black and white cookies

Black and white cookies are the kind of New York City deli classic that I love recreating at home. If you’re not from around here, you might not have ever seen or tasted one, but that doesn’t mean you’re missing a whole lot. Nearly every one I have tried since setting foot in NYC in 2000 has rather disappointed. Because the cookie is really a cake, they get stale quite quickly, but this doesn’t convince deli and bodega owners to yank their plastic shrink-wrapped versions before they’re sold. Your best bet? Make them at home and wow all of the Brooklyn natives in the audience.

cake batter for cookies

Back in the day, black and white cookies were actually made by bakeries from their leftover cake batters, with just a little extra flour mixed in so the cookie didn’t spread all over the place. Sometimes called Amerikaner Cookies, they’re also occasionally referred to as “half-moons” Upstate and in New England. However, with a chocolate cake base, not the traditional vanilla/lemon one, they’re not the same thing, not to split hairs or anything.


These days they have something of a cult following. I even ran across a blog entirely dedicated to tracking them down. But mostly, they were put back on the map by the famous Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine are trying to track down the last chocolate babka in the city and he muses that black and white live so harmoniously on top of the classic cookie, perhaps people should “look to the cookie” to solve all of our problems. [Later in the episode he has indigestion and says he’s “got David Duke and Farrakhan going at it down there.”]


Old New Yorkers will tell you that you can learn a lot about someone by the way they eat a black and white cookie. Do you eat the light or dark side first? Do you nibble from both and meet in the delicious middle? Do you lick the frosting off and sometimes forget about the cookie that’s left?

Me, I go right down the middle, but then again, I’ve never liked to choose.


smitten kitchen on the the martha stewart showThe Martha Show, 9/17/08: Andy Warhol once said that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. Well, Smitten Kitchen got 15 seconds yesterday, and they were on the Martha Stewart Show, in an episode about blogging. What fun I had! Martha asked some questions and put up a screen shot of the current most popular recipe on this site, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. I promise to plug in the video link as soon as it is up online. [And there it is!]

Other highlights of the day were meeting Mr. Matt Armendariz of baking his now-even-more-famous alfajores cookies with Martha. He was a total charmer, and as much fun to meet in person as you would expect. I also got to chat with the adorable Meg Frost from (OMG! PONIES!!1!) the whole show, which made it even better. I never got to ask Martha what I wanted to–namely, her favorite and least favorite things to cook–but there’s always next time, right?

After the show, Lisa and I tagged along with Matt as he went up to the Everyday Food Test Kitchen, which is seriously the most heavenly place. We had samples of [bleep] and [bleep] and also some amazing [bleep] that will be featured in upcoming issues, and are therefore top secret priority information, and hung out with the magazine’s really fun editors. I came out completely inspired to cook, as you can see above.

CookThink Interview: Hop on over to if you’d like to learn what my favorite food-related word is and my biggest kitchen fear, in an interview with me that they’ve published today.

Black and White Cookies
Adapted from a bunch of places, but mostly Zabar’s

Traditional black and white cookies are BIG and LOUD, not unlike the New Yorkers that made them famous. Preferring everything on the daintier side, I’ve made them very small before, but this time went for a nice medium size.

Yield: About 2 dozen very large cookies, 60 medium (I used a scoop 1 3/4 inches in diameter that yielded 3-inch cookies) or so many cookies that you might lose your mind frosting them if you go tinier. I’m just saying.

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup water
3 ounces very bitter or unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

2. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter. Mix by machine or hand until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then milk and vanilla and lemon extracts, and mix until smooth. Scrape down bowl.

3. In medium bowl, combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until mixed. Add dry mixture to the wet in batches, stirring well after each addition. Using a soup spoon, place heaping spoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until edges begin to brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.

4. Boil a cup or so of water in a small pot. Place confectioners’ sugar in large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Gradually stir in enough boiling water to the sugar to make a thick, spreadable mixture. Err on the side of caution because a too-thin frosting is hard to undo. Leave remaining boiling water on the stove.

5. Spread frosting on half of the flat side of each cookie. Once all cookie halves have been frosted, place the bowl of the remaining frosting over the hot water and bring it back to a simmer (creating a double-boiler). Stir in the bitter or unsweetened chocolate until melted, as well as the light corn syrup. At this point, depending on the chocolate you used and your preferences, you might find the chocolate color to be a little lighter than the “black” of a black-and-white cookie. If so, I find that a tablespoon or so of cocoa mixed in darkens the color nicely.

6. Ice the remaining half of the cookies with the chocolate frosting. I find that the chocolate–especially with cocoa in it–is especially prone to getting too dry, so don’t worry about whisking in an extra teaspoon of that hot water from time to smooth it back into a shiny frosting.

7. Let the frosting set. Store in an airtight container. These cookies keep for a few days, but I think they’re best on the first or second. Because of the cake nature of the bases, they can get stale quickly. However, this is really a non-issue as I have yet to make a batch that didn’t get polished off in no time.

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304 comments on black and white cookies

  1. k.

    I LOVE Amerikaners (didn’t know they were called “black & white cookies” I’ve only had them in Germany bakeries) – and those look amazing!! After I buy more eggs I’m going to have to try making them.

  2. Mona

    OMG you are such a DOLL! How fun to be on the MS show!!!

    And I can’t wait to try these cookies….having never *gasp!* been to NYC myself, I would love to share in these wonderful treats, and get a little taste of the big city.

  3. Mona

    Oh, also, I get this error when I try to go to the interview link above:

    Proxy Error
    The proxy server received an invalid response from an upstream server.
    The proxy server could not handle the request GET / if you’d like to learn what my favorite food-related word is and my biggest kitchen fear, in <a href=.

    Reason: Error reading from remote server

  4. Thank you for posting the interview link! I missed the first few minutes of the show and was bummed that I didn’t get to see you. It was great to see you as a person instead of hands attached to utensils. :) You seem just as lovely and entertaining as your blog.

  5. Oh, YUM. I always eat mine right down the middle, too… I like chocolate more than vanilla, but the vanilla icing solidifies a little bit more than the chocolate and I like that texture better. So down the middle it is! I feel bad for my poor parents who not only had to cut the big cookies perfectly in half for me and my sister, but they had to cut them perfectly in half along a line perfectly perpendicular to the black-white divide. (Because otherwise there would be whining. Lots of whining.)

    Now I really want a b&w cookie. Maybe this weekend I’ll make a batch.

    1. Wondering, can the frosting be piped? Maybe not needed? But I know I’ll be irritated if my halves are not equal 😩. I live in NY (came from MI) so black and whites were new to me. So popular here near Rochester.

  6. erin

    deb you’re so cute and sweet.. the interview was awesome! I never baked before I stumbled across your blog! I’m still trying to find that 8″ cake pan for the chocolate peanut butter cake-it looks sooo good!

  7. deb

    Thanks everyone!

    Erin — I totally used 9-inch circles. I have two of those, and only one 8-inch round. It still comes out–as you can see in the pic–plenty tall. Now you can make it!

  8. Andrea

    From an Upstater that grew up with Half-Moons– I have to take -slight- issue with the notion that a chocolate cake base is not “the real thing.” It’s a CLEAR case of improvement on the original (ok, maybe only for chocolate fiends). :) In any case, Deb, if you were making the (improved) chocolate base, would you just add cocoa powder (maybe a little coffee) to the base in place of the lemon extract? Have made them before with less than tantalizing results…

  9. Luke

    Hah. I recently did these for a party and made about a fijillion 1″ diameter cookies. That had to be frosted. Twice. Ugh. I was messing around with frosting for two days. But, in one bite you don’t have the existential “which side to start” with question, so I guess that’s something. Also, the frosting recipe I used had a little butter in it, which was great as I could just nuke it when it got crusty and carry on with frosting. And frosting. And frosting.

  10. Joy

    A friend of mine just sent me your link b/c of my own Half-Moon adventure last week that I wrote about in my blog! Too funny – they were on everyone’s minds I guess! By the way – I eat mine right down the middle too.

  11. britta

    Deb — I can’t access the YouTube link at work (they blocked it) but you are SO cute in the picture. I’m jealous that you got to be on the Martha Stewart Show! I have never been a huge fan of the black-and-white cookie but I’m going to try making it at home.

