Black and White Cookies

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.

overhead image of black & white cookies

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 that crackles when you bite into it. (Sort of like the glaze on doughnuts.)
  • 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.

stack of black & white cookies

The Perfect Cookie cookbook from America's Test Kitchen

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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. 

  1. Whisk dry ingredients together. This includes flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together. Cream butter + sugar together first, then add eggs + vanilla extract.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream. Expect a very thick batter/dough.
  4. 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. 
  5. Make the vanilla icing. Whisk confectioners’ sugar + 6 Tablespoons of the milk + corn syrup + vanilla extract + salt.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.

cookie dough in a glass bowl

cookie dough on a baking sheet before baking

cookies with vanilla icing on half and a glass bowl of chocolate icing

black & white cookies

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 Tutorial

Print
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black & white cookies

Black and White Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • 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

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 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*

Icing

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing BowlsSilpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheets | Cooling Rack | Cookie Icing Spatula
  3. Room Temperature: This is important. The butter will curdle if some of the batter ingredients are colder than it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 the difference between the two.) I prefer dutch-process or a darker cocoa like Hershey’s Special Dark.
  7. Recipe reprinted in partnership with ATK from The Perfect Cookie

174 Comments

  1. Chris Carson says:

    Hi! I love these!! Making again for a party. I know it states I can freeze frosted or not, what do you recommend- I can’t decide which?? Will be in freezer for 2 1/2 weeks
    Thank you!!!

    1. For a party I would freeze them with the frosting on so you have less work to do the day of the party! Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. 🙂

  2. Omg I’ve tried so many recipes for black and white cookies and these are simply incredible!
    I kept it dairy free, used half shortening, half margarine, and almond milk with a little lemon juice instead of sour cream. I also added a bit of lemon extract to the batter and icing.
    These cookie melt in your mouth! I can’t believe I can make such an amazing version at home!
    Definitely the best ever. Thank you Sally:)

  3. I’d like to make a single giant black and white as a “cake”for a retiring friend. Any advice? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Toby! How about using my one layer cake recipe as the base, then adding these icings to it?

  4. My only complaint is that the notes say this cookie will last in the freezer up to 3 months… they did not even make it to the freezer, leastwise lasting 3 months. HA!!

  5. I did my research, looked at a few different recipes, finally chose Sally’s because my daughter has had so much success with everything she has tried from you. As a professional pastry chef I’ve been impressed as well. These black and whites…? Nothing short of amazing! I had to put them through true testing too, of course. Why should I let it be easy? Lol. First round I used fine cake flour and adjusted for high altitude baking because that’s where I live and these are cake-like cookies. Not a bad cookie, nice flavor but not exactly right as they spread too much and were too thin. Second round, kept high altitude adjustments but used regular AP Flour as called for in recipe. Whoa! No spread, lots of rise, just a bit too much, still taste delish. Sure enough, third time’s a charm (I’ll stick to the recipe as written) perfect taste, perfect size, perfect cookie! Icing seems a little thick but I’ve learned my lesson, I have faith in Sally…and for good reason! Cookies are a hit and everyone raves about them. No one is interested in waiting long enough for the icing to harden anyway!

    1. I loved reading this, Tricia! So much fun to test variations of this recipe 🙂 Thanks for your positive feedback!

      1. Tricia Ann Frei says:

        You’re welcome! And thank you too! I’m now a very loyal fan! ❤

  6. I’m hoping to make these for family later today. You mentioned the cookies are big! How big are they? Would i be able to make them smaller for the kids?

    1. Hi Mary! You can scoop the dough smaller so each cookie is smaller. (Perhaps 2 Tbsp of dough per cookie.) The bake time will need to be slightly reduced for the smaller size.

  7. Jan Spofford says:

    Holy COW these are great! First time making. Wanted to try them since I’ve been bingewatching Hart of Dixie on Netflix and she is always getting black and whites delivered from NY. Very easy recipe. Came out beautiful and glossy icing and SO yummy! Did exactly as recipe said and no changes or issues. As usual, your recipes are the best. My friend thinks I channel his long departed Jewish grandmother when I make your rugelach.

