Sunday, January 17, 2010

New York Black and Whites

A couple of years ago, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I baked Chocolate Chip Cookies. My husband commented that I should have made the Black & White as a nod to the show Seinfeld. What a great idea. So last year I did just that. I baked the New York Black & Whites and they were so delicious that we've made it a family tradition.

This cookie appears simple enough but it's actually quite an involved cookie to bake. Unless you have skads of time on your hands, I suggest making this cookie in two stages: one day bake the cookie, the next day frost. Having never eaten a Black & White I was under the impression that it was simply a sugar cookie drizzled in vanilla and chocolate icing. Not so. The cookie is rather tasty all on its own and has a surprisingly lemony taste {at least the recipe I used has a lemony taste: The All American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett}. The icing can be a little tricky too so trust me when I say you need to carve out a little extra time to whip up these gems. You'll notice in the picture that the cookies look a little sloppy and that's because I did a sloppy job icing them. I was rushed as it was getting late and so I threw on the icing haphazardly forgetting about thinning out the chocolate side and opting instead for a thicker frosting texture. The end result is well worth the time spent -- just don't rush as I have done.
My husband was right on when he suggested I make this cookie and I'm glad I did. Check out the Seinfeld episode that inspired this MLK holiday tradition. {You'll find the complete recipe below the video clip}.

New York Black and Whites

3 cups flour
scant 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tspn baking soda
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup {1 stick, plus 2 2/3 tbsps} unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup white vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 tspns light corn syrup
scant 3/4 tspn lemon extract
1/3 sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray or use nonstick baking pads.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the sugar, butter, and shortening until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, corn syrup, and lemon extract and beat until evenly incorporated. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evening incorporated. On low speed, beat in the sour cream. Beat or stir in the remaining flour mixture, just until well blended and smooth. Let the dough stand to firm up for about 5 minutes.

Using a scant 1/4 cup measure of dough {I used slightly less as this cookie is huge. I decided after last year, to make it smaller for the girls}, shape into balls with lightly greased hands {this is very important}. Place on baking sheets, spacing about 3 1/2 inches apart. Using your hands, press and pat the balls to about 3 1/4 inches in diameter {or smaller if you prefer}.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges and the tops just spring back when lightly pressed in the centers. Cool on wire rack.

Quick Vanilla and Chocolate Icing

1/4 cup light corn syrup
5 cups powdered sugar
3/4 tspn vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweeted chocolate, chopped

In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water and the corn syrup just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla until completely smooth. Place chocolate in a small, deep bowl. Pour 2/3 cup of the hot vanilla icing over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is partically melted. Pour another 1/2 cup of the vanilla icing over the chocolate. Stirring constantly, thin the chocolate icing to a fluid but not runny consistency by adding 3 to 4 teaspoons of hot water, a little at a time. {this is when I got lazy}. Stir until choclate melts completely and the water is thoroughly incorporated.

Set the wire racks with the cookies over wax paper to catch drips. Using a small, wide-bladed spatula or off set spatula, immediately ice half of each cookie with the chocolate icing.

If necessary, adjust the consistency of the vanilla icing by adding powdered sugar or hot water until fluid but not runny. Ice the other half of the cookies. Let cookies stand until the icing sets, at least 2 hours and preferably 4 hours.

Store cookies in a single later or layered between wax paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

{Oh and I hope what happened to Jerry Seinfeld doesn't happen to you. I think he just ate a bad cookie.}


  1. The NY Black & White cookie is my Brooklyn born Mother's favorite cookie in the world. Every year for her birthday I usually buy her a tin of them from Dean & DeLuca...this year I am going to use your recipe and see how it goes. As her birthday is Jan. 30th this blog post is quite timely. Thanks Maya!

  2. Cheryl, this has definitely become one of my favorite cookies too. If ever I'm in NY I will definitely try the real deal.

  3. I like that Seinfeld episode. They were there for the chocolate babka, but got stuck with the cinnamon -- an inferior babka.