  12. deb

    Thanks everyone for saying such nice things! I, uh, did not fret over my appearance one bit before the show. Not me!

    David — Hee. It was more of a contest of who could slack longer before posting them. In a way, you won. ;)

    Kate — Yes, I used that last time. I, for some reason, was totally offended by the idea of lemon extract. I hadn’t realized that you can buy good-quality, pure stuff that’s not in any way artificial.

  13. These look so pretty! I’ve never had a black and white cookie before, but I want to try them.

    PS I made your Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake the other day and just updated my blog with it. I was so incredibly amazing! I can’t say enough good things about it :)

  14. Deece

    I’m a long- time lurker, but I have to tell you how ADORABLE you were on Martha. I wish she would have had you come up for a demo. Next time. Teach Martha how to poach an egg, Deb-style.

    You were the best part of the show and your site has given me many “keeper” recipes.
    Thanks, Deb!
    P.S.- don’t use Lindt white chocolate truffle bars for the salted oatmeal cookies. Tastes fine, looks BAAA—AAAD. Melty. My 82 YO Mom calls them “prairie cookies”.

  15. i love black and whites and yours look amazing! i eat the vanilla first and save the chocolate for last, priorities here! and CONGRATS on the martha! you have the hugest smile and look so excited! i’m sure it must have been an amazing day. and OMG, to meet matt and perez, frikkin awesome!

  16. Renee

    So, my first taste was a “half moon” from Utica probably at age 5. And to this day (25 yrs later) I’m still stuck on the chocolate ones. Living in the Hudson Valley of NY, I mostly only run into vanillas, which always disappoint. I’ll have to try your recipe, though and perhaps I’ll convert. :)

    1. E.D.

      Half moons are superior. There is a vanilla cake base version of the half moon and that’s also better. I use the Hemstrought’s recipe, subbing butter for the margarine in the cookie (and using a little less milk).

  17. When my friend and I were in NYC last month, she was on a never ending quest for the perfect B/W cookie, explaining the whole cake vs. cookie thing to me. I think the best one she found might have been in New Jersey.

  18. deb

    Btw, just to add some “color” to the black and white story, the bakery where I worked in high school used to make these cookies with different color frosted sides for big sports games. For example (just a random example you know), if the Giants played the Superbowl, they’d have blue or red and white cookies. It was actually pretty tacky, and sorely lacking in chocolate, imho.

  19. Emilie

    I am so excited to see this recipe — I’ve been wanting to make B/W cookies for ages but have never found a recipe that looked like what I had in mind. I know this one will be IT! (BTW, I made your homemade Oreos for the first time recently—someone mentioned the recipe at a Cook’s Illustrated bulletin board—and were they ever a HUGE HIT. I’ve made them 3 times since then.) Thanks Deb!

  20. Oh, Deb. That was really cool to see you on Martha… congrats on your 15 seconds.
    I was waiting and waiting and waiting for you to make your black and whites. I ended up researching online to find a good recipe. I wish I had your recipe, that looks great! Unfortunately, my in-laws were here 3 weeks ago and that’s what the cookies were for. I’ll try yours next time.

  21. I felt so famous one day when I saw that you were on Martha’s website and listed as a favorite blog by one (probably more) of the editors. I had been reading SK for awhile at that point, so I really felt like I found you before they did. I know that’s in my imagination, but it’s so cool to see so many people enjoy you, your words, your photos, and of course your food. YOU, my dear, are an inspiration. Now I’m going to go watch some Seinfeld…

  22. francesca

    these have always been one of my favorites. growing up in boston, we called them half-moons, but i’ve never had one with a chocolate base. that seems irreverent!

    congratulations on your 15, and counting…

  23. Pegster

    Deb, stop posting such DELICIOUS looking recipes, I’m supposed to be on a diet! (Well ok don’t stop, but you’re not helping me with my willpower! *grin*) Now I’m just going to have to make these this weekend! :):) Oh well, my friends and husband will appreciate them!

  24. Andrea

    Congrats on the Martha Show Deb! Wonderful. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake is the birthday cake I’ve requested this year. I was also given the 8″ pan excuse – no more! I’m looking forward to that cake!

  25. Eva

    Why “not the nicest association”? Being German (and not racist), I find that a little offensive – especially considering that it seems you haven’t read the whole of that blog post you linked to.
    Cookies look delicious though.

  26. christine

    Can you suggest a good way to ship these? I am always trying to come up with East Coast themed gifts for my west coast friends. I don’t mind shipping them overnight but how would I package them?

  27. Susan

    I love to try recipes with cult followings. I learn that most are usually something that one has had to have grown up eating in order to earn an honor that is lost on ‘outsiders.’ I’m orig. from the DC area and have never knowingly had a Baltimore Berger cookie, which is similar (well, kinda sorta) and famous in MD. I spent time in Utica, NY and never tried a Half Moon and I’ve never been to NYC to know the B&W even had a home. So..except for the lemon cookie paired with chocolate..(I just don’t get citrus with chocolate) I want to try these with an extra boost of vanilla. Will that qualify as a try?

  28. Deb,

    You were lovely on Martha! I actually watched the video because I knew Rachel of Coconut & Lime was there, and there you were. And how funny, I had no clue how popular this blog is. It’s funny how we all have our favourite blogs and never think that other people might like them too. Should have guessed from the number of comments, perhaps. Anyway, how exciting!

  29. cs

    I’m soooo happy for you that you got to be on Martha. It would be my dream come true. Your recognition is well deserved. Thank you for blogging for us. You always inspire!!!

    You’re the best!!

  30. Congrats, Deb, you look all calm and composed, and you are right there talking to Martha, nerves of steel, woman!
    Of course, we are going to need some behind the scenes pics soon.

  31. Marisa

    So, I cannot believe that you posted this recipe on the eve of my moving back to Dallas, TX from Manhattan. My husband, 2-year-old son, and I have been living here for the past nine months. When we first arrived, we stayed for a couple of weeks at East 52nd, only a few blocks from Tal Bagels. The very first black and white cookie I ever ate came from Tal. Not only was it the first, it was also the very best I’ve come across in NYC. I was addicted. I ate one and sometimes two a day. They are some of the best baked goods I’ve ever eaten — and I’ve eaten a lot. Cakey, yet not too cakey, fondanty, but not too chewy, subtle hints of lemon? Vanilla?

    We moved to Battery Park City (a veritable culinary wasteland) shortly thereafter, and I searched desperately for a replacement B&W. Let me tell you, there are none to be had. Tal ruined me! (Zabar’s are close, but have a slightly processed taste to me.) So, I’ve made the long trek numerous times back to Tal to get the “good ones,” and, in desperation, I even baked a batch at home. I used the recipe from, with some minor tweaking. (I contemplated the Martha one, but wasn’t so sure.) Still not as good as Tal, but better than any of the dry, tasteless impostors around here. Anyway, to make this long story short, I plan to try your recipe. Hopefully, when I move back to Dallas next week, I’ll get a little taste of NYC to go along with my Tex-Mex.

  32. I have always wondered about the origin of the B&W Cookies. There is a place in Houston that makes them but I guess I’ll just have to test this recipe out and compare. It will be a hard job, eating cookies and seeing if Houston gets it right.

    The taste test will have to wait a few weeks but I’ll make sure it gets done when I get home.

  33. I will have to make these. – SOON – I LOVE B&W’s and agree that there are far too many disappointing ones out there.

    The German Amerikaner cookie now makes sense. I never gave much thought as to why my local german bakery calls their B&W’s Ameriakaners, I just ate them. And this also ties in to the to-die-for cake cookies (with confectioner’s frosting only) that my german grandmother makes. I’m very far from home and I think making these will bring me a lot closer to home.

  34. I have been in NYC for three years and I have never eaten this cookie, despite my longing. They look good, but you’re right, the bodegas never reassure me. But, I have to make them and try them. I think this is the best way. Congrats on your Martha appearance.

