Black and White Cookies

black and white cookies

Black and White Cookies are pure delicious nostalgia for me. I discovered them living in New York, where they would stare at me, boldly, from behind bakery windows. I took their “come hither” look seriously, and spend a decent portion of my seven years in the city searching out the perfect Black and White. Some were dry and terrible, others sickly sweet and fell apart within the first few bites. And rare few were simply delightful (and made all of that research worth the effort!)


At it’s core, the Black and White is just a little cake with two glazes. To me, it’s deliciousness lies in a tender, under-sweetened cookie, paired with a sweet chocolate and vanilla glaze. I like that you get to make choices as you eat the cookie – my preference is to alternate back-and-forth between eating the black and white sides. Plenty of other folks are exact opposites – eat one side entirely before moving on to the other. There’s probably conclusions to be drawn about personalities types based off of how we eat our Black and Whites, but we’ll save that analysis for another blog.


These cookies are showing up here at S&S  this month for a few reasons – in this wonderful season of baked goods, these cookies are slightly uncommon (well, at least here on the west coast) but generally well-loved. This makes them great to bring to cookie exchanges and holiday parties, or to give as gifts. The cake part is super easy to make, and you can be fussy (and pipe your frosting) or not (and use a knife or spatula to spread).


I’ve tried out a number of recipes over the years, and this one is by far the best. It’s got all that I’m looking for in a Black and White and plus, with crisp, buttery edges and a tender cake-like cookie holding up the rich chocolate and sweet vanilla glaze. I’ll be wrapping a few up in bags, sealing with a stickers similar to this one (because bakery-like packaging inevitably makes people think you purchased the treat), and sharing with a few folks I love.




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Black and White Cookies

  • Author: from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
  • Yield: 18 cookies 1x


for the cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

for the black and white frosting

  • 3 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 45 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder


make the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two making sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating briefly after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again, and mix on low speed for 10 seconds. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts (end with the flour mixture). Scrape down the bowl; add the vanilla and lemon zest, and mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  4. Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches around each cookie. (You’ll be able to fit about 6 cookies onto each sheet).
  5. Bake the cookies for about 17 minutes, rotating the sheets between the oven racks halfway through the baking time, until edges are golden brown and the tops spring back when gently touched. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.

make the black and white frosting

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, cream, and vanilla. If the mixture is too thick, add milk by the teaspoon until the desired consistency is reached. Pour half the frosting (about 3/4 cup) in to a separate bowl and add the cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon water. Stir to incorporate the cocoa powder. The chocolate frosting should be about the same consistency as the “white” frosting. If it is too thick, keep adding water by the teaspoon until you get the right balance.
  2. Use and offset spatula to spread white frosting on half of the flat side of each cookie. Let stand until almost set, about 20 minutes. Clean the spatula and use it to spread chocolate frosting over the unfrosted half of each cookie. (if the frosting thickens up while you are working, whisks it until it loosens.) Let the frosted cookies set completely, about 1 hour, before serving them.
    1. If you’re aiming for a more perfectly iced cookie – fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip with the vanilla frosting, draw carefully defined outlines on half the cookie, then them in. Let the vanilla dry thoroughly and follow with the chocolate.

Black and White Cookies are essentially little cakes, and they taste best eaten the day they are made. However, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.


I used a 1/3 cup ice cream scoop, and thought they came out a perfect size.

Some of the cookies I baked came out in a bit of a dome shape – to avoid this, wet your fingers with a bit of water and flatten out the dough (just a little bit) before baking.

Start checking the cookies for doneness around 14 minutes or so – mine were perfectly baked right around 15 minutes.

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