I’m in a New York state of mind.
I surprised my husband Steve with a quick getaway to New York City over the weekend. Very quick— we were there for less than 48 hours. We’ve both been there a few times before so we were able to skip most of the tourist sites (with the exception of the Statue of Liberty, as Steve had never seen it up close), and instead spend our time wandering the streets, simply enjoying being there.
One goal I had for the weekend was to visit as many New York bakeries as I could while we were there. I knew our time was limited and so I only picked out a small handful to see, but even that proved to be too optimistic. One can only see and eat so much in two days, so much was left unseen, uneaten.
Saturday afternoon in the east village we stopped at Momofuko Milk Bar. It was a tiny shop, not at all how I pictured it, and the cereal milk soft serve ice cream didn’t live up to my expectations. But I loved the compost cookie and could not stop eating the crack pie (perhaps that’s how it got its name?).
We had dinner that night at The Beagle, a restaurant that Steve found and wanted to try. It’s very small, both in size and menu offerings and specializes in it’s cocktail and food pairings. Everything we tried was out of this world. The chicken entree I ordered was literally the best chicken dish I have ever eaten, no joke.
Sunday morning we headed straight to City Bakery, only to find it closed even though their website indicates they are open 7 days a week (major bummer). But my disappointment was short lived after enjoying a sandwich from Pret a Manger, which has been a favorite place of mine since my summers in London. While wandering along the High Line Park, we stumbled upon La Newyorkina homemade paletas, or popsicles. As it was a particularly hot day, this was quite a welcome and refreshing find. Next our wanderings took us up to Central Park, stopping off at Bouchon Bakery for french macarons on our way. Oh my, they were scrumptious, much better than the ones I’ve attempted in my own kitchen. We sampled vanilla, pistachio, and raspberry yogurt and each one had a turn being my favorite.
We did some shopping on Fifth Avenue that afternoon, grabbed some dinner, and then, just like that, it was time to leave. Such a short trip, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the big city.
This morning I decided I wasn’t quite done with our trip and brought a little New York into our home with these black and white cookies, which I’ve heard referred to as the unofficial cookie of New York City. I’ve seen them around, even on our most recent trip, but had never actually tried one. I’ve always been curious about this uniquely beautiful cookie and thought I’d give them a try.
I borrowed the recipe from Baked Expeditions, the second cookbook by the two founders of Baked, an iconic bakery in Brooklyn, New York. I desperately wanted to visit, but venturing that far wasn’t in the cards during this trip. Nevertheless, it seemed fitting to use their recipe.
The cookies are more like little cakes, very light and flavored with vanilla. The chocolate and vanilla icings go on top (which is actually the bottom of the cookie, something else very unique to this dessert) like a thin glaze.
Each half of the cookie is different, thanks to the different flavors of the icing. I loved the simple vanilla flavor of the vanilla cookie with the vanilla icing, but found the chocolate icing with the vanilla cookie to be more complex and interesting. Perhaps there are some parallels that can be made to New York as a city? Who knows.
All I know is that not only do I heart New York City, but I also now heart black and white cookies.
For the cookies:
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the frosting:
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
4-5 tablespoons whole milk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces dark chocolate, choppes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk (ending with the flour mixture), scraping down the bowl as necessary.
Use a 1/4 cup scoop to drop the cookie dough on the prepared sheet pan, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. You should get 6 cookies on each sheet.
Bake until the edges are golden brown and tops bounce back when touched. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, cream, and vanilla together in a bowl. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk. Pour half of the frosting into a small bowl, this will be the vanilla frosting.
To make the chocolate frosting, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir until smooth. Whisk into the remaining half of frosting. Add water as needed to achieve the same consistency as the vanilla frosting.
To frost the cookies, turn them upside down so that the flat bottoms face up. Use a small offset spatula or knife to spread a small amount of vanilla frosting on half of each cookie. Let the cookies set for 10 minutes, then repeat with the chocolate frosting on the other half of each cookie. Let set for 1 hour before serving.
These cookies are best served the day they are made, but will store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.