  35. Jessica

    It was great seeing you on Martha yesterday. I made sure to set my DVR in case I wasn’t around to see it. I want to be just like you when I grown up (haha Im 28) haha. I visited your website on a daily basis and love your photographs. I have a link bookmarked to photographs that I plan to purchase from you for my newly painted yellow kitchen.
    Happy Cooking!

  36. You looked great on Martha.

    Also, best news ever: I got an ice cream maker! ($15 from the classified section) I’ve got lots of ideas. Dulce de leche would be great, but seriously, one pound of dulce? If I get a pound of the stuff it might have to go to different uses.

  37. Celeste

    I lived in Syracuse for a while and always thought the half-moons were an Italian tradition. I have NEVER heard the part about them being a way to use up cake batter! I feel like you’ve handed me the Rosetta Stone!!!

    I never really loved these because they are big, soft, dry and bland. I like little, snappy cookies. However this post brings back a lot of memories of how beloved these were to the locals I knew. The local Wegmans grocery bakery had them sometimes but it seemed like that was more prevalent in the fall and around the holidays.

  38. Oh yes! I love black and white cookies! There’s a local bagel shop near me that only makes them on Saturdays and if you don’t get there early enough you don’t get one. These will be made! And eaten! And enjoyed!

  39. growing up in boston, the half-moon cookies my grandfather bought us always had a vanilla cake base. i’ve never even heard of a chocolate based one until now. it’s true that nyc delis stock tons of dry, stale versions that pale in comparison – yuck. i look forward to trying your recipe, they look divine!

  40. Hi Deb,
    you said that non-NYers might have never heard of these cookies,…
    Well actually they are quite commen here in Germany and, yes, they are called “Amerikaner” (meaning “Americans citizen” in German). Rather then selling them in a half black and white color you can buy either a black Amerikaner or a white one. :-) I love them and I can’t wait to try the recipe you’ve posted!

  41. Congratulations on your stardom!! It was a great episode and so exciting to see you up there!!!

    Also: I love cookies. I love all cookies. I now have a new cookie that I will soon be loving ;)

  42. Bri

    Congrats Deb! I must admit, I fast forwarded through all the talking to your interview segment. The suspense was killing me! :) As has been said 80 times, you looked fabulous. Glad you had a wonderful time!

  43. Yay! You posted the recipe! My whole family has an obsession with black and white cookies because of that Seinfeld episode, and I’m always bringing them back home with me or shipping them to people because you can’t find them anywhere but here. Next time I get a request, I’ll just point them to your site. And I had such a BLAST running around town with you on Wednesday–we definitely need more days like that in our lives!

  44. Congrats on your TV spot!

    I <3 black and white cookies. I grew up in D.C., but both sets of grandparents were in NYC. I’ve seen some B&W’s in the cafes in Columbus, OH (where I now live), but nothing beats homemade. I amazed my family with your oreo recipe. I think this one’s next up.

  45. Johanna

    I double them being quite common here in Germany – either black or white or half and half like you made them. Funny, I always thought they were rather boring (not even disappointing, as I never had this one “perfect” encounter the others couldn’t reach up to) and therefore never thought of recreating them at home. Or even thought of them being anything ANYone would actually make at home. But seeing yours, I might just as well give them a try!

  46. Nan

    Congratulations! I saw the show – and was surprised and happy to see you! I felt like I was watching an old friend! And you looked fab – were you nervous? If so, it didn’t show! I would have been tongue-tied a million times over! Your blog deserves all the attention it gets – it’s phenomenal and clever and fun and always motivating for me. Nan

  47. Anisah

    It was great to see you on Martha! I was born and raised in New York, but haven’t really had much of this cookie; looks yummy, so i’m gonna give this a shot this wknd! That Seinfeld episode was so funny too…

  48. I can’t wait to try these! Thank you! But if you’re ever in the mood for just buying them, go to Greenberg’s bakery on the UES . . . they’re heavenly! We included them in our out of town bags at our wedding, along with bagels from H&H for a “best of NYC” theme. We got more compliments on the OOT bags than on the wedding cake!! =)

  49. I’m so excited to try this recipe for the B&W cookie! They are definitely one of my favorites. And that Seinfeld episode was (is) one of my favorites. You looked fabulous on Martha!

  50. Molly

    My (displaced New Yorker) husband noticed this post over my shoulder yesterday evening and begged me to make these for him. Mine came out a little chewy and flat (not as cake-like as I would have hoped), but I’m a novice baker and probably overmixed to get everything together.

  51. Joanne

    Congratulations on the Martha show! I know one reason you had so many visitors for the peanut butter cake, other than of course it looks delicious. You were posted on and had a lot of Diggs.

  52. Lovely cookies! As a New Yorker — specifically a Brooklynite — I take black-and-whites very seriously, and I’m with you on loving the middle part of the icing.

    Fantastic job on Martha!!!! Congrats!!!

  53. Beautiful cookies! That’s twice in the last week that I’ve run across black and whites after a lifetime of not knowing about them. Yours have such a glorious sheen to the frosting.

  54. Wow, black and white cookies! I grew up in New York on the south shore of Long Island. Every week my German mother would go to the butcher and then to the bakery. Black and whites were a regular part of my life (as were hard rolls and a good bakery rye bread.)

    Black and whites were sold in the supermarket in New Hampshire where I lived for 25 years and I bought them for my kids but they just weren’t the same.

    Now I live in South Florida and I haven’t seen them or any variation of them here at all so I’m glad you posted this recipe. Think I’ll make them and send some to my adult children in Vermont!

  55. I grew up in S. Florida( Ft. Lauderdale) and we ate these a lot. They’re my most favorite cookie. I was born in NY though as were the majority of folks who lived in the area where I grew up. I’m coming to NYC at the end of October. If you had to name your favorite place to buy a FRESH black and white, where would it be?

  56. Emma

    Just brought the peanut butter chocolate cake to a church function…twenty other desserts to compete with and it was polished off in five minutes. BEAUTIFUL. thank you for posting that recipe!

  57. Sue

    I was so happy to see you on Martha because otherwise I would never have known about your blog. Also I love black and whites!! You are right,they always taste best at your favorite NYC deli. Now if you could only could find a recipe for Bergers cookies,my favorite Baltimore cookie

  58. My husband turned to me on Friday and said. “Jeni, we really need some delicious black and white cookies.” Thanks for getting that telepathic message, Deb.

  59. I made these tonight, and they were dead easy till I got to the chocolate frosting part. Why did my chocolate frosting harden up unattractively and look like melted chocolate when yours looks all shiny and pretty? What did I do wrong? I had to use dark corn syrup instead of light because I was out of light…could that have done it? Doesn’t seem like it would.

  60. deb

    Hi Bethany — My chocolate did seize up a bit as I worked with it, so I kept whisking in extra tablespoons of the hot water (I mentioned this briefly in step 6), which kept it smooth. If you added any cocoa for darkness, it is then especially prone to getting hard. Also, keep in mind that I only take pictures of the prettiest ones, of course. The three I ended up icing with the uneven, grittier frosting were sent immediately to … Testing Services. Ahem.

    1. Lindsay Marcario

      I used two different kinds of powdered sugar (first was from Whole Foods/365 so I assumed it tasted different) but the vanilla mixed w the little bit of boiling water was just not good! The chocolate turned out great but why did my vanilla side taste so tasteless? Would you substitute milk and add some butter? I know it’s not meant to be a buttercream (I’m from NY and also worked at a bakery). Help!

  61. Nancy

    Deb, this black and white cookie recipe was something I had been wanting to try baking. My husband and I made them this weekend! My question is the butter/sugar/milk/eggs/extracts really didn’t “blend” very well at all. In fact, I threw out a batch thinking that my eggs or milk had spoiled. The second time around (after purchasing new eggs and milk) came out the same. But once I added the flours/salt/baking powder, it was all good. Is there a reason why that happens in the beginning?
    Another question, my cookies did not rise at all. They were very flat (but still very tasty) and I’m wondering if I would have added more baking powder if they would have risen more?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Great blog and congrats on your MS appearance. I’m so jealous!

  62. Katie

    Nancy, I had the same thing happen, and I felt silly after realizing why. You bring the butter to room temp, and then when you add the cold milk and eggs it goes back to being cold and chunky butter, so if you bring all the wet ingredients to room temp before combining you should be in good shape.

