6.17.2014

THE GREAT COOKIE QUEST / ROUND TWO


Over the weekend we went to check out William Greenberg, a bakery on the east side that's reported to have THE black and white cookie of our lifetime. Naturally this got me very excited, because like most things in life I take my black + whites terribly seriously. ;) There's a whole lot of factors you gotta consider when you're rating a good black + white, it's not at all like a chocolate chip, which is a very subjective situation, because there is no such thing as a crispy black + white that could still be a good black + white. You can't experiment with pulling them out of the oven early to get a chewier consistency, you're not allowed to substitute Nutella for the chocolate ganache or sprinkle salt on the top, none of that. None of that!

Anyway the east side is super weird. It's like bizarro land over there, very traditional and stuffy, all manicured topiaries and lion door knockers snarling at me as we pass. I feel completely out of place on the east side, me with my flat chest and distinct lack of Tory Burch. I tell you what, the east side side has way bigger boobs going on than the west side does, and also I own precisely zero tennis skirts. 

All of this got me thinking. We've been needing a real black + white to call our favorite. You know, something legitimately New York-y. There's only so much Starbuck's b+w you can take before you start to feel like a fraud. And also, you know, a girl's gotta have a hobby. 

So, roll your drums, kids!
It's The Great Cookie Quest! Round Two! 
The Black + White Edition! 
Brought to you by!... nobody. But that part of the intro felt important.
(Dude should I get my cookie quests sponsored by somebody? Maybe Keebler? Lol.) (Lol?)
(trumpet cadence). 

Get crazy excited, guys. It's way more fun that way.


A little bit about the black + white, for those of you not from around here:

- It's not really a cookie. It's a cake. "Drop cake," because the batter is firm enough to be dropped onto a cookie sheet for baking.
- It is rumored to have been invented in upstate New York.
- The black/white design is said to be a reference to the medieval symbol for the midpoint of the lunar cycle, making it a sort of nod to New York's northern European history.
-The black side of the cookie is (duh) chocolate.
- Originally the white side of the cookie was vanilla buttercream, but these days you're most likely to find vanilla fondant. Some bakeries still do the buttercream. It just makes them messier.
-The cookie should dome a little in the middle, and the black should be slightly taller than the white.
-The base of the cookie should be moist + spongey. The texture is really key. And also the white side SHOULD NOT BE HARD. I get so sad over dried out whites.
-The lemon in the recipe shouldn't overwhelm the cookie, but the perky zip should be noticeable enough to counteract the sweetness of the glazes. 
- Of note, Henry Holbrook calls them "brown + white cookies." 

read more about it here and here and here and here.


And now for the good part. I like to keep things scientific. So we'll use numbers in addition to the usual spiritual soul searching that goes on with me where desserts are concerned. Rating 1-5 style.

THE BLACK / 4 / This black wasn't as fudgey as some of the blacks I've had, which is why this didn't get a full 5. My favorite thing in the world is when the black is so fudgey that it stretches a bit when you pull it apart.
THE WHITE / 5 / Five five five! Soft, subtle, not too sweet, soft! Usually when you unwrap a b+w, you gotta to go real slowly over the black side so you don't mess it up, and then the white is all dried out and crackly and slips out easily. For this one, we had to go reeeal slooow aaaall the waaay acrossss. Satisfying.
THE COOKIE / 5 / It was perfect. Perfect! Chewy, springy, all of it. This is gonna set the bar real high. I think I said, "Good hell, Brandon!" three or four times. Mild cursing is how I know I like something. 
THE  TOTAL / 14

I'd love suggestions on bakeries to include! On my short-list: Glaser's, Nussbaum + Wu, Ess-A-Bagel, and Joyce Bakeshop (because some CBS something or other put them in the top 5). Who else??  (I will also be attempting a DIY-er for this one.)

A happy b+w to you and yours, and remember: Look to the cookie, Elaine. Look to the cookie!


Previous cookie quests found HERE.

52 comments :

  1. i've never even heard of a black and white! i know, awful, right? i'm on the west coast, hopefully that merits somewhat of an excuse. are they actually called black and whites at starbucks? i might have to run over and try one since i don't have the slightest idea where else i would get my hands on (a better) one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a non-billionaire resident of the East Side, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It's totally weird up here. You know why all the boobs are bigger on the East Side, right? Right?

    I am officially the worst New Yorker in the world because I only eat the black part of the black and white cookie. I know, I'm the worst. Now I will admit to going to Sprinkles cupcakes more than is totally healthy, and I am not even ashamed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ohhhh I am excited to hear your + Henry Holbrook's reports. Love me a good b + w cookie.

