Deli Favorite: Black and White Cookies

This Jew loves dining at a great deli.  My absolute favorite is Brent’s in my hometown of the San Fernando Valley (you caught me, I’m a Valley Girl) but also high on my list are Langer’s, which hands down serves the best pastrami I’ve ever had, Canter’s, because who doesn’t love matzoh ball soup at 3 a.m., and another Valley classic, Art’s.  After my go-to meal of lox, smoked white fish and whipped cream cheese on a bagel, accompanied by a bowl of matzoh ball soup or a knish or some kugel, I always always always run by the deli counter on my way out and buy a Black and White Cookie for the road.

Aah the Black and White Cookie, the racially harmonious yin and yang of a cookie that’s not really a cookie at all but more of a “drop cake.”   A large round lemony cake with crispy sides topped with chocolate and vanilla fondant.  Likely originated in New York, nobody sums up the beauty of the black and white better than Jerry Seinfeld, of course.

Though always a favorite, I’ve never tackled them myself, until recently when I was asked to provide a dessert for H+M’s barbeque.   Not having that much in my house, I looked for a recipe that didn’t require a trip to the store and wouldn’t you know it, the black and white cookie came through.  The New York version can’t really be called a black and white unless it’s about 5″ in diameter, but I didn’t think the guests would want to dine on a cookie bigger than their hand after filling themselves with carne and pollo asada tacos, so I parted with tradition and made mine about half that size.

They’re quite easy to make, see recipe below, but frosting them takes a little time and patience.  If you crave this deli favorite like I do, or even better, if you’ve never had the pleasure, give these babies a try.  Maybe peace and harmony will follow if we heed Jerry’s advice and all “look to the cookie.”  At least it will in your kitchen.

Black and white cookie

Mini Black and White Cookies

Serves 18
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Dessert



  • 1 1/4 cup Flour (All-purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Flavoring (Lemon flavoring has oil in it and works better than lemon extract)
  • 1/3 cup Buttermilk (If you don't have it, use 1/3 cup whole milk plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice, stir and let curdle for 10 minutes before using)
  • 1/3 cup Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)


  • 2 cups Powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz Bittersweet or unsweetended chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons Corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Boiling water


Black and white cookies are a New York deli tradition.  In the delis you'll find gigantic 5" versions.  My versions here are about half that size.

Adapted from various recipes, including Smitten Kitchen and Epicurious.


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a cup, stir together buttermilk, lemon flavor, and vanilla.
3. In a larger bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well.
4. 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 but do now overmix.
Using a #40 cookie scoop (1 1/2 tablespoon capacity) scoop batter about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet lined with silpat, parchment paper, or sprayed with non-stick spray.
6. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, about 12 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and let sit or chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.
First make white icing. Put powdered sugar in heatproof (glass) bowl. Add boiling water about 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring well in between. You shouldn't need to use more than 1/3 cup of boiling water. You want the icing to be nice and thick but spreadable, if it's too thin it won't adhere to the cookie in a thick layer. [Optional: I like to add a teaspoon of lemon flavor to give the icing extra kick.] Once the cookies are completely cooled, and working quickly, ice 1/2 of the cookies using an offset spatula. Support bottom of cookie carefully so it doesn't break in your hand. Stir icing if it thickens up on you. You should use up about half of your icing. The other half will be used for the chocolate icing.
Next make the chocolate icing. Place remainder of icing over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Add chopped up chocolate and corn syrup. Stir well until chocolate is fully melted, then add cocoa powder (the cocoa powder will make the chocolate icing darker). If the icing is too thick and clumpy, add a little boiling water (1 teaspoon at a time) and stir well until it's glossy but still thick. Work quickly and spread chocolate icing over the other half of the cookies. You can add boiling water to your icing (1 teaspoon at a time) if it thickens up on you to return it to the glossy consistency.
Cookies are best eaten the day they are made. Or place in airtight container and eat within 1-2 days.


  1. Those look great, if I get the time I might add this to my cookie stash for Christmas gifts, unesls you post something more delicious looking before I get to them!

  2. Thank you Thomas, these would be perfect for Christmas gifts!

Speak Your Mind