    Oddly enough, Martha has a recipe for these in this October’s Living. She puts butter in the frosting, and while I was making yours I was wondering if I should put some in, but I try to not mess with recipes before I’ve tried them once. So, Deb, I was wondering if you’ve done the butter thing before, and how it compares.

  63. Deb, thanks for answering! I was looking at the recipe on my laptop on the other side of the kitchen so I wasn’t probably reading it as closely as I would have if I’d had an open cookbook in front of me. I’ll try adding more hot water next time if I have that problem. The good news is, even though the frosting is gritty it still tastes good. :-)

  64. Morten Båtbukt

    Hi there.

    I’ve been reading your site for a bit now, ever since I went on hunt for the best macarons recipes. Yours was helpful, by the way, but I eventually had to figure out how to fix my 7-tries-problem myself as no one else seemed to have the same problem.

    Anyhow, I just wanted to say I love this site and consider it the best recipe oriented food blog out there. It’s well written, entertaining even when I just read the post without really caring for the actual recipe and the actual recipes are thought through and useful. Love it!

  65. Samantha

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I grew up in upstate NY and lived in NJ for 2 years up until July, when I moved to Miami. I just realized a couple of weeks ago that they do not sell/make/bake black and white cookies here, which almost caused my world to collapse. I will be making these cookies ASAP, and by the way, they look a lot better than a lot of the bakery versions I’ve seen (and tasted) before. Although Stop ‘n Shop in NJ did sell a pretty decent cookie.

  66. Sara

    Love this recipe! I was hoping you could recommend some substitutions for me – I want to make these cookies without dairy for my brother (horrible milk allergy) but I am not sure what to replace the milk with, because sometimes soy milk doesn’t cook well. Do you have ideas for the butter, milk, and chocolate? Thanks!

  67. Congratulations on Martha’s show! You are pretty. Loved the updo!
    I have made these blacka nd white cookies before. Another recipe obviously and I thought they were kind of yuck. They were harder than I imagined. So your post for me was pretty enlightening. Thank you.

  68. FJK

    I make these whenever I’m homesick for NY!
    Oddly enough, when I’m back in NY, the ones I find are never as good as the ones in my memory, but I haven’t trekked up to Zabar’s to try this.
    I usually use Molly O’Neill’s recipe in her New York cookbook.

  69. Elizabeth

    I made these yesterday (after being kid-on-Christmas-excited for a week), and they are deeevine — and half gone. :) My only issue was that the cookies didn’t spread as flatly as I think they’re supposed to, so they were a little on the difficult-to-ice side since the bottoms were slightly domed. Could that be from accidentally tossing in too much baking powder?

    This recipe also gave me the inspiration to try out my own lemon cookie (lemon-zesty icing, anyone?!), so thank you! I’m happy to be back in the kitchen.

  70. meredith

    i was wondering if this recipe makes that classic fudgier chocolate side or if it’s the same sort of crackly glaze as the white side only with chocolate flavor? anyone?

  71. Heather

    I was so excited to try this recipe and they turned out amazingly delicious. The only downside is that my co-workers now hate me because they literally can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar. Love your blog!

  72. Tina

    THANK YOU!!! I have never had one of these but I am hosting a Bridal Shower for my future SIL and it is a Black and White theme. I wanted to make these as favors

  73. Priya

    I’d been DYING to make these cookies b/c the pictures look so amazingly tasty! Everything went well until i tried to make the white frosting… it came out clear and when i spread it on the cookies it just soaked in. What did I do wrong??? :(

  74. deb

    Hi Priya — If the cookies were completely cool when you iced them and you used standard powdered/confectioner’s sugar, I am a bit stumped as well. Those are the only two things that I think could lead to the icing just being clear–or perhaps too much boiling water was added? That could make it too thin, and absorbent as well.

  75. eliza

    Sorry all, but I wasnt impressed with these cookies. I’ve had the real deal B&W from NYC. There’s something missing from the “white,” perhaps vanilla? Either way, they’re yummy, just not the classic we were hoping for.

  76. Bernie

    You are a bush leaguer when it comes to half-Moon history. First of all they originated UPSTATE; where the chocolate cake is and always has been optional.

  77. Jon

    First off, I’ve been dying to find a recipe for b&w cookies, and I Stumbled! on this site, so it was a great find. The cookie itself was easy enough, but I somehow managed to make the frosting too thin (the vanilla…too much water) and too thick at the same time…I’d guess it was the chocolate I used (as it was a bit old)…but I’d definitely try it again!

  78. Bill C.

    Here in Australia they are called nienish or neenish tarts, and they aren’t cookies, they are true little tarts with a cream and raspberry jam filling. I think the name is derived from Dutch. Since your version is a New York delicacy, I suspect it may have a Dutch derivation too.

  79. Ayn

    Hi Deb,

    A friend and I just finished baking these (I admit, we haven’t gotten around to frosting them yet and I already have a question!), and our cookies turned out very thin. They’re definitely not as thick and cakey as the ones in your pictures or others I’ve seen/tried. Do you know why this might be? Thanks!

  80. JMB

    Ack! I don’t know if you’ll respond in time so I might end up doing this trial and error. I’m making these right now for my MIL and I’m stuck on the first step. You said to add sugar. Do you mean both the granulated and confectioner sugar or only the granulated, as the other is for icing?

    Worst case scenario, I end up making a second batch successfully. :)


  81. JMB

    I figured it out on my own, but thank you. Hopefully that question will clear it up for someone else who is confused. The second batch (my oven is too small to cook all at once) is cooking now. They look fantastic so far. Thanks!

  82. I made these a few weeks ago and posted them on my blog today, linkng to your blog here. I hope that’s okay. Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as yours, but they were yummy!

  83. K8

    Thanks for posting this recipe!
    I’ve been going to NYC and eating Black And Whites since I was a little kid. Now I can show all my friends at home what they’re missing!

  84. Liz

    I’m from upstate new york, and have a very unorthodox method of eating by half moons… I cut them down the middle where the frostings meet and sandwich them together, creating a half circle, so I can get both the black and white in the same bite =] (and so I can rhyme when describing them, heh.)

  85. Suzanne

    I just thought I’d add this because they are a cake-like cookie and seem more prone to altitude difficulties: this recipe worked perfectly and with no alterations at 5000 feet!

  86. Ryan Severe

    They r everywhere here in NY. I LOVEE them. Mom used to make them all the time wen i was still in High School. Now i have to learn to make them myself cuz they r so good and we should all be able to enjoy them whenever we want to. XD
    Thnxx for the recipe debb = )

  87. sandy

    This was a cookie “don’t” for me. I tried making these for the first time hours before taking them to a sports banquet. It was over 80 degrees in sea level Seattle. Way too hot for baking but I really wanted to take these beautiful cookies to the event.
    Well, my cookies ended up puffy and irregular – totally different than the flat and perfectly round cookies in the photos.
    I iced the best ones anyway because they tasted fine. I tried both convection -25 degrees and regular oven temp at 350 and used a silpat mat. Any advice? I will definitely try again but want a better result. Looks like you used a round cutter and flattened them prior to baking. Thanks for your response.

    1. deb

      No round cutter, no flattening — I make the exact recipes I share here. Not sure what would have caused yours to be different but if you try them again, maybe add a couple extra tablespoons to thin the batter a bit. It’s possible that natural variances in ingredients caused yours to spread less.

  88. Emily

    So if I don’t have lemon extract, I can use lemon zest? Should I do 1/4 tsp of zest as well, or more because it’s not as strong?

  89. Stacey


    Thank you sooo much for making me look like such an all-star to my friends and family by sharing this AWESOME recipe! I set them up in a pretty basket at a party and NO ONE believed that I made them!

    I lived in NYC for a bunch of years so I am not only aware of black and white cookies, but am critic as well — they are my favorite! These were the BEST I have ever found and I made them! Very cool!


  90. Bob W

    I think it’s actually BETTER with the lemon zest, but you should double the amount if you use that rather than extract.

