Saturday, May 23, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Black and White Cookies, New York Style

In the Coronation Chicken post I mentioned that the recipe had been sent from a relative in Malta to my Ma in New York while Queen Elizabeth was being crowned.
Well, recipes also went from Ma to her relatives… including me.

Favourite foods are often picked because of memories rather than fancy ingredients.
That’s the case with Black and White Cookies.

The IRT Flushing Line was major in my life.
Ma and I rode it when we went to Manhattan to shop during the 50s.
I rode it daily to connect to the train to my college in Brooklyn in the 60s and 70s.
Paul and I used it as our main form of transportation when we were dating.
I also used rode it daily when I worked in Manhattan.

Throughout all those years there was one constant - a tiny bakery kiosk by the staircase leading to the street in the subway terminal in Flushing.

As the saying goes… location, location, location.
Commuters would grab a quick breakfast on their way to work.
After a long work day, nothing hit the spot better than a black and white cookie.

It was vital to New Yorkers.
It was ours, it was unique, it was beloved.

Black and white cookies really are a New York icon.
They were mentioned twice on the New York based TV show Seinfeld
Jerry used the cookie as a metaphor for racial harmony.
He said that people should Look to the cookie!
Of course we knew which cookie.

Bette Midler - yes the The Divine Miss M!  - told Kramer: 
If I don't get a black and white cookie, I'm not going to be very pleasant to be around!
I hear you, Bette.

A few years after we moved to Canada I suddenly missed my old B and W cookies.
It was one of those things that was always there.
And then it wasn’t.
Until Ma sent me the recipe!

                        Black and White Cookies

makes 24 cookies

Line two cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper


In a medium bowl combine 
2 1/2 Cups cake flour
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a large bowl
1 Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 Cups sugar
Beat until it is light and fluffy.
4 large eggs
1 1/2 Cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Beat until well combined.

Add about a cup at a time of the flour mixture to the wet mixture, stirring well between each addition.

Preheat the oven to 375° F

Drop a heaping tablespoonful of dough for each cookie onto the cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. 
Spread each spoonful of dough gently into a circle. 
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a pale golden. 
Remove the cookies to a wire rack.
Let the cookies cool completely before icing.


In a large bowl place
4 Cups confectioners’ sugar
Stirring constantly slowly add a little at a time
1/3 to 1/2 Cup boiling water
Just add enough to make a thick, smooth paste.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir in.

Put a medium sized heat-proof bowl in a a small saucepan of simmering water.
In it place
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Stir the mixture until the chocolate melts.
Add half of the vanilla glaze.
Stir the mixture until it is smooth and thick.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, but keep the bowl in the hot water so that the glaze doesn’t harden.

Use a small spatula or butter knife to spread the white glaze on half of each cookie.
Spread the chocolate glaze on the other half of each cookie. 
Allow the glaze to harden and set for 30 minutes before serving.

Store in an airtight container.

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