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!