  91. Mark

    These cookies are awsome – 5 stars! I do have a couple of suggestions. I used a #16 scoop which equals 1/4 cup; six to a sheet pan. Once I had the cookies scooped out I took a large wetted spoon and flattened the batter otherwise I found them to be thick, almost like a whoopie pie cookie. In my oven they baked in 16 minutes, but everyone’s oven is a bit different. They were lightly browned on the bottom and pale on top; still cake-like.

    I used most of the white icing on the 30 cookies I had so took another 1# bag of confectioners sugar using 1-4oz bar of 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate from Ghiradelli. The color and taste of the chocolate icing was perfect. For some odd reason I used a lot less of the chocoate icing than I made! After the icing set I wrapped each cookie in plastic wrap and put into the refrigeraton. I live in a 55+ community and most of our friends and neighbors are diabetic or are closing watching their weight. The cookies seem to have held up just fine in the refrigerator and hopefully I can pass the rest out today.

    Just as a side note: Being unemployed most of this year I’ve taken the opportunity to perfect many of my childhood foods as well as those my Mom, may she rest in peace, made for us and our children. I now make a mean Potato Knish, Mom’s Loaded Mandel Bread (cherries, mini chocoate chips & walnuts), Rich, Chocolately Rugelach, Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage, Challah, NY Style Chewy Bagels, Onion Rolls, and now these great Black & Whites! Even though I was born in Brooklyn and brought up in Maine the old Jewish recipes and the memory of the tastes are enbedded into my genes. Tomorrow my wife and I hope to go blueberry picking and my next project will be my Bubbe’s Blueberry Bulkies which are blueberry filled pockets made with Challah dough.

  92. Leslie

    A giant round of applause!!! I heart black and white cookies, they make me happy. This recipe is fantastic, the real deal. I was just in Manhattan a couple weeks ago and couldn’t tell a difference. Thank you for making an Arizona girl happy, knowing she can make her own black and whites!!

  93. OMG.. these cookies look to die for!! I LOVE the big soft black and white cookies… every time we visit this sweet deli outside of town my kiddo screams at me to stop and get the black and white cookie! I have NO excuses now not to try and make these. Congrats on you ‘fame’ as well!! How fun and so cute.

  94. Max

    Honey Bee Sweets – This is a bit late, but I wanted to add that I tried it with maple syrup in a pinch, and while good, the vanilla side tasted like… maple syrup. Still yummy, but not the black and whites of my memories. I will be sticking to the original recipe next time.

  95. Gary

    I was born in Brooklyn and I have been eating black & whites for about 56 years. I remember paying 15 cents each for them when I was a kid. Whenever I go back to NYC I go to a bakery on Lee Ave. in Brooklyn and get a bunch of them. Now I pay $1.00 each for them but they are well worth it. I eat them as follows: I break it in half with both halves having both icings on them. with the first half that I eat I start with the white side and work my way to the black side. The second half I just reverse the process so I finish up with the white side. I save the best for last. My daughter said that she is going to make them for me so I am looking forward to that.

  96. Lisa

    OMG, i am so happy to see this recipe. I grew up in Miami but live in suburban Denver and not only can you not even get a real bagel, NO ONE even knows what you’re talking about when you say B&W cookie. On my visits to Florida, i always try to stock up on black and whites and freeze them, but it’s not at all the same as having fresh ones (btw, for anyone looking for good ones in Fort Lauderdale, Deli Den on Stirling Road has pretty authentic-tasting minis). Thanks for this, Deb, as well as for the link to David Leibovitz’s site…he’s another of the chefs i admire!

  97. Mary

    Sandy – you may have left the milk out of the recipe. I just did that with a batch and they turned out not at all like the pictures. I was stumped for a while, as I had made them before but then realized I had never put in the milk!
    Luckily they’re still quite delicious. :)

    Thanks Deb for this amazing website!! I get almost all my recipes from you and, when I’m not forgetting the milk, everything always turns out just beautifully.

  98. Bryn

    I really wanted to love these cookies but they were kind of blah. The cookie itself just isn’t very tasty or moist and the frosting doesn’t nearly enough make up for that lackluster in the cookie department. I’m still looking for a good black and white cookie recipe! PS There’s no reason to boil the water before adding it to the confectioner’s sugar for the frosting.

  99. Jilly

    All I can say is, what a hit!! I made these and everyone went nuts over them! Not only were the most delicious black & whites I have ever had (and I am a New Yorker) but they were so much fun to make. Thanks so much!! I will be making these very often. If you are hesitant to make these & think that they are impossible, I promise you, it is worth all of the effort!

  100. Julie

    Oh wow, THANK YOU. It’s so hard to find good black and white cookies in Phoenix; I haven’t even frosted these yet and I’m already impressed :)

  101. Rachel

    This recipe was absolutely amazing! My cookies cooked in under ten minutes, so don’t take your eyes off of the oven. Also I didn’t need the corn syrup in the chocolate frosting.

  102. Jenna

    I’ve made my dough but it seems pretty thin… is that normal? I’m chilling the dough before I bake b/c my house is really humid right now :)

  103. Katy

    I grew up eating black & whites from the dearly departed Zausin’s Bakery in St. James, New York (LI). My dad would cut them up into six or eight slices, like a small pizza, and my brother and I would fight over the pieces. Maybe that’s why the word “sharing” gives me a mental image of a black & white. So excited to try this recipe!

  104. PaigeWaters

    This is why I allow myself to spend too much time perusing this blog — I always find it time well spent. My mom’s birthday is Sunday and I didn’t know what to get her. She loves the black and white cookies from Fresh Market, so I think I’ll make her a batch of these and see what she thinks :-)

  105. Rachel

    So, I have now made about 4 batches of these in the last few months, and whereas they take a while, and take a lot of counter space! with all the cooling, and setting of the icings, I’d say these take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to complete. If you have double ovens, much less time. I can only bake about 10 large cookies at a time in my oven. And I get about 25 out of a recipe.

    My only beef with this recipe, Deb, is that after adding the eggs, milk and extracts, the previously light and airy butter/sugar love turns into a vat of separated fat and liquid. I use room temperature milk, but still the butter separates. So, it’s impossible to “mix until smooth,” as your directions state. Do you really get it smooth BEFORE adding the flour mixture? Just wondering. Once I mix in the flour, everything comes together in a nice thick cake-y like batter. But that part always frustrates me.

    Love this cookie, tho. Just hard to transport . . .

  106. Teresa

    Oh yes I thought the same, It was smooth AFTER i added the flour

    The white icing tasted a little weird, it tasted like funny and fake sugary but that happens a lot with icing like that so I know how to fix it

    How did you get you cookies in that perfect circle shape?

  107. C.B.

    I am moving to England soon so I am so glad to have this recipe! Black and White Cookies are not just NYC, they are all of NY. I grew up in Northern NY and I love these. I lived in Boston for a year and they think black and white cookies are literally cookies and make them that way. I was very said to see this and felt relief to move back to NY state and see the real thing again. I will need to make these over in England for my boyfriend’s family :)

  108. Charley

    Well, I made these…I am a little disappointed! The texture and color are perfect but they don’t taste like well, anything? can I add a little more vanilla next time, or maybe to the white icing side?

  109. Laura

    I just made these and mine came out puffy and somewhat dry. I don’t know what could have happened, but they totally don’t look like yours, nor do they taste like the B&Ws I used to get in NY. I’m so sad…but on a side note, your rainbow cookies recipes I followed were delish! It’s funny the things you miss from NY when you move.

  110. Heather

    I am planning on adding your black and whites to my Christmas cookie line up this year. I am wondering. If i make the cookies ahead of time and freeze them, how do you think they will keep?
    Thanks for this great recipe.

  111. Anna

    Tried these on the weekend as part of my holiday cookie line up and I’m sorry to report they were a bit of a flop. Not quite sure where things went wrong – I agree with Laura’s comment from Dec. 9 (“puffy and somewhat dry”). They didn’t spread well when baked and as my husband described, were more like tea biscuits than b&w cookies (we’re going to save the cookies and serve them with preserves and clotted cream). Perhaps more liquid needed? I went back to an older recipe (Epicurious has a good one) that worked for me — uses buttermilk which seems to give the cookie the flavor I remember from visits to Zabars. Sorry Deb, this one just didn’t work. Thanks for the inspiration though!

