before you read this recipe, familiarize yourself with the seinfeld episode that tells you to “LOOK TO THE COOKIE!” it’s one of my two favorite episodes of the whole series (topped only by the alternate side episode made famous by “these pretzels are makin’ me thirsty” and made me laugh even more with, “who put cookies in his mouth? you’re not supposed to do that.”) so there’s the back story to what made me feel like making black and white cookies - recently seeing this episode of seinfeld.
what makes it even more appropriate of a choice to post today is that i spent the day in manhattan yesterday and black and white cookies always remind me of new york bakeries and delis. in researching a basic recipe, i learned that the reason they’re so light and cakey is that cake is what they are born from!
at the end of the day, bakers would take excess cake batter they had on hand and rather than tossing it, they’d add a little extra flour to give it some hold and behold: a light, cakey cookie.
i must admit, though, while i got rave reviews (especially to the request for an all white cookie by my coworker scott), when my friend matt asked me, “okay what makes these cookies healthy?” i didn’t have too much to say. i feel like black and white cookies are very near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts and they’re quite judgmental and particular about the classic cookie. since it was my first time making them, i didn’t want to tweak too much, for fear of disastrous results.
i will tell you this: the actual cookies themselves (not the frosting) aren’t too high in sugar and the frosting is just made of sugar and water - no fat. i hope that’s some consolation. in fact, i just calculated out the nutrition information and for a really decent-sized cookie (this recipe made about 30), it’s 120 calories and 3 grams of fat. that’s not too bad. so don’t feel guilty, just make a batch, share with everyone at work and eat them while you’re watching seinfeld.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (not pictured - i’ll tell you why in a sec)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
once you’re done with the collecting, time to start doing!
first, prep your oven by heating it to 375 degrees. also, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
in a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and (room temperature) butter. mix with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. then, add the eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon extracts. mix that until it’s smooth and well-combined. then set it aside.
see that bowl in the background of the picture? that’s your dry ingredient bowl. whisk or sift together both types of flour, salt and baking powder. make sure it’s well mixed and then you’re going to dump that (in three or so batches) into the butter, sugar, etc bowl, mixing well in between each shift.
back to why the baking powder was not pictured. so here’s a habit i have… i don’t like to just print recipes off line when i’m working with them. i take a large piece of scrap paper and write everything out by hand. maybe it seems more authentic? i don’t know.
i bring my list to the grocery store with me, stash it in my planner until i get cooking and then take notes and scribble on it when i tweak ingredients and measurements. it usually gets covered in butter or batter and other messy things and then i toss it once i post my recipe online. it’s weird, it’s more work, but it works for me.
long story short, in my writing of ingredients, that got lost in transcription (get it? like translation…). luckily i have it readily available in my cupboard, so it was no crisis. it just didn’t make it to class pictures.
once you mix those together, the result should be a batterdough - not quite as runny as a cake batter, not as thick or tough as a cookie dough. catch my drift? great.
drop them onto your baking sheet and leave about two inches in between each dough ball. i’d say you want soup-spoon-sized mounds, for “normal” cookies, but black and white cookies tend to be HUGE, so you can also make them bigger if you like.
pop them in your 375 degree, preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. you want them to be cooked through but still pretty light. the darker the edges, the harder they’ll be to cover up with the icing.
as soon as they’re done, remove them from the pan so they stop cooking. they should slide right off without even needing a spatula, really! put them on a wire cooling rack to cool completely and once they’re cool enough, you can flip them over so the darker, flat side that was on the pan is facing up. this is actually the side you’ll be frosting! that’s why black and white cookies are so light and rounded on the unfrosted, bottom side.
make sure you’ve got wax paper or paper towels under the racks. not too important while they’re cooling, but once you get to icing, they’ll be drippy and that makes it far easier to clean up the mess.
while your cookies are cooling, you can get started on the very quick frosting.
put the confectioners’ sugar in a metal, heat safe bowl. you’re going to use this as the top of a double boiler later, so plan accordingly.
bring a little bit of water to a boil and then scoop out 1/3 cup and pour it over the sugar. whisk together until it’s smooth and seems like the consistency is “spreadable.”
with a butter knife or spatula (i used the former), take your white frosting and frost half the cookies. i wasn’t happy with the thickness and transparency of my frosting (picture on the left), so i let them dry and went on for round two. i was much happier with the result after that (picture on the right). you’ll be able to tell for yourself based on your frosting thickness and how it looks once you’re doing yours.
take all that’s left of your frosting and put it on top of a pot of simmering water to make a double boiler. add the chocolate chips and corn syrup and whisk until they’re melted and smooth. as you can see from the picture on the top right above, that chocolate addition does not make a black frosting. it makes a very light brown frosting. this is where the cocoa powder comes in! add that, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the color you’re looking for.
it’s totally fine to add the unsweetened cocoa, since the whole bowl is essentially sugar. trust me when i say it won’t be bitter at all. in fact, i loved the frosting and i’m not usually one for sweet frosting! it reminded me of the stuff that comes with dunkaroos and i’m a sucker for second grade throwbacks.
since this frosting is thicker than the plain white, i thought it was much easier to use. go ahead and frost the naked half of the cookies and let them dry for a considerable amount of time before you package them up.
one thing to note before i show you the finished product. i think it’s only fitting that i made these cookies because i feel like i’ve been on a back to basics/black and white kick lately. (see: my favorite black and white scarf (so LA, courtesy of mandy), my new black and white iphone cover (thanks, sephora!) and my life-changing black and white vera bradley planner (you can witness my love for it here).
if you don’t believe me, look at the evidence:
it just made sense to bake some cookies that went well with all of my favorite, can’t-live-without accessories :)
click here for a printable version of the recipe!