Black and White or Half-Moon Cookies

  • Serves: Makes about 20 large cookies
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 375
  • Views: 12167

Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2009 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com



Premium Member, lalena asked: "Having grown up in NY I am a big fan of NY deli-style large Black and White cookies but have found a wide variety of recipes. I'm hoping someone has a tried and tested delicious, old style Black & White recipe. THANKS!"

So, I invented a recipe for her!

There are hundreds of recipes for Black & White Cookies. Some had cake flour in them, some all egg whites, some had a mix of cake and all-purpose flour, and a vast proportion of ingredients, which I felt would not give me the right texture and flavor. In order to answer her question, I developed my own recipe because B & W cookies are slightly dense and without lemon flavoring, as some recipes had wrongly included it. I wanted this one to be authentic. Plus, I developed a fondant recipe for the B & W portion, which I felt was appropriate because some recipes called for buttercream frosting which I felt was not the right way to guild the lily, so to speak!

Not a cookie, but sometimes called a cookie, I believe that Black and Whites are made with a stiff cake batter, made with all-purpose flour and flavored with vanilla then, baked into a mound on a cookie sheet. The curved top becomes the bottom. The flat bottom becomes the top and gets slicked, harlequin style— half with chocolate, half with vanilla fondant. When I thought about the recipe, it's very old-fashioned and had to have been made from simple, everyday ingredients, which are not as costly and easily obtainable in their day. The intent was to make a hand-held cake with an easy to frost frosting, not something that someone labored over. I also looked into the history of when they were invented to back my findings, hence my recipe.

No one seems to know who invented the Black and White, or where it was first created. Some think they must have been invented at the beginning of the twentieth century by a baker looking for yet another way to use his standard yellow cake. They were clever. They caught on. They got copied all over town. Others think that the cookie is named after New York's most famous explorer, Henry Hudson, who sailed up the Hudson in 1609 on the Halve Maen ("Half Moon") in search of the Southwest Passage. Ordering a half moon cookie at a NY bakery often causes confusion, requiring you to clarify: "You know, one of those black and white cookies".
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