  112. Phyllis Katzen

    Just discovered this site… amazing that you would share all these recipes with people and I can’t wait to start trying them. BEST B&W COOKIES ON PLANET EARTH… although now $2.50 a piece .. Dortoni’s Bakery in Levittown, NY. You can’t drive by this bakery without buying one, they are huge, they are a meal, they are delicious!

  113. Rochelle Eissenstat

    This may be a strange POV on Black and White cookies but here it is: Every Shabbat, I would try to include some food [usually dessert :-) ] that reflected something in that week’s story. For example, the week of Esau selling his birthright for lentil stew, I would make a lentil soup. For the week of Abraham’s being told to “Go where I send you” I would bake foot shaped cookies dusted with cinnamon sugar [for the sand that probably clung to his feet].
    Black and Whites fit into the first of the Torah readings – Creation. I would make something for each Day of Creation and display the dessert offerings on the table. B&W cookies represent the first Day – G-d separated light from darkness! Blue and white cotton candy was for Day 2 when G-d created the firmament. And so on. Let me tell you, kids love seeing what will be the food for each week’s reading.

  114. Jenn

    Hi there! I’m a former upstate NY-er, so they’re always half-moons to me. I woudl also like to know if you can make ahead & freeze.

  115. Very Nice. My 16 year old daughter, Lauren and I were searching for what’s next. We make killer biscottis. My wife had brought home sell B & W cookies and we said this is whats next. We have eaten B&W cookies on and off forever. Born in NY.

    To start, we cut the batch in half thinking, lets be a bit conservative at the start. Thinking that we’d not be soo good.

    The cookies came out perfectly. Shape texture and flavor.

    You are right, the vanilla icing gets too wet quickly. I added back some conf sugar–they looked great, perfect–icing tasted ok but missing something??

    The chocolate icing, I added the cocoa looked great and tasted as it should. Need to keep the icing wet to keep the shine.

    Overall for the first batch, we were very happy. Thank you for the recipe.

  116. lu

    i had SO MANY PROBLEMS with these! first, the liquid ingredients would just not come together. i whisked for at least 10 minutes, no luck. i finally just ended up combining them with the dry anyway, and the dough seemed fine! then when i baked them, they domed up like CRAZY. that might have been all that whipping, actually, so maybe that was my fault. then when i went to ice the backs, the white frosting went on fine, but the chocolate was so dry that i had to keep it on the stove so i could ie more than 3 cookies at a time. and they really did not taste too good :/

    i piped little hearts on and i needed to wrap them so i actually left them out overnight covered, and they taste way better! so these weren’t a total bust. anyway, not gonna be making this recipe again >_< too bad, cos i usually love your recipes! D:

  117. eve

    For those who weren’t impressed, I recommend a few alterations: double the salt, quadruple the vanilla, add some orange blossom water, and use cultured butter. In particular, the extra salt may really help (I added this change the second time I made them, and they were way better, at least to my taste; if you really like salt, you could probably add even a touch more). I also added a drop or so of lemon extract, some vanilla, and some orange blossom water to the icing. My taste testers (who claim to know all about authentic black and whites from NYC) approved the first batch and loved the second.

    For those who had trouble mixing, I added the milk and dry ingredients alternating to the butter/egg/sugar mix, which works fine. Also, you can safely double (or more) the baking powder without any of that nasty taste, which probably helps get them fluffy, especially if you’re doing it by hand. I did this even though I was using a machine.

  118. I have made these cookies many times and they are always well received. I am thinking about making them again for an upcoming birthday celebration and was wondering if you think it would be possible to adjust the recipe/cooking time to bake giant cake-sized cookies?

  119. Catherine

    I made these just last night and they are FABULOUS. Admittedly, I also had a wee issue getting the butter, sugar, milk mixture smooth, so I whipped it to death with a whisk attachment (yikes), then slowly added the flour mixture anyway (it promptly smoothed out into a gorgeous batter). Extra salt and vanilla are a must in the batter (double it), and I replaced lemon extract with the zest of an entire lemon. For those of you who want extra “black” chocolate glaze, add a large pinch of black powdered food coloring- it yields the perfect contrasting hue to the stark white without ruining the texture. Thanks, Deb!

  120. I’m a native New Yorker who got displaced to Chicago. I am so desperate for a black and white cookie. I can’t wait to try making these right now (and by right now, I mean after I run out to the grocery store!)

  121. Kat

    Not good at all- I tried to make this recipe and they turned out disgusting. They had the taste and thickness of pancakes and looked bad. However, this may be my fault not the recipes. I only used all purpose flour, not that and cake flour. Is that a problem, or are the two interchangeable? :(

  122. @Kat, I would wait for Deb to weigh in on this but my gut says that using ALL all-purpose flour could make a VERY big difference in the cookies. In the future, you can make your own cake flour by measuring the amount called for in the recipe into a bowl, then removing two tablespoons of flour per cup (just dump it back in your bin) and replacing those two tablespoons with cornstarch. That’s what I did for this recipe and they’re in the oven now. Here’s hoping it works!

  123. Kris

    I just made these, and had the same problem that some other readers had with too-puffy, too-dense cookies. I followed the recipe exactly and played with batter quantities and smooshing out the batter to be flatter, but it still was rather puffy in the middle, and they had the taste of dry pancakes. Will have to revisit this.

  124. I love black and white cookies! I used to eat them all the time when i was little at starbucks then they stopped making them. But now they make them in little packages they are smaller but they taste the same :)

  125. Kim

    Thank you SO! much for posting this! Having grown up in New England and having spent all my childhood summers in New Jersey, black and white cookies are a staple of my life that are sorely missed here in Germany – they have “Amerikaner” here, but they are just not the same and typically only have the white icing. Again, many thanks:) I will be making these asap!

  126. Kristina

    Ok so I’m having trouble with the emulsification of the butter sugar and eggs! What did you do to keep them from all separating!? Help!

  127. deb

    I realize the recipe doesn’t make this clear — oops — but it’s best to use room temperature eggs and add them one at a time when baking for the smoothest batters. I will add that note. That said, everything should come back together for you when you add the dry ingredients. Good luck!

  128. liz

    So I made this batch today & adhered to your directions specifically as a surprise to my mom when she came to visit. However, when i drop the cookies onto the lightly greased & un-greased pampered chef pan, they melt in the oven & are flat & nasty! What is up? butter was room temp, used the correct measurements, and went in the order specified. Please help, I still have more batter left.

  129. Elizabeth

    My white frosting doesn’t come out very white, nothing like the frosting in your amazing pictures. It is translucent, and so appers more gray (though it tastes great). The consistency of the frosting is just right, so it isn’t that it’s too thin. Ay suggestions?

  130. deb

    You can try to add more powdered sugar for more opacity. Mine wasn’t totally opaque (you can see the cooking showing through a little in the 4th picture), either. You can also go thicker on the white, even re-coating it (I didn’t, but think it would work) to get the look right.

  131. Jennifer

    Hi- i tried making these tonight. I didnt see about having eggs at room temp and i only had skim milk. I creamed the butter and sugar and added each egg, mixing after each. It looked fairly creamy and fluffy, until i added the milk. Then i ended up with curdled mess. I had put the eggs in hot water to try to warm them up a bit (maybe 2-3 min). Was the problem, you think, the eggs or the skim milk? I was really bummed when I couldnt fix the egg soup :-(
    Help! :-)

  132. I noticed some people were asking, but I didn’t see anyone answer… Can you freeze these cookies when they’re finished OR freeze the dough before you bake them?


  133. What did I do wrong? I used whole milk, but my mixture appeared curdled as well when I added the milk. I tried to add it slowly, but maybe not slowly enough? Anyway, I proceeded ahead, they just came out of the oven and they look good so I’m crossing my fingers. Any thoughts on what went wrong?

  134. Peg Rosen

    Iactually usethe Gourmet recipe for black and whites but decided to give this a try. Gotta stay…this is a flawed recipe and does not liveup to smittenkitchen standards. The cookies do not have the look of a classic black and white and they are dry dry dry. First batch of blackandwhites I’ve ever made that didn’t get eaten.

