year and the result was a delicious tender cookie with a perfect, shiny, not-too-sweet frosting.
A few notes about these cookies. They aren’t difficult, but they are time consuming. You bake the cookies, let them cool, frost one half, and then frost the other. It’s definitely a project for a day off when you are interested in spending a few hours in the kitchen. Also the cookies taste best the day you make them. The next day they are still good, but I would not serve them two days after making them.
Black and White Cookie
Yield: 24 large cookies or 55 medium cookies
Since I was making these cookies for a party with several other desserts I chose to make smaller cookies. It is a lot more work than making the big cookies so if it’s your first time with the recipe I’d definitely recommend making the large cookies.
4 cups (16 ounces) cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract (If you don’t have lemon extract you can use lemon juice which is what I did. Do not substitute lemon flavor or lemon oil.)
1 cup whole milk (I used 2/3 cup 1% milk and 1/3 cup half-and-half)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate – melted
2-4 tsp. water
1. FOR THE COOKIES: Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. The cookbook recommends baking two cookie sheets at a time and rotating them halfway through baking. I never have good luck with this. I kept my oven rack in the middle and only baked one sheet at a time. It takes longer, but I think everything cooks much more evenly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until combined.
4. Scoop 1/4-cup (for large cookies) mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Use the back of the spoon or your finger dipped in water to smooth the tops of the cookies. Bake the cookies until the edges are just beginning to to turn light golden brown, about 15 minutes. The cookies are done when the tops spring back when pressed. These are a very pale cookie. Do not wait until the cookie is golden. They will be overcooked.
5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Repeat with the remaining dough using cooled, freshly lined baking sheets. Typically I reuse parchment paper for several batches of cookies. With these cookies it’s important to use new parchment for each batch.
6. FOR THE ICINGS: Bring the corn syrup and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Measure half of the icing into a separate bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate and 2 to 4 teaspoons of the water as needed until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.
7. Place 2 large wire racks over parchment paper for easy cleanup. Ice half of each cookie with chocolate icing. Tilt the cookie and run the spatula around the edge to scrape off excess icing. Once you’ve iced all of the cookies with chocolate icing the first batch should be set enough to ice the other half with the vanilla. The frosting will start to stiffen as it sets. Just pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds and it will be spreadable again.