The Cookie Jerry Seinfeld Made into a TV Star
Jerry Seinfeld is almost as beloved in New York City as the Black and White. This cookie is found everywhere from the corner bodega to that most upscale of bakeries, William Greenberg. Seinfeld used it to make an interesting commentary on race, of all things. You can click on the link and see what we mean. Scented with vanilla, almond, and lemon, this cake-like cookie has a fine crumb and velvety texture. It’s achieved by using sour cream in the cookie batter. But the piece de resistance of a Black and White is, of course, its icings. Vanilla and Chocolate. That classic combination makes up the glazes to be eaten both in one bite or separately, take your pick. Best eaten within 24 hours of baking, this 125-year-old cookie is New York’s own.
Made in New York since 1902
Unlike most recipes that are claimed by multiple chefs, the Black and White is traced exclusively to Glaser’s Bake Shop in Yorkville on the Upper East Side. Owned by Bavarian immigrants, it opened in 1902. Yorkville was then a German enclave. Before it became the posh place it is now, it was a middle-to-working-class neighborhood. While there were Czechs, Slovaks, Irish, Polish, and Hungarians living there, the Germans predominated as did German foods. John and Justine Glaser’s recipe dates from the very opening of their Bake Shop and it was their original recipe, one of many created by the Glasers. The Black and White has close cousins—like the Half-Moon cookie baked in Utica, NY. That cookie dates from 1925. So the Glasers get full credit for its invention. Sadly, after 116 years, Glaser’s closed for good in 2018. The Black and White lives on. It even found its way back to Germany by way of American GIs in the 1950s. There it was called the Amerikaner although it’s most often only iced in white.
Some Black and White advice from Andrew
The word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koekje” which is pronounced nearly the same as its English counterpart. It means “little cake”. And the Black and White is more cake-like than what we generally think of as a cookie. With Black and White’s quality counts. The temptation to buy the saran-wrapped, mass-produced version at the deli cash register may be strong. But don’t give in to it. They’ll set you up for an oversweet headache. Go out of your way to find a traditional bakery where, unwrapped, you’ll get the real thing. Or better yet, make them yourself. And here is the recipe to do so, followed by some other great cookie treats.
Black and White Cookies from Melissa Clark
Scented with vanilla, almond, and lemon, this cake-like cookie has a fine crumb and velvety texture.
- For the cookies:
- 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup/80 milliliters sour cream or whole-milk yogurt
- ⅓ cup/80 milliliters whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons/200 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- For the glaze:
- 2 ½ cups/300 grams confectioners’ sugar
- Boiling water, as needed
- 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 ½ ounces/70 grams unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Step 1 Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds, and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sea salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and almond extract.
- Step 3 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Step 4 Reduce speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the sour cream mixture. Repeat until both mixtures are incorporated, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary. (Mixture will be the consistency of thick pound cake batter.)
- Step 5 Dollop heaping 1/4-cup scoops of batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. (You should have 12 to 14 cookies.) Bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets. Continue to bake until the cookies have firmed up and spring back when lightly pressed in the center, 6 to 9 minutes. (They’ll brown only on the bottoms.) Take care not to overbake, or they will dry out.
- Step 6 Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 15 minutes, then transfer cookies directly to racks to cool completely.
- Step 7 While the cookies cool, make the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons boiling water, the corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Continue to whisk, adding more boiling water as needed, until you have a thick yet spreadable frosting that is the texture of hot fudge sauce. (Too thick is preferable to too thin.) Flip each cookie over and spoon glaze over half of its flat side, spreading to edges with the back of the spoon. Place on a wire rack to set. You will have vanilla frosting left over.
- Step 8 Whisk melted chocolate into the vanilla frosting, then whisk in the cocoa and enough room temperature water to make a thick yet spreadable glaze. Glaze the bare half of each cookie. Let glaze set for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.