Black and white cookie

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Black and white cookie
Alternative names Half and half cookie
Type Biscuit
Course Dessert
Place of origin United States
Region or state Northeastern states
Main ingredients Shortbread, fondant
Cookbook:Black and white cookie  Black and white cookie

A black and white cookie, or half and half cookie, is a soft, sponge-cake-like shortbread which is iced on one half with vanilla fondant, and on the other half by chocolate fondant. It is similar to a neenish tart, although neenish tarts are filled with a cream center, whereas a black and white cookie is not.

Notably, this style cookie is often seen as a particularly "New York" snack.

Although bearing a superficial resemblance to black and white cookies, halfmoon cookies, popular in Central New York, are made with a significantly different recipe. The traditional halfmoon cookie is a devil's food cake cookie with buttercream frosting, resulting in a cookie that is richer and moister than the black and white cookie. Halfmoon cookies are now also available with a vanilla cookie base.


Cookies of this style are collectively known as "Black and White cookies" or "half-and-halfs". In Germany they are called "Amerikaner" (American).[1] On October 19, 2008, Barack Obama dubbed them Unity Cookies at a deli in Hollywood, Florida.[2][3]

History and difference from half-moons[edit]

There is some confusion as to the origin of the black-and-white cookie. The half-moon common in Upstate New York and New England is sometimes confused with the black and white cookie but is made with a different recipe. In New York City, however, one will find only black-and-whites. None-the-less, while the two names are often used interchangeably, there are considerable differences between the two; most notably in the textures of the base and the icing, with black-and-whites having a drier, cookie-like base and fondant frosting. And with the cookie also being bigger than most half-moons.[4][5][6]

Half-moons originated in Utica, New York at Hemstrought's Bakery in the early part of the 20th century. Half-moons most often come with a chocolate cake base, dark fudge icing on one side and sugary white frosting for the "half moon" side. Hemstrought's also made a vanilla cake base with fudge and white frosting, as well as full 'vanilla moons' and 'coconut moons,' with either a chocolate or vanilla cake base. The original Hemstrought's half moons bakery closed their doors in 2011; they, however, still bake half-moons for local supermarkets, where they are still available.[7][8]

The typical New York City and Long Island black-and-whites have a vanilla cake base with fudge and white frosting.

In popular culture[edit]

In the Seinfeld episode "The Dinner Party", Jerry eats a black-and-white cookie while waiting in a bakery with Elaine. He compares the cookie to a metaphor for racial harmony and that people should "Look to the cookie!"[9]

See also[edit]