NYC Black and White Cookies

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DO THESE COOKIES MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A NEW YORKER?

Hopefully they do a little bit because WE'RE MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY!!!!! On March 16th (Match Day) we found out that Noah and I matched for our residencies in the big apple! It has been a dream of mine to live in New York ever since I spent my summer there after my first year of medical school doing research, and I can't believe it is actually happening. While we are still super intimidated by the thought of having to find an apartment in Manhattan on resident salaries, I feel confident that New York is where we were meant to take on this next step of doctorhood. Also there are just LIMITLESS bakeries that I am going to have to try. I can't tell you how many times a baked good pops up on my instagram feed that looks incredible, only to find out that it is 2500 miles away....not anymore! To celebrate I made these black and white cookies, which can be found in nearly every bakery, bagel shop, and bodega in the city. There is so much history behind these cookies, some of it real, some of it lore. Apparently the first shop to make them was Glaser's Bake Shop, which has been around since 1902 (!). They would make the cookies out of extra vanilla cake batter, hence the light and fluffy cakey consistency. They would then frost them with leftover chocolate and vanilla frosting. Essentially it was a way to put the leftovers to use. Other NYC bakeries soon followed suit, and in no time they became a NYC classic. I'll never forget the first one I had: It was 2008 and I was in NYC, visiting colleges with my dad when I was a junior in high school. I have no idea what part of town we were in, but I saw a big black and white in the window of a storefront and immediately knew I had to have one. 

There are many variations on this cookie; the original one from Glaser's uses buttercream frosting, but most varieties use a shiny powdered sugar glaze that hardens. This is my favorite, because I love the contrast in textures. Some say that you should add a squeeze of lemon juice to the white icing, but I never do. I also don't color it with vanilla because the vanilla turns in off-white and the traditional black and white has bright white icing. Also some places with frost the cookie on the rounded side, but this is not "black and white canon." However, I will say that my favorite black and whites in the city do this, and so I can't be too harsh on the concept. The linked spot was a couple blocks away from the hospital where I did an away rotation, and I bought a gigantic cookie from them every other day on my way home from the ED. If you like a big soft cookie and smooth, hard icing, definitely check them out, I haven't found a better one and I've tried a bunch! My variation below makes a soft cookie that I frost with a thick glaze on the flat side of the cookie. 

Cookie Ingredients (from Joy the Baker):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4th teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg

White Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder
  • water (between 2-5 tablespoons, until you get the right consistency)  

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder 
  • water (between 3-6 tablespoons, until you get the right consistency_ 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Start by taking your room temp butter and mixing on low speed with mixer. Add sugar and mix until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, followed by vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add 1 cup flower, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Add salt and baking soda, followed by the rest of the flour and mix. Add the last of the buttermilk and mix until well incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again. 

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Traditionally, the instructions for black and white cookie recipes say to scoop the batter with a spoon onto the baking. However, this yields less perfect cookies. To make them as round as possible I scoop the batter into a pastry bag with a wide tip. The cookies can be made small or big. I made some smaller ones (about 2-3 tablespoons of batter) and some bigger ones (4-5 tablespoons of batter). 

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Bake for 10-12 minutes. You will know they are done when the centers look firm and spring back when you touch them, just like a cake. Don't overbake! Even though the tops will be perfectly white still the bottoms should be a golden brown which is what you want. If you are unsure, err on the side of underbaking. 

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While your cookies are cooling make your glaze. In two small bowls combine corn syrup, powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cocoa for the chocolate. Mix well until you have a thick, gloopy ball (bottom left). Slowly add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well with a fork or whisk. The chocolate will require a bit more water than the vanilla. Keep adding water until your glaze is thin enough to drop from a fork, but the ripples blend back into the icing below within a couple seconds. 

Frost each cookie, starting with the white icing first. Some bake shops put white icing on the entire cookie, then add a half-moon of chocolate, but this way is more traditional. 

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Let the icing harden slightly before adding a swipe of chocolate on the other side. These don't have to be perfect, it is actually preferable in my opinion if you have a couple drops of icing overflowing on the edges! 

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Cookies can be eaten immediately or kept in an airtight container for a couple days. If you want to eat them much later, you can wait for the icing to harden all the way and then wrap them in seran wrap and freeze them for another time. Also, because I am and will always be an English lit major who just happened to end up in medical school (ok not really, it was very well thought out haha) I've started re-reading all my favorite NY books (Catcher in the Rye, This Is New York, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Great Gatsby...) and have been keeping a journal of all my favorite quotes--I'll have to post them later. And if you have a favorite NY story that I may not know please post in the comments! In the meantime here are some of my favorite pinterest quotes about NY. I especially love the Nora Ephron one...you better bet my first stop after we get settled will be to Levain Bakery! 

