Black and White Cookies

Black and white cookies are SO New York, but when you’ve lived here all your life, you don’t even know that people from outside this city can’t walk down any street and buy these delicious mini-cakes. People from all over the country talk about loving these cookies and stocking up when they’re here, but me, I hardly ever buy them from the store. They’re never as good as they should be, sometimes too sweet, sometimes too hard, and other times just gross (as with a lot of packaged sweets). So I took on the task of making them myself, and boy, I’m glad I did!

I found this recipe on epicurious (it’s from the February 2002 issue of Gourmet). There were two black and white cookie recipes, but since one mentioned miniature cookies, I immediately went with the other – icing just eight of these cookies took a while, imagine doing three dozen!

I only changed a few things from this recipe. Being my first time making the cookies, I didn’t want to take any chances. The first thing I did was put about a teaspoon of lemon zest in the dough, just for that classic black-and-white cookie flavor. I split the icing into two bowls and to one added lemon juice and zest, and the other cocoa powder. And you’ll need about 1/3 of the icing for the chocolate, not a half like the recipe states.

I got yummy airy cookies that my friends said really tasted like black and white cookies – that’s the best compliment I could get!

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (don’t forget to shake it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Ingredients for icing:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (either bought or make it yourself by spinning sugar in your food processor)
  • A few tablespoons of water
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup  unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

3. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a separate bowl or measuring cup.

4. Beat eggs and sugar together (I used my KitchenAid) until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined.

5. Mix in flour and buttermilk mixture alternately on low speed. Begin and end with the flour (flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour). Mix until just combined.

6. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes until puffy and golden.

7. Let cool on baking rack.

8. While the cookies are cooling, make the icing:

9. Stir together powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl until smooth.

10. Transfer about 1/3 of the icing into a separate bowl and combine that with the cocoa. Add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the icing is of desired consistency.

11. To the original icing, add vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice at a time, until the icing is of desired consistency.