Take Me Away
I make all sorts of different cuisines. I think it comes with the territory of being a military wife and taking note of the climate and area you live in. Learning new things also comes from military men sitting down at our table for dinner, reminiscing about a certain something they used to eat at home. Try as they might, they are unable to find it tasting right where they are currently stationed. I take on “challenges” as I like to call them to bring their senses back to the place they come from.
There’s something about a taste of something that takes you home isn’t there? Every time I smell roast beef I am instantly transported back to my grandmama’s dining room table. Dish up a bowl of my mom’s chili and it doesn’t matter what state or country I’m in… I’m at my mom and dads.
Two years ago, The in-laws had some sort of mid-life something and packed up their house in New York and moved across the country to Bozeman, Montana. It hasn’t been easy for them. They had visions of wide open spaces, clean air, low humidity and a generally slower-paced life. The In-Laws are through-and-through New Yorkers, making this new lifestyle very difficult. They are like fish out of water, trying to flex their gills and learn to breath again. The In-Laws absolutely love Montana, but they miss the life they had in New York. Perhaps someday they’ll move back. Who knows?
A year after The In-Laws moved to Bozeman a job opportunity arose in Helena, so they packed their bags and headed to Helena. I don’t think they expected to miss Bozeman as much as they do. A few weeks ago The Father-In-Law and I were talking about random things and he told me about this cute bakery on Main Street in Bozeman. Apparently, the cute little Baker-Lady there makes Black & Whites. The In-Laws would run in to the bakery asking if the Baker-Lady had any black & whites and each time they were met with disappointment. They would ask, “What days do you bake them?” to which the Baker-Lady replied, “Oh, I don’t know… every other day or so.” So on the stalking search went until they moved to Helena. The real kick in the butt came a few weeks ago when The In-Laws were visiting Bozeman. The Father-In-Law looked at The Mother-In-Law and said, “I’ve got a good feeling about this. We’re going to get Black and Whites today.” They marched to the door of the bakery to find a woman walking out the door taking a bite of the most beautiful Black & White they’d ever seen. “Aha!” The Father-In-Law said, “Black & Whites! I knew it! Take me to New York in a single bite…” The Mother-In-Law marched up the counter and said, “We’ll take 2 Black & Whites please.” The Baker-Lady looked at her and said, “I’m so sorry, miss. I just sold the last one.”
If you could see me, you’d know that my face is red with repressed laughter. I had tears streaming down my face as The Father-In-Law regaled me with countless stories of stalking visiting this bakery hoping to get a glimpse of the New York he knew and loved. One bite. That’s all he wanted. One bite of New York. They’ve given up on pizza (naturally) and are resigned to buying pre-packaged kielbasi. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the Black & White, but this is what I’ve heard…
Back in the 1940’s, a bakery in New York had a little extra lemon cake batter left over and decided to add a little more flour and make cookie dough. Flipping the cookies over after they baked, the Baker Dude then decided to try a chocolate frosting and a white frosting on the cookies. Not liking either by itself, he frosted half with chocolate, half with white… thus creating the Black and White.
Today, you’d be hard pressed to not find Black & Whites in almost every deli, bakery and coffee shop in New York. I do think it’s somewhatof an acquired taste. These cookies are not sweet. They do have a hint of lemon… and they’re frosted with chocolate.
I work with a couple of people from New York (well… technically, they’re from New York- but The Husband says they’re practically Canadian being from so far upstate. The Co-Workers also call these cookies “Half-Moons”… which is just crazy talk!) so I decided to make a double batch of this recipe. I took the comments into consideration, studied several different recipes from several different websites but ultimately decided to give the Allrecipes a try. The recipe read: Yield 2 dozen. Ahahahahahahahaha! No, no, no, no, no, no it doesn’t! Maybe TWELVE dozen? Oh, don’t forget… I doubled the recipe! I currently have about 200 Black & White cookies stashed in my deep freeze.
Give these cookies a try if you’re from New York, been to New York and fortunate enough to try… or if you have lonely little airman or soldier from New York that wants a little taste of home. They got 2 thumbs and 2 toes up from The Husband (he ate EIGHT last night… oh, to have the metabolism of a man!)
Black & Whites
Adapted (thanks to the comments) from Allrecipes.com
1 c unsalted butter
1 3/4 c sugar
1 c milk
1/2 t vanilla
1 t lemon extract
2 1/2 c cake flour
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
4 c confectioner’s sugar
1/2 c boiling water (at least)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon extract.
Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture.
Drop tablespoonfuls (this will make the cookies about 4″ in diameter which are smaller than the real deal) of the dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon, slightly smoosh down the dough, making it round and sorta-flat.
Bake until edges begin to brown, about 15-18 minutes. Cool completely. Brush each cookie with your fingers to remove any crumbs. Remember, you’re frosting the bottom of the cookie!
Place confectioners sugar in large bowl. Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable. Add more than the indicated amount if needed.
Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir in the chocolate. Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts. Remove from heat.
With a pastry brush*, coat half the (bottom side) cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with the white frosting. Set on waxed paper until frosting hardens.
*I did the white first, as it’s easier to cover up white with black than it is black with white.