  8. If I were to make a ‘mini’ version of this and bake it at 350- how long do u think it would need to bake? Like if I did half of the 1/4 cup?

  9. These are huge! But are delicious, however, it took my cookies almost triple the amount of time to bake! I underestimated the size of those things, thanks for the recipe!

    1. Yes, they are giant cookies! 🙂 You can absolutely make them smaller if you would like next time.

  10. These are delicious and beautiful cookies, Sally! I love how soft the cookies came out and the two tone icing is lovely. I did end up with a great deal of extra icing on both colors though. I’m not sure why.

  11. Hi Sally, is there any way I can sub out the corn syrup and still get the glaze to harden and set? Merengue powder perhaps? Can I make a simple syrup at home? I’m excited to make these today!

    1. Hi Sara! Homemade simply syrup works– or even honey. 🙂

  12. I made these twice. Both were very very good. The first time I made them, I had to cook them for about 20 minutes and they were super moist and light. The second time, I made larger cookies, baked for 18 and they were overcooked a little. WEIRD. Also, I have a question about the flour amount. I’m a baker and always try to weigh in grams. I did the scoop and swipe method and weighed out the 1 3/4 cup flour. I got about 260 grams each time. So I went with that weight rather than then measuring cup version. Any thoughts on that?

  13. Hi Sally,
    My husband & I are originally from NY and we love Black and White cookies.Imade you’re ipeand they were absolutely delicious ,very close to the ones we used to buy at our favorite Long Island bakery.
    My frosting came out very thick and did not spread on smoothly but frosting was shiny and as I mentioned they were DELICIOUS.
    Love your recipes and blog! Thanks for all your dedication and hard work !

  14. I grew up in Oneonta, NY (upstate New York), where Decker’s Bakery was legendary for their Half Moon Cookies, I loved the chocolate ones with buttercream frosting, do you have any suggestion on how to modify your recipe to include cocoa powder? Also, is the dough too thick for a hand mixer? I so looking forward to making these!

    1. Hi Carol, You can use a hand mixer here! Unfortunately cocoa powder isn’t an easy swap in a recipe so without testing it I can’t say for sure which ratio of ingredients to use to make these chocolate.

  15. just made these….they came out perfect and taste great! I really enjoy using Sally’s recipes.

    I’m thinking of making mini ones, but will this in any way change the flavor? if I do decided to make mini ones, what size scoop will work?

    1. So glad to read this! You can make smaller cookies, around 2 Tbsp of dough each. Or even a 1.5 Tbsp cookie scoop works, too. The flavor won’t change, but the baking time will be shorter.

  16. Debbie Braunstein says:

    The cookies came out great, but the icing was thick and not shiny. Also the white was light brown, not white. The vanilla colored the white. What can I do to fix the icing?

  17. So I have a few things first these cookies are huge which is okay but I didnt know they would spread so much and I really would have preferred normal sized cookies so I would clarify these these are huge cookies second dont grease the container using flour is much better because it won’t end up making the cookies greasy. That’s it the one fourth cup thing was werid but over all they’re good cookies and I enjoyed making them.

  18. I have not made these yet, but I have a question about the icing. I’ve made Glossy royal icing with corn syrup and have always found it cloyingly sweet. The recipe for the icing sounds fairly similar to the royal icing I made but with a but more milk. What does the milk do? Does it help balance the sweetness?

    I’ve tried other B&W cookies but the white icing seems to be my stumbling block as it never really tastes like the bakery version.

    1. Hi Kim, I agree that royal icing made with meringue powder is very sweet! This is more of a glaze with the milk so the end result is fairly different as it’s a bit more creamy and not as crunchy as royal icing. Let me know if you try these what you think!

  19. Merri Stephenson says:

    Hi Sally,

    I am dying to try these cookies!

