Classic black and white cookies are a mainstay of New York City shops and bakeries. Bursting with vanilla flavor and boasting a super soft texture, these large cake-like cookies are topped with thick vanilla and chocolate icings.
This New York City-style black and white cookie recipe comes from the highly talented, knowledgeable, and influential team over at America’s Test Kitchen. The first time I worked with them was to help promote their Naturally Sweet cookbook a while back. (Remember those chewy chocolate chip cookies with unrefined sugar? Delicious!)
ATK’s latest cookbook – The Perfect Cookie – is dedicated to something we ALL have in common: a deep love for cookies. There’s 250 cookie, brownie, and bar recipes packed inside!
Tell Me About these Black and White Cookies
- Texture: These are super soft and cakey cookies with a thick, creamy icing. The combination of cocoa powder and milk make the icing thinner than the coating on peanut butter half moon cookies, and it crackles when you bite into it like the glaze on these glazed doughnuts and chocolate pop tarts.
- Flavor: The cookie itself has the flavor of basic vanilla cake, but the icing is the star here. Thick, sugary sweet, and of course vanilla and chocolate flavor.
- Ease: Don’t be intimidated! This black and white cookie recipe is a lot easier than I originally thought. You’ll need a few special ingredients like corn syrup and sour cream, but the rest of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.
- Time: There’s only about 25 minutes of prep work, but you’ll need to let the icing set so the icings don’t run together. The great news is that this cookie dough doesn’t require any dough chilling. See all of our no cookie dough chilling recipes including our giant chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and shortbread cookies.
Recipe Testing: What Works & What Doesn’t
What I love most about ATK’s The Perfect Cookie cookbook – and what I know you’ll appreciate as well – is the comprehensive breakdown of each recipe. Why it works, how it works, tips, tricks, lessons, troubleshooting, and more. It’s the book for the baking nerd in all of us. Here are a few of the things that really worked in these black and white cookies:
- All-purpose flour: America’s Test Kitchen tried to make these cookies with cake flour at first (because they are supposed to be cake-like cookies), but the cake flour made the cookies too crumbly. For best results, use all-purpose flour.
- Salt: After I tried my first test batch, I found the cookies to be cloyingly sweet. Obviously they’re intended to be sugary cookies, but increasing the salt to 1/4 teaspoon helped balance out that sweetness.
- Sour cream: We’re confident sour cream is the secret to perfect homemade black & white cookies. This ingredient creates that iconic texture. It also reacts with the baking soda to produce enough lift in the cookies. (You’ll also need baking powder. Remember the differences between baking powder vs baking soda and why some recipes call for both?)
Overview: How to Make Homemade Black and White Cookies
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it quickly so you understand each step before we get started.
- Whisk dry ingredients together. This includes flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix wet ingredients together. Cream butter + sugar together first, then add eggs + vanilla extract.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream. Expect a very thick batter/dough.
- Scoop + bake. Using a greased ¼-cup dry measuring cup, scoop 1 mound of dough per cookie onto your baking sheet (no more than 6 cookies per sheet). Bake until the edges are lightly browned.
- Make the vanilla icing. Whisk confectioners’ sugar + 6 Tablespoons of the milk + corn syrup + vanilla extract + salt.
- Make the chocolate icing. Transfer 1 cup of the vanilla icing to a separate bowl. Whisk in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of milk + cocoa powder to make it chocolate.
- Frost the cookies. Using the flat side of the cooled cookies, spread vanilla icing on one half, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Then spread chocolate icing on the other half and refrigerate for 1 hour until completely set.
So, which half of the black and white cookie do you prefer – the chocolate or the vanilla? Get your ingredients ready because we’re about to find out!
Homemade Black & White Cookies Video TutorialPrint
Black and White Cookies
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours (includes icing setting)
- Yield: 12 large cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
From the cooks at America’s Test Kitchen, here is a carefully tested and surprisingly easy homemade recipe for New York City style black and white cookies.