    I recently went to Austin for a friend from here in the city's wedding and whatdoyaknow - they served black + white cookies. A proper nod to NY if I ever saw one ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. i owe you my life for this one. come with me on the next taste test!!

      Delete
  5. love this! love black and white cookies oh so much.

    www.modernsuburbanites.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Definitely Nussbaum & Wu! They taste better if you eat them while sitting and people-watching on the Low Library steps at Columbia across the street, preferably after an Absolute bagel for lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  7. every good cookie is deserving of it own righteous quest. my hope is that there is a snickerdoodle {or at the very least, oatmeal} quest in your future.

    p.s. your rating breakdown is awesome. the descriptions are very giada de laurentiis, less the whole talking-with-your-mouth-full which, by the way, is very much appreciated! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. B&W cookies, references to how crazy the East Side is and the word bizarro...Jerry would totally approve of this blog post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lassen & Hennigs in Brooklyn Heights on Montague - THE best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes!!! in my old hood! i forgot all about that place. adding it!! xo

      Delete
  10. Really love that subtle little tattoo on your forearm by the way! I tried a b&w cookie when I was in New York a few years ago, but it tasted like something completely different to what you're describing here... I think that is good enough reason to get back to NY :-) Ailish Goes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! and boo! i've had some b+w that are not at all right, at all, and it's a total crime against humanity when that happens.

      Delete
  11. This west coast girl has never had one, but my east coast soul knows I swear by them. It's odd having an east coast soul that's never been there, but in November I'll be there eating black and white cookies and standing "on" line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it will be love at first sight for you, i just know it. :)

      Delete
  12. Artie's Delicatessen 83rd and Broadway. The end.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is embarrassing to admit I watch the Bachelorette in this blog/temple of awesome here on the interwebs, but there was a hilarious moment on the Bachelorette this season where a bachelor did a cookie tasting during his first one-on-one time and told the Bachelorette to "look to the black & white cookie" and I was sold, #MarquelforBachelor

    ReplyDelete
  14. can't wait to add these places to my list when i go next month!

    ReplyDelete
  15. attempting to make a b+w at home has been on my list for months, since i now am midwest stuck and can't find a good one any-where!
    and plus also--dress details?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mmmm that looks so good. I have learned in my baked goods conquest in NYC to not be deceived by appearances. Those in the window baked goods always look so good but most of the time they are not. The good stuff is always hidden! Also, just FYI since the new blog design it cuts off the whole right side of your blog on my screen. Not sure if it is doing that for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it does that cutting off for me too!

      Delete
  17. Black and white cookies have been my fav since I was a kid :) but I've never had a good one that was wrapped up like that. They're always just sitting on a tray in a bakery and I either eat it right away or it gets wrapped up in wax paper or in a brown baggy. Because when they're made fresh from a bakery, the frosting would stick to that plastic wrap, right? I'm giving this too much thought....

    ReplyDelete
  18. Black and white cookies are my favorite. The first time I heard about them was via the seinfeld episode! The first I had a black and white cookie is when I visited New York City with my mom and it was amazing! I went back to the shop we bought them in and bought three more and rationed them out, haha. Truly the best cookie.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey Natalie! I lived in NY for two years on the UES and if you get a chance, you should stop by Glaser's Bake Shop on 88th and 1st. It's been around for over 100 years now (I think 112?) and it's family owned. They make the best black and white cookies I've ever had. I know- hard to imagine coming from the UES, but I think it's worth the trip.

    ReplyDelete
  20. These are the best. I have a recipe for them on my blog, although I'm sure mine aren't very authentic.
    Love this post and Huck's face with his cupcake. Too cute.
    You guys are the best and keep a smile on my face.

    http://www.babyboybakery.com/2012/07/black-white-cake-cookies.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've only ever had a Starbucks variety black and white cookie, being from Alabama and all. Have you ever run across a good b&w cookie recipe? I love to bake so maybe I should add that to my repertoire!

