Black & White Cookies

By Yankee Magazine

Mar 22 2013

New Yorkers may claim these cookies as their own, but anyone who grew up in New England with a decent bakery nearby probably has deep memories of these tender cookies with the chocolate and vanilla icings on top.

This recipe ran in the June 1999 issue of Yankee. Reader Helen Beatty Beal wrote, “During the hard-time 1930s, our family of seven lived in Boston. Papa was lucky to keep a low-paying job, and Mama made all our clothes, baked our bread, and planned each meal to stretch Papa’s pay. We always had nourishing but dull desserts, such as bread or rice pudding, gingerbread, or applesauce.

“Our summers were spent in a small cottage on Hough’s Neck, Quincy. The cottage had minimal cooking facilities, and desserts were eliminated except for very special occasions. I was sent to the Laurel Crest Bakery with 35c to purchase seven ‘Black-and-Whites.’ I’ll never forget how good these shop-baked goodies tasted, and I always associate them with special happenings and our wonderful, carefree summers.”

Note: Frosting the cookies while they are still slightly warm makes it much easier to spread the glazes.


about 2 dozen 4-inch cookies

For the cookies:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for baking sheets
1/4 cup salted butter
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 2 teaspoons vinegar)


Preheat oven to 375° and grease two baking sheets (or line with parchment paper). Set aside.

First, make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add one-third of the flour mixture, then briefly mix, then add one-third of the buttermilk and mix again. Repeat twice until all ingredients are fully combined.

Drop the cookie batter by the tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Bake until golden brown at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking.

For the chocolate glaze:


4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Meanwhile, make the glazes: For the chocolate, stir the cocoa, water, oil, and corn syrup together in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Set aside.

For the vanilla glaze:


2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the vanilla glaze, simply stir together the confectioners’ sugar, water, corn syrup, and vanilla until smooth.

When the cookies are done, transfer to wire racks to cool. While they’re still slightly warm (see Note), use a small off-set spatula to frost half of each cookie with the vanilla glaze. Let them dry for 5 minutes, then rinse the spatula and apply the chocolate glaze to the other halves.