Black and white cookies are cakey cookies frosted with vanilla and chocolate icing.

stack of black and white cookies on round plate with bottle of milk behind plate

One and a half years living in New York City and you’d think I would have made black and white cookies by now, but nope. Found at every corner deli and bagel shop in the big apple, black and white cookies are easy to come by. They are large cake-like cookies with a hint of lemon flavor topped with chocolate and white icing.

Now, I don’t know whether it’s the size, texture or healthy dose of vanilla and chocolate icing (or perhaps all three), but these cookies have made a name for themselves. They are about the size of your hand and have a cake-like consistency—you know, soft and light, not crunchy like typical cookies. The hardened icing does add a bit of texture though. When you bite into black and white cookies, your teeth gently break the layer of icing to meet the soft cookie beneath.

black and white cookie ingredients in bowls labeled with text

Step by step instructions

  1. Make the cookie dough: Whisk together dry ingredients—flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Combine butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon with an electric mixer. Alternate adding flour and milk to the dough. Stir just until combined.
  2. Bake the cookies: Scoop 1/4 cup batter on to parchment lined baking sheet. Use wet fingers to shape dough into discs. Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes.
  3. Prepare icing: Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside. Bring water and corn syrup to a boil, then remove from heat and add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Place 3/4 cup of vanilla mixture in bowl with the melted chocolate. Stir to combine.
  4. Ice the cookies: Use an offset spatula to spread vanilla icing on half the cookie, tilting the iced side down so the excess can drip off. Place on wire rack to set. Repeat with remaining cookies before adding the chocolate. Once vanilla icing is set, add the chocolate icing to the other half of the cookies.
photo collage demonstrating how to make black and white cookie dough with electric mixer and mixing bowl
photo collage showing how to make icing and ice black and white cookies

Tips for icing black and white cookies

There is a technique to icing black and white cookies. The first tip is to start with the vanilla icing. Use an offset spatula to spread the vanilla icing over half the cookie. I find it helpful to tilt the cookie slightly so the excess icing can drip off. Use the offset spatula to scrape off icing around the edge of the cookie. Place cookie back on the wire rack to set before adding the chocolate icing.

Make sure to frost all the cookies with the vanilla icing first before adding the chocolate icing. You want the vanilla icing to harden so it doesn’t get mixed with the chocolate. This method will guarantee a nice clean line down the center of the cookie. Once the vanilla icing hardens, add the chocolate icing to the cookies and place on the wire rack to set before serving.

six black and white cookies on wire rack on parchment paper

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store black and white cookies: Once the icing is set, place cookies in an airtight container with wax paper or parchment paper between layers so they don’t stick together. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

How to freeze black and white cookies: To freeze iced cookies, place them in the freezer for an hour to harden, then individually wrap them with plastic wrap and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. You can also freeze the cookies without icing for up to 1 month. I do not suggest freezing the cookie dough since it is similar to cake batter.

Where did black and white cookie originate? Many say these cookies were first introduced by Bavarian immigrants John and Justine Glaser in the Manhattan neighborhood of Yorkville back in 1902. However, other sources refer to a bakery called Hemstrought’s in Utica, New York, where they sold the half moon cookie.

plate of three black and white cookies; top cookie has a bite taken out of it

Black and white cookies are very unique since they are cake cookies. In fact, many people call it drop cake cookies. If you like cake-like cookies, then I suggest soft Lofthouse style sugar cookies with frosting. They taste so good homemade! You can also try cakey chocolate chip cookies with plenty of chocolate chips!

There is also a way to make one giant black and white cookie to share with friends. If you want even more cake in each bite, try making black and white cookies in cupcake form.

two plates of black and white cookies; glass bottle of milk and glass with milk next to plates

Pro tip: To achieve a cake-y cookie, you’re going to have a cake-y batter. Plop a quarter-cup of batter/dough onto the cookie sheet and with your hands gently flatten the mound into a disk about five-inches in diameter. Since the dough is more like batter, I suggest getting your hands slightly wet when you flatten the cookies so the batter doesn’t stick to you. Makes the job easier!

Black and white cookies taste like cake and have the perfect combination of vanilla and chocolate icing. Which icing side is your favorite? Mine is chocolate. Let me know yours when you bake these cookies by tagging @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media.

three black and white cookies on a white round plate; top cookie with a bite

Black and White Cookies

Black and white cookies are cake-y cookies frosted with vanilla and chocolate icing.
5 (4 ratings)

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 2 cups (240 g) plain cake flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, , softened but still cool
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (175 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg,, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon lemon extract, or fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup (125 mL) whole milk, (2% works too)

Icing

  • ¼ cup (35 g) unsweetened chocolate,, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons (40 g) light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons (44 mL) water
  • 2 ½ cups (300 g or 10 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

Cookies

  • Adjust the oven racks to the lower- and upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 375° F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually beat in the sugar, increasing the speed to medium high, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Again, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the flour mixture in 4 additions and the milk in 3 additions at low speed until just combined.
  • Using a 1/4-cup drying measuring cup, place six 1/4-cup-mounds of dough a generous 2-inches apart on each baking sheet. With moistened fingers, gently press each mound of dough into a disk 3-inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Bake until the centers of the cookies are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Icing

  • Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water (see tips for melting chocolate here). Remove form the heat and set aside. Bring the corn syrup and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until combined. Transfer 3/4 cup of the vanilla icing to the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
  • Place 2 large wire racks on top of parchment paper or newspaper. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons of the vanilla icing on half of each cookie. Tilt the cookie and run the spatula around the edge of the cookie to scrape off excess icing. Place the cookies on the wire rack and allow the icing to harden, about 15 minutes. Using the spatula, spread the chocolate icing on the other half of each cookie, tilting the cookie downward and scraping away excess icing. Place the cookies on the wire rack and allow the icings to harden, at least 1 hour.

Notes

Cookie dough consistency:  The dough should be thinner than most cookie doughs. Somewhere between cake batter and cookie dough. It should not spread too much when you put the dough on prepared baking sheet. If it’s too thin and spreads, add more flour one tablespoon at a time.
Icing consistency: If the vanilla icing begins to thicken, stir in more hot water, teaspoon by teaspoon, until the icing is fluid enough to coat the cookies. Alternatively, if the icing is too thin and runny, whisk in additional confectioners’ sugar, teaspoon by teaspoon. If the chocolate icing thickens and cools, reheat it over a pot of simmering water until it is fluid enough to coat the cookies. 
Storing black and white cookies: Place cookies between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Freezing black and white cookies: Place iced cookies on a baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour to set. The wrap the cookie individually and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month. You can also freeze un-iced cookies in an airtight container or bag for one month.
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Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated

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