Those “Half Moon” cookies at Lyndell’s inspired me this past Sunday night. Since our room had to host “hall snacks,” I decided to make a Tufts-version of this New York dessert.
Let me explain the concept of hall snacks. In an effort to bring people together, the office of student life asks students to hold weekly get-togethers, when residents of the various dormitories can socialize and connect with those people who live near them. Each week, a different room hosts the get-together and provides the food, the universal college incentive. You want kids to show up at a general interest meeting? Offer free snacks. Anyways, Sunday was our night to host, so I decided to make the cookies, but with a distinct Tufts flair.
I colored the white icing blue and made the other side brown. I accomplished this by not going super dark on the chocolate. The original recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, but I cut it with bittersweet (2oz unsweetened and 1oz bittersweet) and didn’t use any cocoa powder. The frosting bordered on a fudgy ganache, so I occasionally added a little extra hot water to keep it spreadable. The icing was a little too sugary for my taste, but so if I make it again, I might cut it ever so slightly with potato starch and throw in some vanilla extract for extra flavor.
My low inventory forced me to improvise a little bit. I replaced lemon extract with the zest of half a lemon without much of a problem. The cookies also called for cake flour, and I didn’t have any on hand. Cake flour has less protein or something in it, which creates a lighter cake. I used the conversion rate of 1-cup cake flour to 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of All Purpose Flour. My cake was a little dense for my liking, but most people enjoyed it just fine. They kind of took on the texture of madelines.
I invited my friend Eugene over to inspect my cookies. Eugene hails from Manhattan, so I figured that he would make the best judge for authenticity. According to him, I passed the texture category with flying colors, thanks to the soft cookie’s crisp edges. He also found the white side to be a little too sugary. While they may not have been genuine New York-style Black and Whites, The fact that he went for thirds leads me to believe that they’re good enough. Either that or he has low standards (a common trait of the collegiate male).
Black and White Cookies
Yield: About 45 4-inch cookies. Much like dogs, the smaller the cookie, the more dainty, but the more frustrating. You might want to sacrifice some cuteness for sanity on this one, but that’s just one lazy college student’s opinion…
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter softened at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon of a lemon
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 cup of water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces very bitter or unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup.
1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (optional or a darker chocolate frosting)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line with parchment paper or with a non-stick spray.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter. Mix with electric mixer for about five minutes, until fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, milk and vanilla extract and lemon zest, and mix until smooth.
3. In medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt) until mixed. Add dry mixture to the wet in batches, stirring (I used a wooden spoon) well after each addition. Place heaping spoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. These cookies will spread, and they lose something when they aren’t circular, so make sure you give them some space. Bake until edges begin to brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely. Flip them over, so you frost the flat side.
4. In a small pot, boil the cup of water. Place the confectioners’ sugar in large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Gradually add boiling water and vanilla extract to the sugar making a thick, spreadable mixture, about a third of a cup. If for some reason you add too much water, just add some more confectioners’ sugar. Leave remaining boiling water in the pot 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 pot of hot water and bring it back to a simmer, simulating a double-boiler. Stir in the chocolate until it has fully melted, and then add the 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, use that cocoa powder to darken the mixture.
6. Ice the remaining half of the cookies with the chocolate frosting. If the frosting gets too dry and fudgy, then add a teaspoon of the hot water from the pot to the chocolate. This should bring it back to its shiny, spreadable consistency.