I’ve lived in New York my whole life minus one year, and spent that one year dreaming about bagels. While charming in a million ways, Somerville and Cambridge, MA just don’t sell them. I don’t mean to criticize the area’s breakfast options; there’s no shortage of cozy coffee shops and bakeries. But I missed Absolute and H&H Midtown East more than is socially appropriate to admit. When traveling between New York and Boston I’d specifically carry a roomier bag so that I could bring back a fresh dozen leaving my clothes (and me) smelling like roasted garlic. Apologies to all the people who sat next to me on Bolt Bus. Well, maybe not since a lot of you smelled weird, too.
That bagel rant was really an excuse to talk about black and white cookies. I don’t think I ate one for nine consecutive months while in Boston and didn’t think twice about it. This sadly highlights my fixation on the bagel conundrum. Black and white cookies are so New Yorky and importantly: they are the only cookie to spread positive social messages. [1. See Seinfeld quote below]
A few years ago I tried making these and had no success. The icing tasted terrible (I don’t know how I messed up sugar and milk) and the cookie was a bit too lemony. This time I used a New York Times recipe and the results were much tastier. I should address one hiccup, not unique to this recipe: batter curdling. You know, when your batter looks… curdled? I am an impatient baker and never let my ingredients come to room temperature like you’re supposed to. Curdling happens and it looks gross and sad. Luckily there is an impatient person’s solution: just keep going. Add flour and your batter no longer appears unappetizing. I suppose I should learn to allow my ingredients to come to room temperature. I’ll stash that away as a New Year’s resolution.
1. Seinfeld Episode “The Dinner Party”:
Jerry: Uhm, see the key to eating a Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet still somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie — all our problems would be solved.
Recipe adapted from the New York Times on the occasion of Seinfeld’s final episode in 1998
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour [I didn’t have any cake flour and used only regular flour; this substitution worked fine]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Note: I halved this recipe and got 16 cookies. Each cookie was about 3 inches in diameter.
1. Beat together unsalted butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time. Add milk. When combined, add vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add flour a litte bit at a time. Batter will be smooth and sticky.
4. On parchment lined baking sheets, dollop batter. Each cookie should be about 3 inches across, and 2 inches from its cookie neighbor.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The edges should be just golden brown.
6. Make icing: Combine confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl. Make sure the consistency is spreadable and not too liquidy. This might require a bit of trial and error–keep adding sugar or milk until you get the consistency you like.
7. Melt chocolate chips. Add about 1/3 of the white frosting to the melted chocolate.
8. Spread white icing on half of each cookie. Let harden before spreading the other half with chocolate. You may have to wait about 20 minutes for the icing to harden. Keep your chocolate icing on the stove to prevent it from solidifying while you wait.
9. Look to the cookie.