Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Black and White Cookies

I've been feeling fairly unmotivated lately with respect to baking.  Nothing seems to really capture my attention.  I think part of it comes from the fact that I did a lot of it over the holidays and I feel a bit burnt out.  I scoured all of my cookbooks and then through my list of saved recipes and baking to-do's and still, nothing really stood out.  It was sad.

I want to bake but maybe it's just too soon... Or so I thought.  Last night I had a budding inclination to make something.  I still felt just so so about the idea but I mustered through my lackadaisical countenance and found at least one thing that gave me some inkling of motivation allowing me to break out my mixer's paddle attachment.  And for whatever reason that inkling of motivation manifested itself in the form of black and white cookies.  I mean the idea of making them just popped into my head without any discernable suggestion.  But I went with it.

Admittedly, I see black and white cookies around quite a bit but never pick one up. Although, they always appeal to me. They have the best of both worlds--both white and chocolate icing.  At the same time they remind me of those yellow smiley-faced cookies they sell at gas stations and convenience stores.  And those I'm not into so much.

Actually, those are appealing too--mostly because of all of that icing they have slathered over them--but they're also fairly disappointing to me. The cookie is usually too hard and the icing tastes like nothing.  So I just assume that the black and white cookie will be that way too.  Yet, what I began to understand from some of the recipes and background information on the black and white cookie is that it's actually supposed to be more of a cakey cookie. Obviously this threw my mind through a whirlwind.  I was confused.  Distraught.  Everything I had assumed about these cookies was suddenly askew.  Luckily I rebounded quickly and just made the damn cookies.

As promised they were cakey and soft--not necessarily as I expected them to be--which was good. The icing on the other hand wasn't much to write home about--it's sugary sweet and good of course but it's not like it's the most amazing icing you'll ever taste.  There weren't any added flavorings added to the white icing side and the chocolate just tasted liked chocolate icing--good but well...sugary.  In the end, the thing I took away most from the black and white cookie is that it's a simple cookie.  It's a good simple cake-like cookie.  There's not much flair to it.  It's iconic.  And it's black and white on top.

Recipe slightly adapted from: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9434-black-and-white-cookies 

I halved the recipe which made about a dozen 3 inch cookies.

What you need for the cookies:

175g granulated sugar
113g unsalted butter softened
2 large eggs at room temp.
3/4c whole milk at room temp.
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
140g cake flour
177g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt

To make the cookies, first preheat the oven to 375 F.  Then, line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Using a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda and salt together and set that mixture aside.  Next, in a large bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy--about 5 minutes.  Then add in the eggs, milk and both extracts to the creamed mixture and mix until fully combined.  Then in a few batches, add the flour mixture--mixing on low speed just until it is incorporated.  Once all of the flour has been added, remove the bowl from the mixer and begin scooping the spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheets. You'll want to scoop about 2 tablespoons of batter for each cookie and place them at about 2 inches apart from each other.  Finally, bake the cookies for about 17-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.  After they are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before icing them.

For assembly....

Make the white icing first using:

113g confections sugar
1/8c boiling water

In a small bowl, mix the boiling water and confectioners sugar until completely smooth.  Then spread some of the white icing over half of each cookie.  The quicker you work the better because the icing will start to harden as time passes--which will make it impossible to spread.

Then make the black/chocolate icing using:

113g confectioners sugar
1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/8c boiling water
1/2 tsp light corn syrup

Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water and stir until smooth and fully combined.  Working quickly--because the same will happen to this icing as well if you let too much time to go by--spread the black icing over the other half of each cookie.  Let the icing set and then enjoy the cookies!