- 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), or more as needed, see note*
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 Tablespoons (145g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (80g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature*
- 5 and 1/2 cups (660g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (measure before sifting)
- 7 Tablespoons (105ml) whole milk, divided
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons (15g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Reduce to low speed and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream. Beat everything on low until combined and no pockets of flour remain. Batter is extremely thick.
- Using a greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, drop mounds of dough 4 inches apart on prepared baking sheets– 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
- Make the icings: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, 6 Tablespoons milk, the corn syrup, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Transfer 1 cup to a separate bowl, add remaining Tablespoon of milk and the cocoa powder. Whisk until combined.
- Spread vanilla icing onto half of the cookies– the flat side. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set so that the icings do not bleed into each other. Spread chocolate icing onto other side and allow the icing to set completely, about 1 hour, before serving.
- Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You’ll want to bake this cookie dough right away as the baking powder is initially activated once wet. You can, however, bake the cookies in step 4, cool completely, cover tightly, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days before continuing with step 5. Frosted or unfrosted cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving or frosting.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheets | Cooling Rack | Cookie Icing Spatula
- Room Temperature: Room temperature ingredients are important. The butter will curdle if some of the batter ingredients are colder than it.
- Batter Consistency: If your batter isn’t super thick– thick somewhere between cookie dough and pancake batter- try adding an extra 2-3 Tablespoons of flour before scooping and baking. The cookies spread too much if the batter isn’t thick enough.
- Sour Cream: Use full-fat sour cream in this cookie batter. Full-fat plain Greek yogurt works as well, but you’ll get the most tender texture from sour cream.
- Cocoa Powder: You can use either natural-style or dutch-process cocoa powder in the icing. It doesn’t matter since there is no leavening occurring. (Here’s more on Dutch processed vs natural cocoa powder.) I prefer dutch-process or a darker cocoa like Hershey’s Special Dark.
- Recipe reprinted in partnership with ATK from The Perfect Cookie
Keywords: Black and White Cookies
Reader Comments & Reviews
My chocolate icing didn’t come out as dark or black, any ideas on what I might have done differently?
Hi Tracey! It could be the type or brand of cocoa. Hershey’s Special Dark is fantastic if you’re looking for a darker hue.
The cookies turned out exactly like they should. I used 3/4 cup sugar in the cookies themselves because I like things a little less sweet. I also cut the frosting recipe in half and had the perfect amount of frosting for the 12 cookies. Added extra cocoa powder too because I like it to taste like dark chocolate.
I have made these cookies before, and usually wrap individually as to not let them stick together, but now want to put them on a cookie tray. How do I keep them from sticking together for a party here on Long Island in June? Thanks for any advice you may have.
Hi Emma, the corn syrup will help the glaze set so that you can stack them once they dry. However they still might melt a bit if left outside in the June heat so try not to leave them in the direct sun for too long!
I have tried other recipes, but this one is the only one I make now. They come out perfect every time. I am making them now for my adult sons birthday gift. What else can you give to someone who can buy anything he wants?? Moms cookies! I use a medium scoop and the recipe makes 18 cookies. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
Excellent black and white cookie!
Made these today!! Just like a bakery. But I only got 9 cookies – I guess I made them too big but just wonderfully delicious!!
This happened to me, too, and I wasn’t even sampling the dough (was wearing a mask while baking for friends!). Are other people experiencing this? For those who do, are you also at high altitude? Either way, the cookies were yummy!
Sally, you are wicked!! How on earth do you stay so slim!! You are my FAVORITE baker!!!
I’ve been enjoying these cookies for as as I can remember. To think that now, thanks to you has made one very happy lady. ( I have hooked my grandchildren on them too.). Thank you!!!!
Black and White cookies were never my favorites as a child, and my mother worked in a bakery. I made these as a gift for an old friend who loved black and whites as a child. After making these, of course I had to try them before I sent them off. Well, I have to tell you that only half of the batch ever got to my friend. I was very tempted to keep all of them. They are really that good. Thank you.
During the Holidays I made a batch of these to send to a dear friend and former New Yorker. These B&W really brought back memories of childhood. It was hard to send my friend any! When my friend called to thank me, she couldn’t believe I had made them. Better than Zabar’s.
