Count Basie and April in Paris fans might be smiling at the title of this post. I was in the car listening to that song last weekend while driving to Great Barrington to visit Isabella at her summer writing workshop.
So, when I sat down to write about my recipe for black & white cookies, yet again (I’ve written about them here twice since the recipe was published in 2014), Basie’s “once more, once” line came to mind.
A few people sent me the link to Melissa Clark’s video and recipe last week. I shrugged them off, truth be told, and didn’t bother to watch the video or read the recipe since I’ve had one I think is quite perfect right here. Then Matthew sent me the link yesterday with the message “Thoughts?”
He was challenging me to a duel with that one word. I mean, he had to know that link would lead to me baking a batch of black & white cookies at 9pm that same evening, and that he might very well be a recipient of at least a few of them.
What irked me most about the whole video was the over dramatic nature of it. Can the food community collectively agree to stop pretending we’re the first to discover water?
Mine is not the first black & white cookie recipe to be published, nor will it be the last. Home kitchens vary, as do skill levels. What works for one person may not be consistent due to variations in ovens if they’re not calibrated or seals are bad, and ingredients—seriously, ditch the baking powder in your cupboard if it’s open from last December and buy a new one. Not to mention, especially with treasured, regional recipes, favorites abound and they don’t necessarily align with all tastebuds.
The idea of anything being the best is so introspective it negates the meaning of the word on a larger level. Mind you, though, the url for this post claims my recipe to be the best because SEO rules on the internet, and that’s really the game Clark and the NYT were playing with that video. Maybe I’m just getting old and persnickety?
Now, back to the black & white cookie. In developing the recipe years ago, I decided adding melted chocolate was not the way to go for the icing. I find it hardens in a way not characteristic of the best black & white cookies I’ve eaten growing up in Brooklyn. One change I’ve made over the years, and have updated the original recipe accordingly, is to add a smidge of melted butter to the icing.
Just a tiny bit of melted butter allows the icing to stay soft even once it’s set. That’s the key when it comes to icing on black & white cookies. It should set soft-firm, it that makes sense. Not yield to the pressure when simply picked up, yet not give a definitive snap when you bite into it. A faint crackle of sorts. If you want a snap, maybe a little melted chocolate is the way to go for your desired outcome; it just isn’t my ideal.
I prefer to make these cookies in stages, often baking the cookies at night before bedtime. Let them cool completely, then layer between pieces of parchment (don’t skip this step or they’ll stick together!) and store in a sealed container. Fresh from the oven, the cookies are very cake-like and delicate, almost too delicate. Some resting time allows the crumb to set yet still retain their signature cake-like consistency.
Okay, folks that’s it from me (for now). Happy cookie baking! Get the recipe for my Black & White Cookies here.