It’s all in black and white…

IMG_1040BSMbanner_baked-150Hi everyone!  Miss me?  After a few weeks’ hiatus, I’m back!  The play went exceptionally well, and I bid a fond – and teary-eyed – adieu to it this weekend as we closed.  Thank you to all who came to see it.

In my time away from blogging, I’ve still been baking… I’ve FINALLY mastered the chocolate chip cookie (yes!) and for Easter, tackled Baked’s amazing Lemon Drop Cake.  I know – blogs should really be forthcoming on these milestones.  I will do my best to see what I can write up!

Black and Whites surround a line of Highway to Heaven Cupcakes

This week I had the pleasure of hosting our final cast party (yes, as is often the case with theatre folk, there is more than one cast party).  While I left it to the rest of the cast and crew to provide the savory treats, yours truly – of course – provided the sweets.  I was anxious to try the (Portland dessert cart) Sugar Cube’s recipe for “Highway to Heaven” cupcakes – tremendously decadent dark chocolate cupcakes injected with salted caramel, soaked with coffee syrup, dipped in chocolate ganache, and finally – the finishing touch – stabbed with shards of salty Ruffles potato chips and drizzled with a last flourish of salted caramel.  They were *amazeballs*.  More on those later, however… perhaps in a separate post, for they are truly worthy of discussion.  For a little bit of contrast, I was thankful to see that Baked Sunday Mornings had chosen the ubiquitous NYC cookie, the Black and White Cookie, for this week’s assignment.  They were a pleasing complement to the rich cupcakes – and surprisingly, VERY simple to whip up last minute.  Even icing them was a breeze.

IMG_1029The Black and White Cookie is definitely a NYC-origin cookie, through and through, but I like to think of it as a New York state cookie, as a whole.  When I was a kid, my mother never made these cookies, but I remember always seeing them in bakeries – and what an amazing treat it was to eat one.  I would savor each and every bite and try to make it last as long as I could (usually unsuccessfully).  The chocolate and white icings on top were thick and sugary, and the cookie beneath cakey and pillowy soft.  I always broke the cookie in half at the icing ‘seam’ and ate one side at a time, though now, as an adult, I like to take nibbles of both sides at the same time!  What makes a Black and White Cookie truly a Black and White Cookie in the New York sense isn’t – surprisingly – the stark icing design on top.  It is one key ingredient, which I will divulge below.  Leave this ingredient out, and it’s just not a true Black and White.  It’s essential.  Can’t argue with me on this one!

IMG_1034The batter for these cookies contains your standard butter, sugar, a couple eggs plus one egg yolk, vanilla, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt – plus buttermilk to keep the cookies tender – and comes together fairly easily and quickly.  It is a slightly thick batter that reminded me, in consistency, of the batter for the cakey, plump sugar cookies my grandmother always made for Christmas.  Similar sugar cookie recipes may contain a pinch of nutmeg for a little dash of extra, unique flavor.  Black and White Cookies contain, instead – and here is the essential ingredient – a tablespoon of lemon zest.  Now… you may be thinking: “lemon?”  In a cookie that has half chocolate icing on it?  What—??!! Trust me.  The lemon zest lifts and brightens the flavor in what could otherwise be a somewhat dense cookie, and complements the icing perfectly.  Leave the lemon out, you aren’t making an authentic Black and White Cookie, in my humble opinion!

The cookies baked up beautifully in the oven – rising up like splendid, lemon-perfumed, puffy cakes.  While making smaller cookies for a crowd is always fun, by all means do not shy away from using your largest scoop for these; they’re a real treat in a larger size (great for parties, picnics, and the like).  The icing can be whisked together in a bowl very quickly while the cookies bake – no need to bust out the mixer again.  After letting the cookies cool for a short bit, you can start right in with icing them.  Careful application of the icing with an offset spatula does the trick here, though you could use a decorating bag to apply the icing if you want to go for a cleaner, polished look.  I did not divvy up my two separate icings at the start as suggested in the recipe; rather, I first frosted the white halves, then when I was done, I added my cocoa and water for the chocolate halves (the water is added to thin the frosting; the cocoa will thicken it up considerably).  The only downside to this is that I had a significantly larger amount of chocolate icing over white, and the chocolate halves of my cookies was significantly thicker as a result when I tried to used it all up.  (However, when is having more chocolate a problem, really…?)  The next time I make these – and oh yes, there will be a next time – I plan on doing it the same way again, but frosting the white halves a touch thicker, knowing I will have plenty of frosting for the remaining chocolate half.  At the present time, I saved the extra chocolate icing I had and hope to make another batch of cookies soon to use it up.  At the rate these have been eaten, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue!

With this Black and White Cookie recipe, Baked has truly provided us with another wonderful, nostalgic gem.IMG_1030  I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly these came together – they’re not as fussy as you might think at first glance.  Sinking my teeth into one of these, I was almost transported back to being a kid who absolutely loved these fun cookies – and apparently, still does.  If you’re a native New Yorker, you will immediately remember and key into your memories of this cookie at first bite, believe me.

Make your own B&Ws by following this link to the Baked Sunday Mornings page:

Black and White Cookies

…and as always, please check out the blogs of my fellow bakers to see how they fared with this treat!  (BSM bakers – I’ve missed participating with you all, but have really enjoyed reading all of your posts in the meantime!)  I will (maybe) see you next week!  While baking and writing this blog is always fun, I confess that the break was really quite nice… I promise not to leave my fans hanging for too long, however!

Next week:  Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake



9 thoughts on “It’s all in black and white…

  1. What a smart idea to frost the vanilla side first and then add the cocoa to the rest of the frosting!! Maybe I will have to try these cookies again…..but I am for sure making those cupcakes…they do indeed look heavenly! Great job!

  2. I didn’t know that the lemon zest was the key ingredient here! Glad we were authentic! Your cookies look great and I can’t wait to see what you thought of the Lemon Drop Cake.

  3. Of course you were missed! But yeah, a break sure is nice. And congrats on a successful play and cast party!

    Such pretty, pretty cookies. I love this recipe.

  4. I love that your dad commented on your post! Your cookies look just perfect!

    I’m glad your play went well & that you’re back with us! I missed 2 weeks because we just got home from a Danube River cruise! I took over 1,300 photos, but promise to share some soon.

    Is this purple background new? I really like it.

  5. Welcome back kind sir, I find it lovely and silly we both returned the same week. ;) Love the cookies, and I too wished the vanilla icing side on mine was thicker. I did not care for that chocolate frosting at all really! Maybe I will leave it out next time and call them White Cookies LOL. Glad you’re back! :)

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