    ReplyDelete
  22. ahhhhh... after years of following your adventures I am sorry to say that I am signing out. My heart is breaking but I feel a little bit ditched as if you've left something behind and embraced something new. This new thing is not for me but I will genuinely miss the old thing. Thanks for the smiles and I wish you well. peace out (said in Kip's voice of course)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I had never even heard of black and white cookies until I read about them on your blog but in the spirit if curiosity I baked some up and fell in love. I think you'd have been disappointed as my white was a little dry but having nothing to compare them to, I thought they were pretty alright. When I next make it to NYC I'm going to come back to your list as my your guide so good luck in your quest for baked perfection! X

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am so thankful for that little cookie description going on above because I had no idea what it was #australianwoes . Also, I love that hat and tat. Hat tat nat? Basically it's all great. xx jemima

    ReplyDelete
  25. As a life-long resident of Upstate New York, these have been a staple cookie for as long as I can remember. That being said, I am surprised that I've never known the history of this treat! I've never heard of them being referred to as a black and white cookie (cake...) - always, always a half-moon cookie. Makes even more sense now that I know a little on the back story. You're my idol!

    ReplyDelete
  26. The mere mention of a black and white cookie brings to mind Seinfeld. Every time. And gosh this look like the best kind of test. Totally subjective and wonderful. l will refer to this list each and every time we visit New York. (And can I just say how much I loved your Portland posts? We are moving there from NH next month and it has become my go-to for fun places to visit... places I might not find on my own for some time. Invaluable.)

    ReplyDelete
  27. had no idea it was a cake really. i work in midtown so I dont know if ill make it up there on a lunch break, im desperate to try that cupcake atm and i love laduree so its would be tough to add a cookie to that day too lol

    ReplyDelete
  28. I feel strongly that you should go DEEP into Brooklyn for this one! My two recommendations:

    1.Tasty Pastry: 8218 13th Ave Brooklyn
    2. Mona Lisa Bakery: 7717 13th Ave Brooklyn

    I have about a million recommendations of other things you should also eat at these places, so hit a sister up if you go :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Interesting! Another one of those intercultural discoveries... I didn't even know they existed in the US although they are actually called Americans in Germany. When I was little I actually thought the name referred to black and white people being part of the US... no idea where this came from but I guess I made it up long long before I learned and understood a bit more. I though it was quite a romantic idea (everyone happyly together lalala) but now that I write it down and think about the frosting, mmmh not so good... so back to the cookies: I really have to make NY our next holiday destination! Thank you for your writing, I enjoy it a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I've only ever had the ones from Starbucks. Sad. I tried to make some at home a few weeks ago...fail. Looking forward to your recipe if you make a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  32. where is your dress from?!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm not mormon but are loving not having so many clothing constrictions. Nothing beats a summer dress!

    ReplyDelete
  34. You loving that should have said

    ReplyDelete
  35. You loving the dress that should have said

    ReplyDelete
  36. At least give credit to the original writer's article of said cookies(which are among my fave things in life, as a native NYer)

    http://ny.eater.com/archives/2014/06/the_blackandwhite_cookies_curious_history.php

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read a few articles that all said the same thing, but i'm sure that link was one of them. was certainly not attempting to plagiarize ;).

      Delete
    2. While I really enjoyed this piece (who doesn't love a cookie hunt!), I agree with Susan that you may wish to throw some links in there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using other articles for inspiration and information, but here there are some very direct paraphrases from the article Susan listed above, and paraphrases - intentional or not - still count as plagiarism. It's really easy to internalize wording from other articles, so it's always best to err on the side of listing everything you've consulted for information when writing. That's what bibliographies are for! In this case, however, direct citations are the most appropriate way to deal with what are near-quotations.

      Embedded links would do just fine! And I'm sure that readers interested in learning more about these cookies would love to have more culinary history under their belts as you move forward in your hunt for the best black-and-white cookie.

      Delete
  37. love your voice with the snarling lions & such . . . so great

    looks like you still had a lovely time exploring, though?

    your shoes are a-dor-a-ble toooooooo cute

    i hope you have a beautiful day

    xoxo,

    the bbb blogger

    --> thebippityboppitybeautifulblog.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. cute post!
    www.agoprime.it

    ReplyDelete
  39. This post is so cleaver and witty and is the perfect example of why I love your blog so, so much. Thanks for keeping it real. I will be stopping by Starbucks just ASAP to try my first B&W.

    ReplyDelete
  40. It seems like we have a different Natalie since your thoughts about religion post, and I have to say, I love it! Not to say that you weren't before but you just seem so... at ease? I can't put my finger on it! Your tattoo looks fab too, you're totally tempting me into getting one haha I just wondered if you think you will try coffee or wine or anything now?x

    ReplyDelete
  41. You have the most adorable posts! And Huck has the most adorable watermelon bike helmet!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Doughnuts inspired by your favorite cookie... thanks to Joy the Baker, always.
    http://joythebaker.com/2014/07/black-and-white-baked-doughnuts/

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated because mama ain't no fool.