Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black and White Cookie

A true New York specialty, I definitely miss having a good black and white cookie after grabbing a sandwich at the deli. There is a lot of history and culture surrounding the black and white. It is by definition a cookie that is actually cake. Supposedly created when bakers had leftover batter, they just added a little extra flour to thicken it up so it wouldn't spread too far on the pan. Proof that some of the most amazing things are based on very simple ideas.

There is also quite a ritual that goes into eating the cookie. Which side do you like better? Do you eat the black or white first? Do you take a little bit of each? I was reminded of a Seinfeld episode that touched on the process of eating the cookie and it's ability to defy racial barriers. Regardless of which side you like or eat first, the cookie is overall quite delightful. Spongy like cake, with a high cake to frosting ratio, it is the perfect sweet end to any meal.

After an experiment and advice described by smittenkitchen's entry (thanks), I ended up making my cookie dough by varying my basic off-white cake recipe. Yielding only about a dozen large cookies, this recipe can be doubled, halved, made into a bunch of small cookies, made into bigger cookies (not recommended, as the cookies are actually quite fragile and will easily break in half if made too big). They are also best served fresh. Deli's tend to wrap them in plastic wrap to ward off the elements, but I doubt if you brought these cookies to a party there would be any concern for what to do with leftovers. They also don't do so well with stacking because the glaze is tacky and although "hardened" - still pretty moist. putting layers of wax paper in between the cookies seemed to work well enough to keep them separate for transport though.

Ok, so recipe goes:

  • 6 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3/4 C flour*
  • 3/4 C cake flour*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/8 C milk
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375˚. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Sift together dry ingredients. I usually don't sift, but this time I thought it would be important to keep the cookies light and incorporate both flours evenly. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Mix milk and extracts together. Beginning with dry ingredients, gently mix into butter, alternating with milk, ending with dry, being careful not to over-mix.

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. *I found that they were hard to make into perfect circles, and might have been easier to work with if I added a little more flour, probably up to 1/2 cup more at most. Depending on the size you make the cookies, bake for 10-15 minutes, but check to make sure you just lightly brown the edges.

As they're cooling, start the glazes.
My proportions are not generous, but the recipe can be easily added to even as you're working, so if you need more you can make it as you go.

White Glaze:
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C boiling water

Slowly mix water into sugar, making sure not to put too much water in. You might not need all of it. I like the consistency to be easy to spread and not very drippy.
So, these cookies are actually frosted on their bottom side, covering up the baking brown. Using a frosting or butter knife, spread the white glaze on one half of each cookie. The glaze develops a skin quickly, so make sure to move quickly so your unused frosting doesn't get too crystallized.
You will have about half the frosting left. Place that over a pot of boiling water to make a double boiler and then, add to glaze base:

Chocolate Glaze:
  • 1.5 oz dark or unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbs cocoa (optional, but I think it makes the "black" side look richer and darker than without)

Whisk together over the heat until chocolate has melted. This glaze is even more sensitive to thickening and crystallizing while you're working with it, so be sure to have more boiling water handy to thin it out as you work. Spread chocolate along other half of cookie.

Let them set up for a while before diving in, but then enjoy! I was told by a kind lady in my office that these were better than some she's had at Deli's in both New York and LA. My only defense was that I knew mine were very fresh, and that the deli's might not have been as much. Of course I'd love to believe that mine were actually better, but in the interest of keeping the peace, I will "look to the cookie."

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