Black and Whites – politically correct cookies :)

So after my little trip to NYC, I realized that I forgot to buy an authentic black and white cookie from a NY bakery. I've always wanted to try one and see how it differs from the black and whites that are sold up here in New England. These cookies are amazing, easily one of my favorites of all time. Not only do they bring up fond memories of high school (when I first fell in love with them), but they're also a lot of fun to eat because of the two very different frostings. Some people actually only like to eat half the cookie, either the black or the white side, but to me that's kind of blasphemous. I love alternating bites between the chocolate and vanilla sides, and I really like the lemony flavor of the cookie, it's very refreshing. The texture of the cookie itself is also very unique. It's crispy on the rim, and soft and cakey in the middle, kind of like a mini-cake. The shape is slightly domed at the underside of the cookie, and the flat side is the one that is frosted. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of these cookies, aside from the obvious dual-colored frosting, is the size of each cookie. The diameter is probably the length of my entire hand! Yet it's still easy to gobble up a whole cookie without thinking twice… it's just so good. For those of you that have never tried a black and white, you have got to try this recipe for yourself, they are simply amazing! :)

Black and White Cookies  (makes 8 large cookies) – recipe from Epicurious

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk (I substituted with 1/3 cup of milk + 1/3 tbsp white vinegar, letting it sit for 10 min)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

For the icing: (the portions I list for the icing is 1.5 the portion given in the original recipe, because you need more icing than the recipe calls for in order to frost all your cookies)
2 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tsp fresh lemon juice (you may want to reduce the lemon juice if you don't like a distinctive lemon taste in your icing)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp water, plus more as needed
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Also stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a separate bowl.

3. Using either an electric mixer or a fork, beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg to mixture, stir in well.

4. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in alternating portions, mixing well between each addition. Begin with and end with the flour mixture. Stir until the batter is smooth.

5. Grease baking sheets (I used foil-lined sheets, greased with butter), and drop batter 1/4 cup at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie (they will spread!). I used my finger to smooth out the cookies and make them nice and round. No need to flatten them to the desired size.

6. Bake at 350F until tops are puffed and golden, springing back to the touch. About 15-17 minutes. Remove with a spatula and cool on a metal rack for 15 minutes.

7. When cookies are about done cooling, prepare the icings. Stir together the confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and water in a small bowl until smooth. Separate out 1/2 of the icing and place in a different bowl. Add the cocoa powder to this half, and stir together, adding water as necessary to thin out the icing to its original consistency prior to splitting (add just 1/2 tsp at a time, it thins out pretty easily).

Note: in following these directions I realized that after splitting the icings in half and adding the cocoa, the chocolate half bulked up to have more volume than the vanilla half, so it was not really even. I suggest splitting it 2/3 vanilla and 1/3 chocolate, then when you add the cocoa to the chocolate half it will become more or less even. I ended up having a lot more chocolate icing than vanilla).

8. Finally, to ice the cookies, turn them over so that the flat side is facing up. Brush off any crumbs from the surface. For easy frosting, first drizzle a thin line of chocolate frosting down the middle. This will serve as a guide for you. Give it a minute or two to firm up while you admire your cookies :)

9. Start spreading the chocolate frosting on half of the cookie, whichever half you probably drizzled excess chocolate on while drawing that line. Gently, using the back of a spoon, push the frosting to meet the guide line, and then spread out to the rim of the cookie. Frost the chocolate half of all the cookies first.

10. Starting back up at the first cookie you frosted, now frost the other half with the vanilla icing, again gently pushing the icing up to meet the dividing line. By now the chocolate divider should have firmed up enough so that you will not get any smearing into the white icing. Be aware that your white icing may be too runny or translucent. You can adjust the consistency simply by adding more confectioner's sugar if it is thin or water if it is too thick. You can also try dissolving your sugar in milk to start with, if your icing is too translucent.

And voila, beautiful, striking NYC black and whites! They are divine when fresh, but even better the next day, when the icing has firmed up completely. I adore taking a bite into the thick crunchy layer of icing, contrasting with the soft cakey cookie underneath. And the complementing flavors of the two icings really draw out the personality of this unique cookie. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do :)

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