For Passover, the local Wegmans stocked up on Doc Brown's Root beer, macaroons, and Black and White Cookies from Wein's bakery. I grew up downstate, where -- I guess -- there are more Jewish people. So these "specialty items" that flooded Wegmans are just regular things I grew up eating -- especially Black and White cookies, which you'll find at almost every bakery and deli in the New York metropolitan area.
There are similar cookies up here ("Half moons") but they're not the same. Half moons seem to be flat circles of chocolate cookie-cake smeared with chocolate and vanilla cake frosting. A black and white cookie, however, has gently rounded and cakey vanilla base around 7-inches across, topped by swathes of glossy chocolate and vanilla icing. They are simple and fabulous.
I've wanted to make black and whites after scarfing the Wein's version a few weeks ago. And, since the latest Hay Hay, It's Donna Day* challenge is to create a cookie with two different flavors and two different colors, I knew the time had come. (Of course, I don't think this actually qualifies since it's not a Donna Day recipe. But when have such constraints ever stopped me from making cookies? )
Let me say this: baking these were more taxing than they should have been. Perhaps that's because it's been a long and frustrating week and my patience has worn thin (even the dog is giving me a wide berth). As I write this, I am sucking down the ultimate girly drink --a pina colada -- in an attempt to transport my psyche to a remote tropical beach. It hasn't worked yet, but there's still an entire pitcher left in the kitchen.
Back to the recipe: in the original, you're to drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. Doing this, however, doesn't yield the graceful domes of a true black and white cookie but misshapen lumps. To overcome that, once the batter was on the sheet, I swirled it in a circle with a rubber spatula to even the cookie's "footprint" out. While not perfect, this certainly yielded better results.
As for the icing ... well, making it was a pain in the [insert body part of your choosing]. The original recipe calls for melted bittersweet chocolate but when I added it to the confectioners' sugar and water, all I got was a gluey mess. I tried again and substituted cocoa powder, which was much more successful.
The final result is good, but the I don't think I nailed that traditional black and white cookie taste. The chocolate icing, however, is superior. Shane licked the bowl clean...literally.
Will I make these again? I have no idea. Ask me after I've finished my drink.
Black and White Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. lemon extract
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/4cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water, more or less as needed
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 375-degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon extract. In a separate bowl, combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (I placed about 6 on a standard size sheet)
Bake until edges begin to brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Cool completely.
Place 1 cup of confectioners' sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together cocoa and 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar.
Add vanilla to the all confectioners' sugar bowl, then mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until icing is thick but spreadable. With a brush, rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, coat half the cookie with vanilla frosting. Set on parchment paper until icing set up a bit.
While the vanilla icing is hardening, mix boiling water one tablespoon at a time into the cocoa mixture. Again, the icing should be thick yet spreadable. When ready, spread the "naked" half of each cookie with chocolate. Set on parchment paper until icing fully sets.
Yields approximately 16 cookies
*It took me a ridiculously long time to understand that play on words.
Is it wrong to drink a pina colada with a Mickey Mouse Straw? I don't care.