Sunday, April 21, 2013

BAKED Sunday Morning: Black and White Cookies

I am a New Yorker.  No matter where I have lived, whether it be Connecticut, Texas or now LA, I have always identified with and been at home in New York. Black and White cookies are one of those things that people always identify with New York and that you can get in every corner deli and bakery.  Unfortunately for the iconic black and white cookie, most of the ones that you buy on the street in NYC are dry, crumbly and generally tasteless with too sweet frosting.

These cookies are the total opposite of that.  They taste like what you want a black and white cookie to taste like, only better.  They are soft and flavorful with a slight crunch on the outside and a distinctly vanilla frosting and a distinctly chocolate frosting.  Neither frosting is too sweet and it is a nice compliment to the only slightly sweet cookie.  Someone once said that the key to a true New York City black and white is lemon zest in the cookie batter, which I think adds to the flavor and keeps them from being cloyingly sweet.

These were pretty simple to put together.  The batter is something between a cookie and a cake and you scoop it with an ice cream scooper to get large but not obscenely huge cookies.  After baking you mix up the vanilla frosting and then take half of that and mix in the cocoa powder for the chocolate side.  My frosting was a little drippy (as you can see from the photo) but it set up nicely and I was able to stack and store these with minimal trouble.  

I feel like black and white cookies are one of those things that seem like they would be a lot of work, but in the end are not.  I only used three bowls and a few measuring cups, a near record for a Baked recipe.  You can find the recipe here and be sure to check out what the other bakers did.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Sprang, and This Is What I Made

Monday was the first day of spring here in New York (in my very scientific definition, it's the first day that you could comfortably go outside without a coat). Don't worry, it's now back to 43 degrees and rainy, but for two and a half whole days, it was glorious. And how convenient - Monday was also the Oxford University Press bake sale to raise money for the wonderful organization New York Cares! I signed up to bring cake, and decided to make mini-bundts because a) they're adorable and b) they're easy to transport. Because they were going to be sold for money, I was very careful to grease and flour the mini-bundt pans so that the cakes would come out whole, which they so rarely do. But guess what? Every one of them did! I was inordinately proud.

Enough of the bragging, Rosenthal, tell us about the recipe! I miniaturized the excellent lemon lavender bundt recipe from Williams-Sonoma. And now I need to share the following exchange that my friend Joe Rim, who is a public school teacher in Philadelphia, had with one of his students:

Joe: I need to get a really good pot.
Student: WHAT?
Joe: Yeah maybe I'll go to Williams-Sonoma after school.
Student:...yo Rim, get me some, too.
Joe: No my dealer's name is not William Sonoma.

Anyway, this recipe tastes like spring. If I celebrated Easter, I would totally make it for Easter. The lavender flavor is so subtle and interesting, and the flowers are small enough that they don't interfere with the texture. Plus, I don't know if this was the glaze or the residual flour from the well-greased bundt pan, but the exterior had a nice l'il crunch to it. Plus, it smells great. So assuming spring ever comes back (fingers crossed!), I hope to be making it again soon. You can find the recipe
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