  135. Born in NY and raised in NJ, Grandma used to “treat” us to Black and Whites all the time. I just made these and found myself smiling the entire time, thinking of my Gram. Thanks for posting such a great recipe. :)

  136. Amanda

    I made these last night and they turned out awful! I don’t know what I did wrong- I measured exactly but the cookies thinned out so much I couldn’t bake them longer than 7 minutes without burning. I don’t know what to do differently.

  137. Lissa

    I made these last night and the cookies are gorgeous and the directions you gave are perfect. I am just disappointed in the taste… i even added a little extra salt and extracts, and the cookies are very tasteless. The chocolate side is pretty good, but the white side, having only powdered sugar and water, is pretty ick as that is all I can taste. Maybe next time I’ll add vanilla to the white and change a couple other things, since my attempt at a classic black & white cookie was a bit of a failure in my opinion. I’d definitely go with a thin layer of the white icing (like where the cookie shows through a little), maybe that way it won’t be just powdered sugar taste. Also, this recipe make A LOT of cookies–I believe I got about 36-40 4 inch cookies out of it. Thank you for all you do :)

  138. Britt

    I wish I’d read ALL the comments before making these… The cookies are plain alone.. The icings are all blah on their own… Put them all together and you get some just “ok” cookies… Aka not what you spent 3 hours preparing/making/icing. Not worth it for the mess these made.. Now my mom will be disappointed in this birthday dessert I was so excited to surprise her with :/ bummer

  139. britt

    I had to come back today and sy my mom went crazy fir these cookies! Now i can continue to say EVERYTHING I’ve made from smitten kitchen has been amazing !:)

  140. I just made these cookies tonight, and my friends and I all thought they were delicious! I quartered the recipe and got 6, 3.5″ diameter cookies out of it, and I ended up having to double the amount of frosting since the white was slightly see-through at first. Other than that, I think my first time making black and white cookies was a success.

    Also, these were a great to make while being snowed in by Winter Storm Nemo. I’ll be posting them on my blog soon!

  141. Hi Deb! My boyfriend and I made these cookies for his coworkers tonight, and I wanted to say I love your recipe! The only change I made was to double the lemon extract, because I like by B&Ws to have a pronounced lemon flavor, and they were perfect! Fluffy with crisp edges. Thanks!

  142. svenson

    I got to know these cookies on a trip to NYC. I ate them almost everyday at a place called ‘danny’s’ at 217 West 47th Street. I also ate one that was bought at JFK just before returning to Belgium. Both tasted exactly the same. Lemontaste, yellowish inside and delicious.
    I’ve been trying several recipes but I cannot get even close to the shape and taste of the ones I ate in NYC. Mine always are kinda flat and light where as the ones in NYC were thicker and more dense with a nice lemon flavor. If anyone knows how to recreate them that way, please let me know because those were the best things I ever ate in my life and not being able to recreate them is really annoying.

  143. kim

    Hi Deb- I love your recipe. I made these tonight and they are great! I have a ton left over and I was thnking about freezing or refrigerating them. Any thoughts on that? Thanks, Kim

    1. deb

      Hi kim — I usually keep cookies at room temperature but if you’re concerned about humidity/stickiness the fridge might be better. I do fear that they dry out faster in there.

  144. Emily BD

    Hi there- I’m a cook on a budget and I wonder if anyone could offer an alternative to lemon extract? How much lemon juice (which is totally free from my neighbor’s tree!), for example, could I substitute before having to balance it out with more dry ingredients?


  145. Jamie

    Hi Deb- I absolutely love your posts and your book. I finally got around to making these cookies today (have been meaning to for a while) and they came out just a little flat and dense. Otherwise, they were very yummy as expected from your recipes. I used the cake flour and followed the recipe aside from leaving out the lemon zest (per my husband’s request). Any ideas how I can make them more fluffy? Thanks!

  146. deb

    Hi Jamie — There’s definitely no way at all that you might have forgotten the baking powder? Or that you might have accidentally used baking powder with leavener in it?

  147. Gennie

    I made these for my daughters class last night, she had to bring in a food that comes from New York, and I found these. Just want to say they turned out perfect and were absolutely amazing! I am sure the kids will all love them tomorrow. Good thing it made so many because now we have extra to enjoy at home! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  148. Wendy

    Do you remember if the icing dries hard enough to stack these? I want to make these this weekend, but I’m going to need to stack cookies and don’t want the icing to get all smushed.

    1. deb

      Wendy — In a cool kitchen, it dries pretty firm, but not hard, not like a royal icing. However, I imagine some meringue powder could be added to make it firmer.

  149. Sarah

    Love your website! So much fun! I have to travel with these. Is it possible to make the icing, bring it in containers, and ice when I get there? Would it be better to keep it cool with ice packs or not? Thanks!

  150. Allison

    Twice now have made these cookies (because I love this recipe and website!). Still, as others have commented, my batches are very round, puffy cookies. Any advice to help flatten the tops out too? Thanks!

  151. Jordan

    This recipe looks so good and I am about to make them for my husband. They are his favorite and it will be the perfect anniversary present. Question: do you think I could cut the recipe in half? Then I could make one dozen large cookies. Thanks!

  152. Meredith

    Just a little tip for the frosting…I haven’t actually tried it but was given some delicious b & w cookies from an NC Bakery. They frosted the entire top with the white and then dunked half the cookie in the chocolate. Seems easier than trying to frost half and half plus you get extra frosting (half of back of the cookie will have chocolate frosting on it too!) I’m going to give these a try soon!

  153. Bridget

    My batter was too thick. The first batch barely spread and are very tall. The second batch I pressed down before baking and they came out better. Any idea why the batter was so thick and didn’t spread? I only had skim milk, so could that have been the problem?

  154. Barbara

    Hi Deb! I am going to ask people to make these for an event, so I tried the recipe first. Fun! They have a simple almost bland taste, and that is just how I remember these tasting when my family went to New York to visit relatives. I am happy, Thank you!

  155. I made these tonight and they’re sadly heading straight for the trash. This was totally my fault but I wanted to add a word of warning here — if you’re subbing lemon zest for the extract, don’t add it at the same point in the recipe. The thought crossed my mind beforehand but I sillily plunged onward — when you add the lemon zest with the wet ingredients, the milk and eggs curdle. I opted just to keep going and the dough looked fairly normal once I added the dry ingredients (and tasted amazing, I swiped more than was decorous) but the cookies spread a lot once baked and taste kind of stale with an unpleasant texture. My husband is even refusing to bring them to work which has happened, well, never. So sad. Thank god we live a block and a half from Zabar’s, which makes an excellent black and white.

  156. Stacey

    I made these and they were delicious, the only thing is, that they seemed to stay extra thick instead of spreading out a little, any suggestions?

  157. Athina

    For some reason, anytime I’ve had a black and white cookie-and could detect the lemon, I did not like it.Maybe it is because the first one I’d ever had was insanely vanilla-ish (is that a word?) The idea of lemon flavor, (even in small amounts) combined with chocolate, turns me off. Does anyone else feel this way? Anyway, these look delicious,but because of the whole lemon issue-I will simply omit the lemon extract-and perhaps double the vanilla. I am totally craving these right now-but I don’t have any confectioners sugar in the house…Alas, I will have to wait…Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful recipes. I think you’re great.

  158. Kami

    These are next on this list. I’ve made soooo many disappointing batches of black and whites hoping to find THE recipe that saves my husband from having to bring back a ginormous box every time he goes on a business trip! Also, I’m 100 years pregnant, which makes it more socially acceptable to eat my weight in cookies….

  159. Catherine

    Not sure how this recipe is “adapted,” since it’s identical to one from the NY Times in 1998 (I have the well loved newspaper cutout in my recipe box) but it’s a good one! I made these many times and have found that lemon zest does not make a good substitute–the flavor is too bitter. But honestly, you can leave the lemon extract out and these are still delicious.

  160. Maro

    so, I was in NYC this week, and I knew you had posted a black & white cookie recipe at one point. I knew that you claimed that B&W cookies were actually delicious (contrary to any experience I’d previously had). I told myself I had to try one in NYC, just to see. On our last day, after lots of walking, I convinced my coworkers we had to hit Zabar’s for a real deli sandwich (Portland has the saddest deli game). I grabbed a giant black & white cookie and made everyone try it — we all lost our minds, everyone bought their own, and they all asked if I had a recipe for them.

