There’s No Place Like New York City: Black and White Cookies

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What comes to mind when you think of New York City? The Empire State Building? World-class shopping? Broadway? Bagels? While these are certainly representative, by now you know I’m going for the sweet stuff. For me, there’s nothing better about New York City than Black and White Cookies. 

If you’ve never been here and haven’t had the good fortune to experience one, just imagine a large, cakey vanilla cookie with a hint of lemon flavor topped off with equal amounts of vanilla and chocolate frosting. Perhaps, the most difficult part of eating a Black and White Cookie is choosing whether to bite into your favorite flavor or dive right down the middle for a taste of each!

While planning a New York-themed bridal shower for my youngest sister, Crista (“Lynnie” of Style, She Wrote.), I knew the favors had to be Black and White Cookies. Crista and her fiance, Michael, had their first date at the South Street Seaport and spent a lot of time in Manhattan as Michael studied at New York University, so the city is super special to the couple. 

Problem was, for as much as I love them (especially when I’m having a tough day at the office!), I’d never actually attempted to make Black and White Cookies before. But, TRB is not easily defeated, friends. In January, I began my quest for the perfect recipe, and have been busting to blog about it ever since! You see, I kept the favors a surprise, and was unable to speak of my adventures until now. Needless to say, I’m super excited that this marks my 100th post — coincidence?! 

Back to the Black and White Cookies…

I like to keep it real and, the truth is, this is not an easy cookie to get right. In the city, there are very good renditions — and there are really bad ones. I tried a few recipes before I arrived at what I considered to be a very “on point” version. And, what makes the quintessential Black and White Cookie, based on my experience, are two key ingredients: cake flour and buttermilk. To be authentic, the cookies need to be large, dense, soft and high, and the frosting should be not too thick, too thin or too sweet. 

In the end, I used a combination of two recipes: one found on, from which I drew upon the idea of incorporating buttermilk, and another found on, from which I adapted the cake flour / all-purpose mixture and base for the frosting.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with the results. Our bridal shower guests were equally impressed, and I have already received a few accolades from those who enjoyed the cookies. I hope you *will* try this one at home. 

Black and White Cookies:
All dressed up and ready to party!

Black and White Cookies
(Inspired by and
Yields 15 very large cookies

2 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup reduced fat buttermilk

6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup boiling hot water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

2. Prepare the cookies: In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. 

3. In another medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. 

4. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, follow by alternating half of the buttermilk, another third of the flour and remaining buttermilk, finishing with last third of flour. Mix until all flour is well incorporated, add vanilla and lemon extracts, but do not overmix. 

5. Using an ice cream scoop, drop large mounds of dough onto prepared cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart. (I fit 6 cookies on each of my cookie sheets). 

6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until tops spring back and bottoms are lightly golden brown. (You are looking for the cookies to remain white in color). Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting — at least 30 minutes to an hour. 

7. Prepare the icing: In a large bowl, mix powdered sugar with boiling water and vanilla. (If mixture becomes too thin, simply add more powdered sugar). Flip the cookies over, so that you are frosting the flat side. Using a spatula, carefully frost half of the cookie with vanilla frosting. 

8. Once the vanilla sides are completed, mix 4 tbsp. cocoa powder into the remaining vanilla frosting and stir to combine. (I had to make a new batch because I was frosting approximately 50 cookies. I took 6 more cups of powdered sugar and combined with hot water, vanilla and cocoa powder). Frost remaining cookie halves with chocolate frosting. Let set for at least an hour. Store in airtight containers lined with wax paper for up to 2 days. 

The bride-to-be, who is (sadly) allergic to
chocolate, received a  very “special”  favor.

Do you enjoy Black and White Cookies? Post a comment below! 

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