Black and White Cookies

I think the first black and white cookie I ever ate was from Starbuck’s, and although I’m sure most people, especially those from the Northeast, would gasp and shake their head in disgust because I haven’t had the pleasure of trying a genuine black and white from the local corner bakery, I’m still a huge fan of the Starbuck’s version. It’s really more cake than it is cookie, which I think is the best part. And I always, I mean always, eat the cookie right down the middle so I can have a little bit of the white and black frosting in each bite.

One of my dear friends had her big bachelorette party on Saturday night, and I volunteered to bring dessert. I was originally going to make a cake, but the logistics of that were sort of off, so at a friend’s suggestion, I switched to cookies. But what type of cookie to make? I’m not a huge cookie fan, and I wanted to do something a little special, so I started brainstorming. I’ve always loved those little bra and panty creations that you can make with half of a heart-shaped cookie and colored frosting to decorate…but, I know my weaknesses, and decorating a baked good of any kind is just something I’m not very good at. As I’m sure you’ll see from the pictures below, I’m not even very accomplished at frosting half of a cookie with a single color! So, I apologize in advance for the somewhat childish photos shown below of my final product. And I also apologize to you if you decide to actually make this recipe. I wasn’t even going to post this on the blog, but all the ladies at the party loved them, so I was sort of obligated to put it up. Why wouldn’t I want to share this recipe, you may ask…well, it’s a big old pain in the butt. My back was literally in pain from hunching over the counter for nearly an hour frosting these cookies. And you need tons of space to spread them all out, which we honestly just don’t have at home. But, these cookies are delicious, I promise! The cookie/cake by itself (pre-frosting) is extremely lemony, and the flavor profile reminds me of those petite French Madeleines you can buy at most coffee shops that are just perfect little golden pockets of deliciousness. I can’t say that these cookies are quite as light and airy as a traditional Madeleine, but it’s extremely easy to eat this version, and you may have a hard time eating just one.
Ingredient List
1 ¾ cups (448 grams) granulated white sugar     [1344 calories]
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature     [1600 calories]
4 large eggs     [280 calories]
1 ½ cups 2% milk     [165 calories]
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
2 ½ cups cake flour      [1165 calories]
(I couldn’t find this at the store, but I did some research and found that you can make your own cake flour with all-purpose flour and cornstarch as follows:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Whisk together = 2 ½ cups cake flour)
2 ½ cups (308 grams) all-purpose flour     [1100 calories]
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups (508 grams) confectioner’s sugar     [1920 calories]
2 cups water, divided
3 ounces bitter or unsweetened chocolate     [420 calories]

Recipe
Makes 30 medium-size cookies
Calories per serving: 265 per cookie (for 30)

Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray large baking sheets with Pam for Baking or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the softened butter with the sugar using an electric mixer on medium-low speed for 2 minutes, or until smooth.

Add one egg, mix on medium-low speed until incorporated with butter/sugar mixture, then repeat with remaining eggs, one at a time.

Once all of the eggs have been mixed, add the milk, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, and then mix all ingredients on medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl intermittently.

In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine with a large whisk. Add about ¼ of the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, using a large wooden spoon to carefully mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Repeat three more times until all of the dry and wet ingredients are combined, yielding a smooth mixture.

Use a large soup spoon to transfer heaping amounts of batter to greased/parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing about 2 inches between each cookie.

* These “cookies” don’t expand much during cooking. If you need to utilize more space on your baking sheet, you can probably put the batter closer together than 2 inches. *

Bake cookies for 8 minutes. Rotate racks (upper to lower, 180 degree rotation), then bake for another 8 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown.

* You don’t want the cookies to brown all over, or they’ll be extremely hard and crunchy. You literally just want to see a brown rim around the edge of the cookie, and then you can take them out. *

Transfer cookies with a metal spatula from baking sheets to cooling racks; allow cookies to cool completely. Prepare a large work surface with parchment paper. When cookies have fully cooled, transfer from racks to parchment paper.

Heat 2 cups of water in a small saucepan until boiling. Add confectioner’s sugar to a medium-sized heatproof bowl, then add about ¼ cup of the boiling water to the sugar. Using a large spoon, mix the sugar and water together until a thick icing begins to form. Be very careful when adding the water, as this frosting can very easily become much too thin to spread over the baked cookies. If this happens, you can feel free to add more confectioner’s sugar to thicken the frosting, but the end result will be noticeably sweeter (not sure I believe that can be a problem!). Leave the rest of the water on the stove, but turn down the heat to low so the boiling action ceases.

Using a small spatula or butter knife, spread the white frosting on one half of each cookie. This is tough, and yes, it does take a lot of time! You will need to intermittently give your frosting a good stir while you’re frosting the cookies, as it will slowly begin to harden again as it cools and becomes very difficult to spread.

Once all of the cookies have been half-frosted, turn the heat on the stove back up to high until the water is boiling again. Place the heatproof bowl with the remainder of the white frosting (you should have about ¼ of what you started with left) over the boiling water, and then add the bittersweet chocolate. Use a large spoon to briskly stir the chocolate into the white frosting as it melts. If your final black frosting is too thick, add some of the boiling water to the mixture, maybe 1-2 tablespoons, to loosen it up. Again, be careful that you don’t add too much water.

Frost the other half of your baked cookies with the spatula/butter knife. As with the white frosting, the black frosting will harden quickly and become very grainy. I recommend stirring the black frosting vigorously every time you’ve frosted about 3 or 4 cookies to achieve that shiny smooth look, or if it’s gotten much too thick for your tastes, add a teaspoon or so of hot water.

Allow the frosting to set completely, about 15 minutes. Store cookies in an airtight container; they still tasted good to us on day 3!

Recipe – Black and White Cookies – PDF Version

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This recipe was adapted from Deb Perelman’s version over at Smitten Kitchen. She adapted her version from Zabar’s, a gourmet bakery, that shared their classic recipe with the New York Times. Feel free to check out either version if you feel so inclined
Black and White Cookies
or
Look to the Cookie.

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5 thoughts on “Black and White Cookies

  1. I made them this evening and they took some time but my kids loved them, so it was worth it! I was happy to bring one of my favourite New York treats to this very, very cold Canadian house. Thanks again!

    • Wow, we’re so excited you tried them out! Did you have any trouble with the icing portion…? I found that keeping the icing at the right consistency/temperature for even smoothing on top of the cookies was sort of problematic.

      • I found the chocolate icing kept hardening too fast so I would put it in the microwave for 15 seconds to loosen it up (I used the microwave to melt the chocolate instead of a double boiler) and it loosened up enough to do about three cookies and then back into the microwave it went. It seemed to melt it long enough but still hardened when it dried which was good!

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