    Looks like I’ll be making this recipe for the office sometime soon. Thanks for unknowingly making me try them!

    (also, speaking of mind-losing deliciousness, we checked out Coppelia Cuban diner in Chelsea — holy moly.)

  161. Steven Gelb

    Take a road trip to The Macaroon Shop { black and white cookies} 107 Main St, Avon-By-The-Sea (732) 776-6363. It’s worth the trip if you like black and white cookies. And a mile north on the same street, Main, try Del Ponte’s Bakery for some Italian cookies (pistachio filling is my favorite).

    If you want high quality bakery items you have to go to a bakery that specializes in the item you want. If you want a great croissant, go to Tartines in San Francisco.

  162. Sara

    How much frosting should you have left after the vanilla? Just tried making these and there didn’t seem to be enough to create the chocolate side.

  163. I just finished frosting these! They’re delicious. My batter did split after adding the milk. I think next time I will try to get it closer to room temp. Also, my chocolate frosting did get rather thick and hard to work with, and, naturally, I didn’t see the tip about adding hot water until after I was done! They’re still tasty though, and I’ll use my advice next time :)

    1. Tara K Gutman

      Same happened to me with the curdling/splitting of the batter.. .I put my mixing bowl in a large bowl of warm water and hand whisked…

  164. Sgschef

    Can someone tell me if these black & whites can be frozen? Really want to make them for company on Thursday but need to get them done tonight or tomorrow

  165. Maro

    made them last night and they just didn’t quite get there for me. maybe b/c my ingredients were a little cold, so they got overworked. maybe my bake wasn’t quite right. i dunno. they aren’t as soft as they should be and i’m not thrilled with the icing, either. i think i’ll just hold out for Zabar’s on my next trip to NYC.

  166. MadeleineC

    A late but necessary comment – in my particular corner of upstate NY (Finger Lakes) we called them day-and-night cookies.

  167. Rebecca

    I made these yesterday and they expanded soooo much in the oven. Yay giant cookies! But they browned too fast. I ended up having to lower the heat to 350 and even then I could only leave them in for 10 minutes.

    I wonder if this is an altitude problem? I’m at 5000 ft and usually don’t have to make that adjustment. But any ideas of what I should add?

  168. Made these for a solstice party tomorrow night. I didn’t have lemon extract so I used almond instead, and they still turned out great. But, I had to eat one that was misshapen, oh no!

  169. alisonenorman

    Can you chill the dough and make th cookies the next day? Is that bad to do with this type of dough? I need help ASAP!

    1. deb

      Yes, you can but let it warm up a little before baking. You don’t want these to be too cold to spread a little, as they’re supposed to.

  170. Carol

    Okay, could I half this recipe? How would that work with the small ingredients, like baking powder? Is there a critical amount of baking powder you need? I can’t imagine halfing everything would work…

  171. PleaseExcuseMyDearAuntSally

    Tried these and wasn’t thrilled. Cookie was a bit more leathery than ideal. I would prob avoid using a blender after creaming the Butter and sugar and try mixing by hand the rest of the way. Maybe beat the whites separately and then fold them in?

    Used a scooper and ended up with more of an oblong shape cookie. It was pretty difficult to get them exactly round.

    I would also omit the lemon. I used the zest of 1 lemon and it felt distracting/superfluous.

    Anyway. This was prob a good enough cookie for someone who hasn’t grown up with them as a mainstay but given the amount of work involved and the occasional availability of entenmanns black and whites at Publix, they were not worth the energy, though they did get a lot of likes on my IG. They look better than they taste.

    I really respect SK but sometimes think there’s a little too much deb kool-aid to be able to trust reviews. She’s like the Teflon Donna

    1. deb

      I’m sorry they weren’t to you liking. I did grow up with black-and-white cookies and these were as close as I’ve gotten at home. I haven’t made them in a few years, though, and am overdue give them another spin and see if they’re up to 2018 Deb’s standards.

  172. reshmaadwar

    Help!! I’m on your site today (Thanksgiving!) for the Classic Pumpkin Pie with Praline sauce and then started to dream about the next family-food gathering and opened a bunch of SK recipe tabs and now many many, many minutes later I’m here. My hubby’s family is Jewish and I want to make these to end the Hanukkah feast I am hosting in a few weeks. I saw other recipes on other sites that use cream cheese or sour cream in the batter or do a thicker buttercream-like black and white frosting. Is this still your go-to black and white cookie recipe? Any tweaks or updates I should consider? My plan is to put a cute stripe of colorful nonpareils down the middle where black meets white for extra festivity- will this icing hold them? Obviously we should both go enjoy our turkeys and pies for now, but I would love some guidance at some point before Hanukkah. Thank you, Deb!!

    1. deb

      It’s still my go-to, however, I haven’t made them in several years, thus I do think a revisit (and seeing where they can be tweaked, as I can never resist doing) might be in order. But they work as promised. Promise.

  173. Tara K Gutman

    Anyone try freezing the cookies and frosting later? I thought rather than frost them all, I’d do half now and half another time…

    1. Tara K Gutman

      I You can BUT cake flour is made by measuring 1 cup AP flour, removing 2 tbsp and replace with 2 tbsp corn starch. Whisk together and wahla!

  174. Laura S.

    I made half a batch by simply halving all the ingredients and got 14 3-inch cookies that were perfectly delicious. They only needed 12 minutes bake time at 375. If you try this recipe, its very important that the milk is also at room temperature, not just the eggs and butter. Adding cold milk made my batter curdle right away. Experienced bakers may know this as common sense but I’m a novice and I panicked, and nearly dumped it to start over. Luckily I was saved by another reader’s comment who suggested warming up the batter in a hot-water bath while whisking it. That tricked saved the day and the cookies turned out wonderfully after all. I would definitely make these again.

    1. deb

      It may take on a curdled appearance, but it is not curdled or ruined — for future reference. It will all come together as it should in the end.

  175. Jinny

    I can’t believe it took me 12 years (!) to find this post, but I’m so glad I have. B&Ws are my absolute favorite cookie and there just aren’t many good ones near Boston. I grew up in Ithaca, NY and we had half-moons, but the big difference to me was that those had frosting, not icing – and I much prefer the latter. Whenever we visited relatives downstate I would head straight to the real thing, and when I moved to NYC I was in B&W heaven. Now I can replicate at home and not settle for one that I have to peel out of a plastic package – thank you!

  176. Elizabeth

    Hi there,Deb,

    Congrats on Martha.. you deserve it.. your blog is the best!!

    Okay, so I’m a New Yorker living in Texas, and while we have some very good deli’s– real deal style in Houston Kenny and Ziggy’s… I’ve always wanted to make these because they remind me of home and are my self care if I have a cold..

    But since it’s just me and hubby until kids and grands visit during pandemic etc I’d like to freeze some, and wanted to see what you recommend, and if it works.


  177. Lisa Welp

    Cookies came out great, just not enough frosting to cover them. I will need to make another batch of frosting.

  178. Barbara

    Can these be made ahead without the frosting and frozen? Then defrosted and frosted the day you want them? If so, what’s the best way to freeze them? Thank you!

  179. Anniemanana

    I know I’m late to the party, but I can’t help but comment on the Upstate half moons. I grew up in Syracuse, where half moons were always white bottoms, chocolate ones showed up years later. Half moons are not so flat, the way black and whites seem to be. And the best part? The frosting is buttercream. While I enjoy both (your recipe in particular),they’re hardly the same cookie after all.

  180. Stephanie

    I’ve seen many recipes for this type of frosting and was wondering what would be the difference between using cold water or boiling water like you do ?

  181. Pam

    I wish it was noted in the recipe that it would look split, I threw my first batch out, I didn’t even add the flour. Made it again today, again didn’t do my due diligence and it split, but went ahead and added all that flour and the batter came together and tasted delicious. Rookie mistake, I didn’t read the reviews and I didn’t room temp my milk..I’m looking forward to frosting them all!