I’m so glad you and your friend enjoyed them so much, Dorothy!
Can heavy whipping cream be substituted for whole milk for the icing?
Yes, your icing might be thicker but it should work.
Can I make them into mini black and whites? Thanks
Made these today. Perfect recipe as always! Thanks!
Thank you for this recipe
The cookies came out perfect but my icing is clumpy and not mixing . What am I doing wrong ?
Make sure that you are sifting the sugar for the icing and use a whisk to mix it up. You might just need to whisk it harder/longer!
These are so good! I made them and they look and taste so homemade-y and special! They also remind me of “pink cake”, a traditional Dutch delicatesse. I used only half the icing as I didn’t have enough icing sugar but it still covered them all! They taste good from room temperature but stay perfectly good in the fridge too! I did tell my husband its a once-a-day-cookie 😉
They are big and filling!
I used homemade full cream yoghurt but I will definitely try them with sour cream as well. Thanks!!
I baked these last night and also experienced the same issue with the cookies coming out flat. My batter was nice and thick and all ingredients were room temperature. The only thing I deviated from was that I used low fat sour cream rather than full fat. Was that the culprit for flat cookies? I’m sure they will taste delicious but I’m disappointed that they won’t be thick and puffy like they are supposed to be. I will try again and chill the dough as others have suggested.
Hi Allison! Did you see the note about the flour? I strongly suggest full fat sour cream as well.
I was also having issues with the cookies coming out flat, so for the third batch, I kept adding extra flour until the batter was quite stiff. (I used the gram weight measurement to start.) I then put the batter in the fridge while the oven preheated. This resulted in puffy cookies, though not quite as nice as the ones in Sally’s photos. I left half the batter in the fridge overnight, and made them the next day. Now those cookies looked just like the pictures and are light and fluffy inside. I don’t think there’s any issue with the recipe, just somehow my batter was too wet and soft.
TL;DR for flat cookies, add extra flour and chill dough.
Tried this recipe twice back to back, I thought I had to of screwed up some where! But both batches came out exactly the same…I thought I forgot some of the flour because I only came up with 10 1/4 cookies, that spread and turned into one cookie, but it happened with the 2nd batch as well. The butter wasn’t too soft and the egg at room temp along with sour cream and vanilla. I had to use yogurt on the 2nd batch, but it still came out the same. Not sure what went wrong..Was really excited to try these, I read the entire post but should I use cake flour?
I wonder why the ATK tested recipe won’t work for some! If the batter doesn’t look super thick, you can always try to add a little more flour or chill the cookie dough before scooping. Thank you so much for the feedback on their recipe, Brittany! I’m going to add the adding the extra flour to the recipe note. 🙂
Sally, these cookies are absolutely delicious. I made them yesterday and they were gone in no time! I am a huge fan of your recipes and this was the icing on the cake. I live in NY and love black and white cookies; readers trust me, this recipe is a must!
Hi Sally! I had the same issue as Laura. It came out somewhat flat not like your pictures. This is not the first time doing something from your blog and I followed it to the T, am I missing something? The batter was thick but not like super thick. It looked like the batter I use for my cake so idk maybe I should add more flour? Thanks.
It should be extremely thick batter. How about your butter– was it very warm/too soft?
I was so excited to see your B & W cookie recipe – one of the things I really miss from NY. I am sure I followed the recipe to the letter but the cookies came out really flat (still delicious, but flat). Not sure where I went wrong. 🙁 Any suggestions?
Unfortunately, corn syrup is not available here where I live (the Netherlands), but I dissolved 1.25 c sugar into .25 cup water. The glaze seems OK.
Hi Laura! How was the batter? Was it extremely thick? With all that flour and zero liquid, it should be exceptionally thick. And the butter– was it soft but still cool to touch? You don’t want it greasy at all.
These look amazing! If I wanted to make these smaller than the recommend 4 tablespoons what would you suggest the cooktime be for half the size? 7-8 min.? Thanks in advance!
I’d say at least 10 minutes still.