    I had two questions but think I’ve got one answered from reading the other comments. Two ingredients not available where I live are corn syrup and sour cream. I see that I can make homemade simple syrup to use in place of corn syrup, but what I can I do about sour cream? I normally substitute with crème fraiche, but when I tried using it in ‘Sour cream sugar cookies’ they turned out bland. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Merri! Try using plain yogurt in place of the sour cream.

  20. Thank you for this recipe, I LOVE B&Ws, grew up with them in NYC! The first time I made them, they were near perfect, but I just made them again, and they came out a bit flat, they didn’t quite get the dome shape. Any ideas why that might have happened?

    1. Hi Vanessa, How was the taste and texture? The first thing I would do would be to check your baking powder and baking soda to make sure they are fresh!

  21. These were fabulous! I like them larger so made 8 cookies rather than 12. Also, I thinned the frosting with a little more milk and used piping bags – lines and edges came out super-straight! They looked (and tasted) like they came from a bakery!

  22. I can’t wait to try this recipe for a game night I’m hosting this Friday! Can I put both cookie sheeted in the oven at the same time? One on one oven rack and one on the rack below!

    1. Hi Lane, If you stack your cookie sheets I recommend rotating them half way through the bake time. Enjoy!

  23. I recall a lemon flavor in the Black and White cookies from Dean and Deluca in NYC. Can I use 1/2 lemon extract And 1/2 vanilla for flavoring?

    1. Yes, you can try that Mary! Let me know how they turn out!

    2. Lemon ruins a totally good black and white. A true black and white cookie has no lemon in it whatsoever and is better without.

  24. Can I freeze these after I have iced them?

    1. Yes, Frosted or unfrosted cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

  25. I made these Black and White cookies last night. I made a double batch of the cookies and a single batch of frosting ( still had leftover frosting). I made the cookies smaller . I baked on silicone baking sheets. When I removed after cooling for 5 mins the bottoms were uneven when left to thoroughly cool bottoms were smooth. I started frosting the tops and then remember to frost the bottom. A soft moist cookie who’s frosting isn’t “gaggy sweet “. My friends and family enjoyed them.
    I’m looking forward to making them for tailgating with the frosting in the color of my nephew’s college colors.

  26. Dianne Fishel says:

    Hi,
    I made this recipe several times and the cookie taste and icing taste great. I had the most success using my Kitchenaide for the icing to prevent bubbles in the frosting. The cookies looked like yours with a dome shape the first time that I made them, but they went flat the second and third time that I made them. I weighed the All Purpose King Arthur flour. Any idea why the cookies went flat?

    1. Hi Dianne, If they worked the first time but not after that, I would check your baking powder and baking soda. It’s recommend to replace them every 6 months, although I usually replace mine after 3 months as I find they lose strength after that.

  27. Very good! Quick question though; my cookies were so flat and the White icing was see through even with a thick coat. Any suggestions?

  28. Lizz Bender says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I followed it to a T (measured all the ingredients with a scale), and have a few thoughts
    -my icing was so thick and not at all spreadable – I had to warm it over boiling water to get it to the point where I could ice the cookies. Reading some of the other comments, it seems like I’m not the only person to have this issue
    -the vanilla icing did not taste good. It tasted mostly like sugar and salt as opposed to the vanilla flavor that NY black and white cookies typically have
    -the cookie tasted great though!

    I think I’ll try these again but try something a little different for the icing

  29. Hello,
    Looking forward to making these!! I do not have whole milk, can I used half and half creamer instead? Or should I wait until I go to the market later in the week and get whole milk?

    1. In a pinch, you can use half-and-half in the icing.

      1. I couldn’t wait! So I made them with half and half last night and they were amazing!! The vanilla was great but the chocolate was unbelievable. My family licked both bowls clean (even with tons of leftover icing)!

  30. Judy Alexander says:

    Delicious. Makes way too much icing for the # of cookies, but I don’t mind. I just put it on other things (like my fingers!)

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