Who wants a cookie? I know I do! Especially when they’re black and white cookies, a favorite treat in Jewish households across the country. They’re fun to make, they symbolize harmony and they taste great.
Some people call black and white cookies half-moons, others call them harlequins. Whatever you call them, they were first baked in New York over 100 years ago, and they’ve been filling cookie jars in Jewish households ever since. Including mine. My parents were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and both of them recall trips to the bakery for these little pieces of heaven.
When I was younger, we would pick up the cookies at our local grocery store, and my parents would reminisce about their childhood treats. Classic treats included halvah, rainbow cookies and Mister Softee Ice Cream. But the black and white always topped their list of favorites, and would become mine too.
As a kid, I would argue that there was a correct way to eat a black and white cookie, but that was before my palate matured. I used to eat the vanilla side first. It had a slight crunch that paired perfectly with the cakey bottom. Then, I savored the chocolate side, which was always soft and fudgy. Now, I take a big bite out of the center to get a burst of both flavors at the same time.
To make your own black and whites, follow the recipe below.
Hungry for more? Come back for seconds! I’m excited to introduce “Baking with Lisa,” a new feature in the print and online editions of Jewish Rhode Island that will explore the rich and tasty confections of the Jewish diaspora.
Have a baking question? Want me to make your family recipe? Feel free to email me at email@example.com. And check out my baking videos, at Jewishrhody.com/baking-with-lisa/
Black and White Cookies
For the cookie:
1 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (145g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
For the icing:
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
2 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites or water (plus more as needed)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (18g) cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer for about 2 minutes, or until the butter turns pale in color. Don’t skimp here! This is what makes the cookies airy, fluffy and cake-like.
Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Reduce to low speed and combine your dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream. Beat everything on low until combined. Batter should be thick.
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop dollops of dough on the prepared baking sheets. Leave enough room for the cookies to spread. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets before icing.
While the cookies cool, combine the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, egg whites, corn syrup and vanilla and whisk until smooth. You may add more egg whites or water as needed to thin the icing.
Flip the cookies over to ice the flat side. Using a piping bag or small spatula, cover half of the cookie with the prepared icing. Set aside and prepare your chocolate icing.
Add the cocoa powder to the remaining vanilla icing and add a few more teaspoons of egg whites as needed to thin the icing. Whisk until combined.
Use another piping bag or small spatula to cover the other half. Allow to set completely, about 12-24 hours, before enjoying.
NOTE: If you just can’t wait, the icing will be thinner but the black and whites will still be thoroughly enjoyable!
LISA MAYBRUCH is the manager, adult programs at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. Her occasional series, Baking with Lisa, will appear in Jewish Rhode Island and, beginning today, online at Jewishrhody.com/baking-with-lisa