With a soft, moist crumb and classic vanilla flavor, this traditional Black and White Cookie also brings the bitter-sweetness of dark chocolate to add a whole new layer of richness and complexity.
Black and white are a classic combination. From tuxedoes to old movies, these two colors together are the very definition of class and tradition. First thought up in an NYC bakery way back in 1902, the black and white cookie has more than earned its spot on this list.
It’s not just the simple elegance of its exterior that has made this cookie such a fixture in American bakeries. The inside is light and sweet, and the cake flour in the batter gives it a pillowy softness that’s so satisfying to sink your teeth into. The icing is smooth and perfectly balanced between dark, rich chocolate and effortlessly sweet vanilla.
The black and white cookie is a staple sweet in bakery shop windows, especially around Manhattan where it originally came from. The cookie itself has an almost cake-like texture. The icing is naturally colored by the ingredients used to make it, with dark chocolate providing the black shade and confectioners’ sugar providing the white.
This simple cookie is full of basic ingredients that have stood the test of time. Scroll down to the recipe card to find exact amounts for everything.
For the Cookies
- Cake Flour
- All-Purpose Flour: Yes, you need both!
- Baking Powder
- Unsalted Butter: Let the butter reach room temperature before you use it.
- Granulated Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Almond Extract: The almond flavor adds a bit of complexity and brings out the vanilla.
For the Icing
- Chocolate: Choose a bittersweet or unsweetened variety to give the icing a true black shade. Chop it into small pieces so it melts evenly.
- Honey: Refined honey is preferred over raw honey, which will make the icing grainy.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: The grains in confectioners’ sugar are finer than the grains in powdered sugar, which gives this icing a smoother texture. Still, powdered sugar will work in a pinch.
- Vanilla Extract
With less than half an hour of active prep time, black and white cookies are just as simple as they look. We’ll start with the steps to make the cookies, then move on to the icing, and finally pull it all together.
Make the Cookies
- Prep Your Materials: Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
- Whisk the Dry Ingredients: Whisk both types of flour together with the baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl, then set it aside.
- Beat the Wet Ingredients: Use a stand mixer or a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer to beat the butter until it’s creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until everything is well combined and the batter is light and fluffy.
- Add the Eggs: Crack the eggs into the butter one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions as needed, until they’re fully incorporated.
- Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Next, add 1/2 of the milk, mixing until just combined. Repeat this step with the remaining flour and milk. The cycle should end with the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.
- Add the Extracts: Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts until they’re incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Form the Cookies: Drop the batter 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Pop them into the preheated oven to bake until the centers are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown, which takes between 15 and 18 minutes.
- Let Cool: Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely before you break out the icing.
Prepare the Icing
- Melt the Chocolate: Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, or over a pot of water on the stove, and set it aside.
- Boil the Water and Honey: Combine the water and the honey in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring them to a boil.
- Add to the Confectioners’ Sugar: Remove the honey and water mixture from the heat and pour half of it into the sugar. Whisk everything until it’s completely combined and smooth. Add more of the honey mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time as needed.
- Add the Vanilla: Stir the vanilla extract into the icing. Add extra liquid very slowly to be sure that the icing doesn’t get runny.
Ice the Cookies
- Dip the Cookies: Dip the cookies in the white icing and set them back on the wire rack with the iced side up until they dry. Fill in any gaps or thin spots using a small offset spatula while the icing is still liquid.
- Make the Chocolate Icing: Once all of the cookies have vanilla icing, stir the melted chocolate into the remaining vanilla icing. If the icing is too thick, stir in any remaining honey mixture 1 teaspoon at a time, until your icing returns to the right consistency.
- Mark the Divide: Fill a decorating bag with a small amount of chocolate icing and snip off the end. Draw a straight line directly across the center of the iced side of each cookie. Put any leftover icing back in the bowl.
- Fill In the Chocolate Side: Using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate icing over half of each cookie, filling it in up to the line.
- Let Dry and Serve: Let the chocolate icing dry completely before serving the cookies.
Tips for Success
These cookies are a great way to impress friends and family with their classic sophistication. Serve them at your book club or garden party to set the tone of elegance for any occasion.
- Straight Lines Every Time: It can be a pain to get the lines straight on the icing if you try to ice each side separately. But there’s actually a simple workaround to make this so much easier. If you do a solid layer of white icing over the whole cookie first, then getting a straight line on the black icing is a breeze. Just make sure you let the white icing dry completely before you move on to the black. I’ve found that this method leads to much nicer lines!
- Adjust the Amount: This recipe is super easy to halve or double, depending on how many cookies you want. I found it really easy to divide the proportions to make just a few cookies.
- Snip Carefully: When you cut the corner off the piping bag, make sure not to snip off too much. You want a hole at the tip that’s big enough to prevent the icing from getting backed up, but small enough to make thin, clean lines.
- Don’t Over-Mix: A black and white cookie is meant to have a light and fluffy texture similar to a cake. Over-mixing the batter can lead to flat, dense cookies.
These black and white cookies are best eaten the same day they’re made. As soon as they start to dry out, they begin to lose their soft and moist cake-like texture. You can store them for up to 3 days at room temperature and 7 days in the fridge. Either way, make sure to wrap them tightly in plastic or keep them in an airtight container.
Do These Freeze Well?
I actually recommend freezing these cookies over refrigerating them if you’re planning to save any. That way, they keep more of their soft and fluffy texture. Freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container or a double-lock freezer bag to lock in the moisture and prevent freezer burn. If you’re storing the cookies in layers, separate them with parchment paper. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before serving them at room temperature.
FOR THE COOKIES
FOR THE ICING
- 3 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
Make the Cookies
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar until well combined and light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time (scraping the bowl between additions, as needed), until fully incorporated.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined, followed by half of the milk, mixing until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, ending with the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.
- Stir in vanilla and almond extracts until combined, being careful not to overmix.
- Drop the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheet(s), leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake until centers are firm and edges just begin to brown, 15-18 minutes.
- Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before icing. Once the cookies are completely cooled, flip them over.
Prepare the Icing
- Melt the chocolate in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine water and honey and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add half of the mixture into the sugar. Whisk until fully incorporated and smooth, adding more of the honey mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed.
- Stir in the vanilla extract. Add extra liquid very slowly to be sure that the icing doesn’t get runny.
Ice the Cookies
- Dip the cookies in the white icing and set them back on the wire rack with the iced side up until they dry. Fill in any gaps or thin spots using a small offset spatula while the icing is still liquid.
- Once all of the cookies have vanilla icing, stir the melted chocolate into the remaining vanilla icing. If the icing is too thick, stir in any remaining honey mixture 1 teaspoon at a time, until your icing reaches the desired consistency.
- Fill a decorating bag with a small amount of chocolate icing and snip off the end. Draw a straight line directly across the center of the iced side of each cookie.
- Using a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate icing over half of each cookie, filling it in up to the line.
- Let the chocolate icing dry completely before serving.
- To Store: Store up to 3 days at room temperature or 7 days in the fridge. Wrap tightly in plastic or store in an airtight container.
- To Freeze: Freeze up to 3 months in an airtight container or a double-lock freezer bag. Separate layers with parchment paper. Let thaw in the fridge overnight and serve at room temperature.
More Classic Cookie Recipes
- The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- Classic Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies
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