Side by Side in Harmony

There was a really good kiddush at synagogue a few weeks ago. It was for one of the half dozen bat mitzvahs we had there this fall. First, I should say that the bat mitzvah girl did an outstanding job. It was clear how hard she’d worked because no one can be that flawless without practicing for many, many hours.


And because her parents and family really value the community, they shared her bat mitzvah with the entire congregation. It was great: Lox and whitefish! I remember a bagel panzanella and a wonderful green bean and tofu salad. There was a pizza bar and Caesar salad table. Bottomless pink lemonade. A build-your-own cupcake bar — something that I’d been planning for Lilli’s 3rd birthday.

I will say the one thing I was disappointed in was the black and white cookie. I know, I know, he had a hat. But having that mediocre cookie reminded me that I’ve been sitting on this perfect black and white cookie recipe for more than a year.

It’s from my friend Carla’s dad. I made it last year and was blown away, but I never got around to posting it. I was actually sitting down to tell you guys about a pumpkin whoopie pie that I’ve been making for years, but now it’s December and that feels a bit too late in the season. And so I have this black and white cookie, which fits in nicely on a cookie tray this month.

People who’ve had the cookie remark on the intensity of the chocolate on the black half, but I’m all about the white side, and this icing is the perfect balance of vanilla and lemon. The crumb is just right: sturdy, solid, but still very soft and moist.

The cookie and the icing are actually from two different recipes. For the cookie Carla’s dad uses the King Arthur recipe, because, as he explains, “it produces a large and “thinner” cookie, more like the version sold in New York.”

bea and rooster

The icing recipe is from Gourmet, and it is spot-on. Now yes, I do know I’m giving you a recipe with corn syrup in it, but it’s only a tablespoon, and, come on, how often do I ask you to use it? This recipe needs it. Sorry.

I realize some of you probably came here looking for a Chanukah recipe. Well, I can tell you that I will most likely serving these latkes and mac and cheese this weekend. And probably this olive oil cake. And most likely these black and white cookies.

Black and White Cookies

The Cookie – From King Arthur’s Flour

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon lemon oil or 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large eggs

4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup milk (regular or low-fat; not nonfat)


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

To make the cookies: Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon, and vanilla till well combined.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the flour alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Do this gently; there’s no need to beat.

Using a muffin scoop or a 1/4-cup measure, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. With wet fingers, or the wet bottom of a measuring cup, flatten/spread the dough to a 3″-diameter circle. Leave 2″ to 2 1/2″ between each cookie; they’ll spread.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they’re set, and are perhaps a very light golden brown around the edges. If there’s no sign of brown, that’s OK. Cookies baked for 10 minutes will be quite moist. Cookies baked for 12 minutes will be drier, and more “authentic.” Bake for 11 minutes for an in-between cookie.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them right on the pan. As they cool, prepare the icing.

Icing from Gourmet, February 2002


1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 teaspoons water

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder


Stir together the confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, ½ teaspoon at a time, to the same consistency as the white icing.

Ice Cookies:

Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over the other half.


4 thoughts on “Side by Side in Harmony

    • Lemon for this one. Have you used orange? I always think of lemony vanilla when I have these cookies. I actually have orange extract in the house, and now I’m curious how they would turn out.

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