Buckwheat Pancakes with Cocoa Nib Pudding

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In terms of things that make me happy, my list would be spending time with my boyfriend, my family, my friends.......and then any time I am served breakfast in a mini cast iron skillet. Seriously though, how happy do you get when you're out to breakfast/brunch and you see the server coming towards you with a piping hot miniature skillet full of deliciousness?! If you're me, pretty darn happy. These pancakes are from the Sqirl cookbook Everything I Want to Eat which is just about the best title for a cookbook I've ever heard of. Whenever I go to Sqirl I am guilty of always ordering the same thing (Famed Ricotta Toast, if you're curious), even though I literally always look at the pancakes and say how good they look. I love Sqirl so much and my visits there are so special that I'm always afraid to stray from the norm, even though everything on the menu is superb. When I saw that the recipe for pancakes is included in the cookbook, I dogeared the page and started stalking Amazon, waiting for the 6-inch cast iron skillets to go on sale. The patience paid off this past week when I got 2 skillets for 12 bucks! These pancakes require a few specialized ingredients: cocoa nibs, corn flour, and buckwheat, but you can find these things in the bulk bins at most health food stores (I found it all at Sprouts). I made these for Noah and I as a weekend linner, and they were So. Good. I called my mom and told her that these might be in the top 3 of baked goods I have EVER MADE. And they are actually pretty healthy, too as far as pancakes are concerned! My qualm with most sweet breakfasts is that they are so heavy that you feel like crap for the rest of the day. The pancakes/waffles/French toast just sit in your gut like a wad of wet paper and you have to go home and sleep it off. These pancakes are different: they are fluffy and light due to the buttermilk, only slightly sweet due to brown sugar and vanilla. You can eat the whole dish and not feel like you're going to have a food baby. The pudding is smooth but not too rich, and it's actually made with almond milk! Jessica Koslow, owner of Sqirl, recommends eating them with whatever fruit is in season (I used blood oranges and raspberries but you could do pineapple, pears, bananas, apples, strawberries, persimmons--whatever you have in your fridge!). Also you totally don't need a cast iron skillet to make these--you can fry them in a pan the old fashioned way, but the skillet adds a little something extra, and now I will be tempted to make them all the time. 

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Cocoa Nib pudding (from sqirl)

  • (makes enough for 3 6-inch pancakes) 
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) plain almond milk
  • 12.5 g (1.5 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 25 g (1/8 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder 
  • 70 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 22 g (0.75 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 32 g (1/4 cup) cocoa nibs 

Buckwheat pancakes (adapted from sqirl) 

  • (makes 2 6-inch pancakes plus a little extra)
  • 45 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) buckwheat flour
  • 50 g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) corn flour (I used Bob's Red Mill brand) 
  • 27 g (1/8 cup) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 240 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2-3 cups of prepared fruit of your choice 
  • powdered sugar 

Instructions:

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Start by making your pudding. Combine 1/8 cup (30 ml) of the almond milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix with a fork to form a "slurry" (bottom left photo). Meanwhile, in a pot combine sugar, cocoa, salt. Whisk in remaining almond milk gradually. Turn on heat medium-low and heat chocolate mixture, stirring with spatula. Try to remove any clumps of cocoa by smashing them on the side of the pot. Once the mixture is bubbling at the edges, add your cornstarch slurry. Keep stirring with the heat on until mixture thickens and is very shiny, about 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn off heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a small cereal bowl and cover with plastic wrap in the fridge (don't add nibs yet!). 

For the pancakes, start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F. 

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In a small bowl combine buckwheat, corn flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine. In a separate bowl, combine egg and buttermilk. Whisk either by hand or with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and aerated. 

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Slowly add buttermilk/egg mixture to dry ingredients, whisking as you go. Make sure there are no lumps of dry ingredients. Melt butter and stir in (see below). 

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Your batter is now done. Take a scant tablespoon of butter and add it to cast iron skillet on low heat. When it has melted, swirl it in pan to get a good coating. Now add batter, filling it halfway up the side of the skillet. Repeat for other skillet. 

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Heat skillet filled with batter on medium heat on stove for 1 minute before transferring to oven. Set timer for 12 minutes. Alternatively, if you are not using skillets, make pancakes as you would normally on a griddle or in a large frying pan. 

While pancakes are cooking, prepare your fruit. I used blood oranges, sectioning them. I researched a couple ways to do this but I think the easiest way is to cut the bottom and top off of the orange and then cut the sides off, going around the outside until you have what will feel like a little bloody pulp of an orange. Cut into each segment to release it and place in a bowl, as shown below. 

At 12 minutes, take a peek at your pancakes. They are done when the middles feel springy. If they aren't done, return to oven for an additional minute and then check again. Repeat until fully cooked. Mine took about 16 minutes in total because my oven runs a little off. This recipe made 2 adult-sized pancakes with a little batter leftover, and so I used it to make a mini pancake in a mini cast iron skillet!  

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While pancakes cool, take your pudding out from the fridge and uncover. Add cocoa nibs and stir into pudding. Adding them right before serving keeps them crunchy and it's a nice added texture! 

To assemble your pancakes, spread pudding on half of the pancake. The pudding should be thick enough that it won't spread all over. It's almost like frosting a gigantic black and white cookie! Next to the pudding place your fruit going up the middle like a stripe. I alternated 2 raspberries and 2 segments of blood orange. 

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Next, add a dusting of powdered sugar next the the fruit. To try and get it as perfect as possible I used a mesh strainer and gently placed a paper towel on the chocolate/fruit side of the pancake (the height of the fruit will keep it from adhering to the pudding). 

To capture the entire assembly sequence, I took pictures of the mini skillet below! 

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Serve immediately! The pancake will still be warm which will melt the chocolate pudding a little. The mix of textures in this personalized dish are unreal--the smooth pudding, the hearty buckwheat, crunchy cocoa nibs....so good! I found that these pancakes required no extra butter or syrup, but you could always add that if you want, or if you are making them for a kiddo.

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I have truly never seen my boyfriend eat anything so fast (and we are the FASTEST eaters in our house!) so I think he liked them haha! And he is in general a very savory-things-only-for-breakfast type of person. He finished his AND the mini skillet AND the rest of mine that I was too full to eat!  

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Thanks for reading! I start in the ICU on Monday so I feel that may put a damper on my blogging streak, but I still have a bunch of recipes I want to make before Easter!