July 30, 2010

Black and White Cookies

There are many recipes I've been keeping from you lately but it's more out of blogger lazyness than a real desire to keep them hidden.  There are some Vegan Chipotle Veggie Burgers, an Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Broccoli Pesto, yummy Buckwheat Granola and, oh yeah, these Black and White Cookies.

I decided to share this one today because, well, it's the best looking and I guess I'm superficial like that. I was  so happy with the way these cookies turned out.  Instead of being 'brown and white,' which was a momentary fear, and instead of sloppy lumpy frosting or wonky elliptical shapes, to me, they looked New York bakery-style authentic.

I made these with a great friend from high-school (and fellow baking enthusiast) and we both thought the texture (cake-y cookie, smooth hard-when-set frosting) was pretty spot on.  Though Black and Whites aren't the most flavorful cookie (our families reminded us of that when they tried them), we both thought the taste was nearly identical to those that you'd buy from a local bakery.  The cookie was tender with a very subtle lemon-y undertone and the chocolate frosting was quite good.  The white frosting, however, could be improved and I've added suggestions for doing just that to the recipe below.

Overall, I thought these cookies were a big success and if you're someone who takes pleasure in time consuming and precise recipes (like me) then I think you'll find them a joy to make.

Black and White Cookies 
Makes about 32 medium-large cookies

For Cookies
Barely adapted from Gourmet

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest (or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract)
3 large eggs

For Icing
I think adding a 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest or an 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract to ONLY the vanilla frosting might help the flavor even more.  If you decide to do this, make sure you split the frosting mixture in half (note in prep. before adding in the lemon, otherwise you'll also have lemon-y chocolate).
Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water
[I needed at least 2/3 of a cup added over time]
3 ounces very bitter or unsweetened chocolate

1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (optional)


For Cookies
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add the lemon zest and 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.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter (I made my cookies slightly smaller than this for a more manageable size) about 2 inches apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet using the back of a spoon or your finger to shape them into neat circles.  Bake in middle of oven until the edges begin to brown 15 to 17 minutes (for large cookies). Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool.

For Icing
Boil a cup or so of water in a small pot. Place confectioners’ sugar in large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Gradually stir in enough boiling water to the sugar to make a thick, spreadable mixture. Err on the side of caution because a too-thin frosting is hard to undo. Leave remaining boiling water on the stove.

Mix in the vanilla. (If you're going to add lemon zest or extract to the white frosting, split the confectioners sugar/water mixture in half at this point and only add the lemon to half) Spread frosting on half of the flat side of each cookie (the side that was against the baking sheet). Once all cookie halves have been frosted, place the bowl of the remaining frosting over the hot water and bring it back to a simmer (creating a double-boiler). Stir in the bitter or unsweetened chocolate until melted, as well as the light corn syrup.

Ice the remaining half of the cookies with the chocolate frosting. I find that the chocolate frosting is especially prone to getting too dry, so don’t worry about whisking in an extra teaspoon or so of that hot water from time to smooth it back into a shiny frosting.

Let the frosting set. Store in an airtight container. These cookies keep for a few days, but are best on the first or second. Because of the cake nature of the bases, they can get stale quickly.

No comments: