Black & White Cookies

Another traveling tradition I had while growing up was a yearly summer visit to New York City.  From age 6-15 my mom and I and a classmate and her mom took the train from New Haven, CT into the city every year to see a Broadway show and explore the city a little.

I have a lot of good memories from those trips, from the various New York locales we ate at, to getting my headband pulled down to my nose during a performance of Cats, to playing “guess which train seat I’m in” on the nearly empty night train back to CT.

But one of my fondest memories is of those enormous black and white cookies in Zaro’s Bakery in Grand Central Station.  Every time we passed its display cases on our way out to 42nd Street, I would catch a glimpse of those massive cookies, their cakey softness and perfectly even frosting calling out to me.

Of course when I make them at home, I make a more modest sized cookie, but my taste buds can hardly tell the difference.  I’m so glad I can make them at home, as New York is a lot farther away now, and I can make them anytime I want.  Still, if I do end up in New York City in the future, I’m sure I’ll end up buying a cookie anyway.  After all, tradition is tradition.

Black & White Cookies

Adapted from Ready for Dessert

Makes about 22 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons whole or low fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

grated zest of ½ lemon

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

For the Icings:

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 teaspoons plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons water, or more if needed

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease or line 2 baking sheets.

In a small bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, and salt.  In another small bowl, mix together the milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until completely smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk mixture, then stir in the remaining flour mixture and beat until the batter is smooth.

Drop 2 tablespoons in mounds spaced 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway, until the cookies are just set in the centers, about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on baking sheets.


To make the icings, in a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 cups powdered sugar with 2 teaspoons corn syrup, the lemon juice, the 1 teaspoon vanilla and water until smooth.

Transfer half of the mixture to a small bowl and whisk in the cocoa and remaining 2 teaspoons corn syrup to make the “black” icing. Add up to two teaspoons more water if needed, to make the icing spreadable; it should not be too thin, so begin by adding one teaspoon and add another teaspoon only if needed.  Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar into the white icing.  (I needed to add a bit more to get mine to the right consistency.)  The two icings should have the same consistency, thick, but spreadable.

With a small icing spatula or butter knife, spread white icing over half of the flat bottom side of each cookie.  Spread black icing over the other half.  Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.

Store cookies in an airtight container in a single layer to avoid marring the frosting.


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