Black and white cookies are one of those curious regional treats, ubiquitous in the New York metro area and pockets of the mid-Atlantic states, but (sadly) few and far between in other areas of the country.
Fortunately, this recipe allows you to have them no matter where you are, dressed up in their holiday best with red and green frosting for a sweet presentation on holiday trays. Bucking tradition a bit I've topped them with colored buttercream frosting instead of the traditional vanilla and chocolate fondant. While I realize this is probably a sort of black and white cookie blasphemy, it sure does taste good.
- For the cookies:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- For the frosting:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar (you may not use all of it)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- red and green food coloring
Make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; in a separate small bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth (the texture is somewhere between cake batter and drop cookie batter).
Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, put mounds of batter about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you use a cookie scoop, you will probably get about 12 medium-sized cookies; if you use an ice cream scoop, which is generally a bit bigger, you will get about 8 big cookies. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and let cool until they are room temperature.
While the cookies cool, make the frosting. In an electric mixer, cream the butter, adding the vanilla, and then the confectioners' sugar, bit by bit, until it has reached your desired consistency. Separate your frosting into two separate dishes. Combine the frosting in each dish with food coloring (I used about 10 drops of green and 10 drops of red for strong, vibrant colors) until fully combined.
To frost, first turn the cookies over—you will actually frost the flat bottom side. Frost the cookies one side at a time. I found that I could get a sharper line down the middle if I started frosting from the outside in, finishing with a stroke down the center. When adding the second color of frosting, the key is to make sure you frost the part where the two colors touch last, frosting the dividing line in one smooth stroke (no backtracking or you will drag the other color of frosting back with you!).
Serve immediately; store at room temperature in an airtight container. I found that these tasted best either the day made or the next day.