This past weekend, I was reuniting with a great friend that I haven’t seen for almost a year. For such a grand and joyous occasion, I knew I couldn’t show up empty-handed! My mind churned and churned… what to make for such a special friend, whom I see so rarely?
Cookies and bars are basically my go-to gifts, as they can be easily made, easily packaged, and easily loved. But I try to do something to personalize what I make for each person…and in this case, I tried to tie in my friend’s past residence in NYC by making these Black and White Cookies from Carole Walter’s “Great Cookies” (which is a great cookie book, by the way!). I have come across these cookies enough times in cookie books to know that they are ubiquitous in NYC. Although I didn’t really know whether or not my friend had actually eaten or enjoyed these cookies, I took a gamble and hoped that its strong presence in the city meant she would be able to relate to these cookies somehow.
Fortunately for me, it turned out that these cookies did play a role in her past life in NY! Supposedly her 4th grade teacher would reward her class with Black and White Cookies according to how many books they read…so eventually she just ended up reading books for the cookies, and considers the cookies a part of her childhood. Success!
Having never tried an actual Black and White Cookie, I’m not sure how these would compare to the real thing… but they are cakey and soft, and I must agree with Carole Walter in her description, “When I first made them, I thought ‘Much ado about nothing!’ But I was wrong. I found myself cutting off little bites from this big cookie…a slice of chocolate here, a piece of vanilla there…until, before I knew it, the cookie was gone. There is something about this cookie that is so alluring. See for yourself!”
If you ever want to bake something for a friend who is no longer in NYC, try these out… even if it wasn’t necessarily their favorite cookie while living there, it’d probably bring back great memories for them!
(Technical notes: I made my cookies a bit smaller than Walter calls for, and made a mixture of her glaze with Martha Stewart’s glaze since Martha has you split the batch into two and whisk cocoa powder in, whereas Walter calls for using melted chocolates. My laziness got the best of me! But the chocolate glaze still tasted great, so no worries)
Black and White Cookies
Carole Walter’s “Great Cookies”
Makes 16-18 4-inch cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1 3/4 cups strained cake flour, spooned in and leveled
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon oil
3/4 cup mlk
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Strain together 3 times the flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color. Add the sugar in three additions and mix for about 2-3 minutes to thoroughly incorporate. Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed, and mix in vanilla and lemon oil.
3. Using a rubber spatula, blend in flour mixture, adding it alternately with the milk, four parts flour to three parts milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
4. Using a #16 ice cream scoop, drop six mounds of dough onto each cookie sheet, spacing them 3-4 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 20-22 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies from the oven and let rest on pan for 5 minutes before moving to cool on wire racks. While cookies are cooling, make the glazes.
5. Starting with vanilla glaze, use a small offset spatula to outline the dividing point in the center where the two flavors on each cookie will meet. Fill in the remaining area with the vanilla glaze. After vanilla glaze has set, apply chocolate glaze on unglazed half, again starting at the dividing point and applying it as smoothly as you can. Let glaze set before storing cookies in an airtight container, layered between strips of wax paper, for up to 2 weeks.
Vanilla and Chocolate Glazes
Martha Stewart’s “Cookies”
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water, plus more if needed
1 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Whisk confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and water in a small bowl until smooth. Add more water, if needed, to achieve a consistency slightly thicker than honey. Transfer half the icing to a small bowl and stir in the cocoa powder. Thin with water if needed.