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Black & White Cookies

Prep time: 2 hrs 0 min
Cook time: 7 mins
Calories: 340

This recipe was originally published in 2013.

Sometimes called half-moons or headlights, these cookies have been popular for over 100 years, mostly in New York City and New England. As a child, I was very sad that they sold out every day at our local bakery. Now you can easily make as many as you wish at home for a fraction of the cost.

Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to make sure the batter mounds are round and measure about 3 inches across before they’re baked. Cookies will be almost 4 inches across after baking. Cool them, flat side down. When completely cool, flip them flat side up to glaze.

For Egg-Free Vanilla Soft Cookies, omit 1 egg. Mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes until thickened. Then add to wet ingredients. Increase baking time by 2 to 3 minutes, as necessary.

*NOTE: Corn syrup adds shine to glaze but does not impact taste.

These elegant vanilla cookies are the basis for a variety of other sweet treats. The recipe calls for rather large cookies (4 inches across) but they can be made smaller for little hands and fewer calories per cookie. Adjust baking time accordingly.

Each cookie without icing contains 180 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 14g sugars, 1g protein, 22Est GL.
Yields 24 cookies


  • 1 (15-ounce) box gluten-free yellow/vanilla cake mix (heaping 2 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, or non- hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1 extra-large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon flavoring (not lemon juice)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2-4 tablespoons very hot water
  • ½ teaspoon light corn syrup, optional*
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-4 tablespoons very hot water
  • ½ teaspoon light corn syrup, optional*
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2Remove cake mix from box. If mix weighs more than 15 ounces, pour it into a small bowl, stirring to break up any lumps. Measure out 2 heaping cups (be generous) and place into a large mixing bowl. (Set remaining mix aside for another use.)

3Cut butter or shortening into pieces. Add to cake mix, along with egg, milk, vanilla and lemon flavoring. Mix together on low speed just to incorporate ingredients. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute or until mixture looks smooth and all ingredients are well combined. Using a silicone spatula, fold mixture from the bottom to incorporate any remaining dry ingredients. Let batter sit for about 5 minutes to fully hydrate the dry material. Give it one more fold. Batter will be very thick.

4Using a ¼-cup ice cream or cookie scoop, carefully place 6 mounds of batter on each baking sheet, making each one circular in shape (about 2½ to 3 inches in diameter). Using a clean, wet finger, smooth batter and flatten just slightly. Cookies will spread while baking.

5Place 1 baking pan at a time on the center rack in preheated oven. Bake about 6 minutes and rotate pan. Bake about 5 to 7 minutes more or just until the edges start to look slightly golden. Cookies should barely have any color but a toothpick should come out clean. Repeat with the other baking sheet. Let cookies cool for a minute on the sheet pan. Then carefully remove to a rack to cool completely before adding icing or filling, if desired.

6To make the white cookie icing, sift powdered sugar into a medium-size bowl. Gently (avoiding air bubbles) stir in very hot water by the tablespoon just until the glaze runs slowly off the spoon but still seems very thick. Add corn syrup, if desired, and vanilla. Stir gently with a small spoon to combine. Let mixture sit for a minute while you set up the cookies. Stir before applying the glaze. If it is too thick, add a little bit more hot water.

7Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet to catch drips. Turn cookies to their flat side. Using a spoon and an offset spatula, apply white icing to one half the cookie. Make sure you apply enough icing so that it is completely white and you cannot see the cookie through the icing. Let these set while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

8For the chocolate cookie glaze, sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Sift cocoa powder into the bowl. Stir to combine. Add very hot water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir until mixture is smooth, lump-free and drips slowly off the spoon but is still rather thick. Add more water as necessary. Add corn syrup, if desired, and vanilla. Stir gently to combine.

9Using a spoon and a clean offset spatula, apply the chocolate glaze to the other half of the cookie all the way to the white glaze and even slightly overlapping for the best look. Avoid dripping chocolate glaze on the white icing.

10Place iced cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking rack and let them harden completely. This will take at least an hour, depending on humidity and temperature; don’t refrigerate cookies or the shine will be lost. Don’t stack cookies until the next day when the glaze is thoroughly dry.

Each serving contains 340 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 18mg cholesterol, 204mg sodium, 72g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 54g sugars, 1g protein.