Black and White Cookies

If you have lived your whole life in one area, you may not have any idea that some of the foods you routinely eat and enjoy are strictly regional.  The rest of the country may not know and love these foods as you do.  When I moved from Boston to Chicago, it was a bit of a culture shock for me in more ways than one.  No ocean, no hills, and no black and white cookies were among the many things missing which I had always taken for granted.  I certainly realized that there wouldn’t be any ocean or hills—but no black and white cookies?  Heavens to Murgatroid!

There isn’t a bakery in Boston that doesn’t sell black and white cookies (also known as half moon cookies).  I had absolutely no idea they were an East coast thing until I got to the Midwest.  At some point, I figured that out and enjoyed making these cookies as a new treat for people.  I remember that I brought them in to work for a pot luck, and people were looking at them, saying they remembered these cookies from the well-known Seinfeld episode.

It’s been a while now, but black and white cookies have finally become known nationally.  These delicious, cake-like cookies with their trademark black and white icing are no longer an East Coast secret.  I suspect the Seinfeld episode may have had more to do with it than my baking these cookies and foisting them on Midwesterners!

Black and White Cookies

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Ingredients for Cookies

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sour milk

Directions for Cookies

For the sour milk: Put 1 tbl. of red wine vinegar in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  Fill to the 1-cup mark with milk.  Let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes to sour (will look curdled).  I have never made this with buttermilk, but I’m sure that would be a fine substitute for the sour milk if you prefer.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  (I don’t bother sifting, and the cookies come out just fine.) Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat.  Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk.  Mixture will resemble a thick cake batter rather than a cookie dough batter.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at 375o for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool.

Spread half of the top of each cookie with white icing; spread the other half with chocolate.  Makes about 30 cookies.

Fran’s Note: As a rule, I don’t care to use solid shortening.  This recipe is so old, and I am so used to the way the cookies taste, that I haven’t changed the Crisco to butter.

Ingredients for Icing

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tbl. light corn syrup, plus more as needed
  • 2 tbl. hot water, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I just microwave bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 2 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions for Icing:

In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla. Stir together until smooth.

Divide between two bowls.

Melt chocolate either in a microwave safe bowl or using a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth.

Scrape the melted chocolate along with the cocoa powder into one of the bowls. Add a little more hot water (up to 2 tablespoons) and up to 1 teaspoon more corn syrup to get a smooth shiny mixture.

Frost half of each cookie with chocolate icing and allow to set.  Then frost with vanilla icing.  Allow to set.  (Pop into the fridge for a quicker set.)

Cookies will keep, stored airtight, for two days.

I like to eat them right down the middle!

Source: Recipe for cookie cut out from the Boston Globe almost 40 years ago!  Recipe for icing from The Cookie Scoop blog

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