SMiLes by Meg

Black and White Russian Cookies

You know you’ve found some great friends when they show up at your apartment, start rooting around in your cabinets, and ask if there’s enough time for them to bake a batch of cookies before taking off on a 6 day vacation sure to be full of kitchen time. That’s what happened on Wednesday when a couple friends from college showed up (Happy Birthday, Marj!).

From there, the four of us drove up to New Hampshire to meet up with two other college friends and spend the week cooking, hiking, skiing, and hot tubbing. This is a trip I’ve only been a part of for a couple years, but has been going on since graduation, and I think is a pretty amazing thing that we’ve kept up. We’re all in different parts of the country, doing very different things, but have managed to set aside this time in the winter to spend together, seemingly against all odds.

We got a whole bunch of snow on Thursday, so we declared it an interlodge day (after a brief sojourn to Portsmouth to tour some brew pubs) and I had time to bake a batch of cookies myself. Because we had plenty of interesting liquor around, I went with a boozy spin on a contentious classic: Half Moon Cookies, which New York for some reason insists are called Black and Whites.

I think the main difference between a Half Moon and a Black and White is the icing. Half Moons use buttercream frosting (always the right decision), while Black and Whites use more of a royal icing (not nearly as decadent). Because this recipe called for the latter, and because I like the inclusion of “White Russian” in the name, I’m allowing these to be called Black and Whites, but outside of this recipe I stand by my commitment to Half Moons.

First, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all purpose flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. I only had confectioners sugar, so that’s what I used, but you should be using granulated here. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and Kahlua. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden around the edges and tops spring back when pressed. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, to make the icing, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of water, and white chocolate liqueur until smooth. Separate in half between two bowls. Two one half, add the cocoa powder and remaining 1 teaspoon of water and stir.

When the cookies are completely cool, ice half of each with the plain white icing and the other half with the chocolate (like a half moon). All icing to harden.  Serve immediately, or store covered at room temperature. These go stale quick, so make sure you eat them within a day or two!Feel free to try different liqueurs to taste. I can imagine Bailey’s would be great in these, or Frangelico, or really anything in the chocolate/coffee/nut family. Enjoy!

Black and White Russian Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua (or coffee liqueur)

Icing

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons white chocolate liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all purpose flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for three minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and Kahlua, and beating well after each addition.
  5. Drop the batter by the heaping tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes or until edges are golden and tops spring back when pressed.
  6. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of water, and white chocolate liqueur in a medium bowl until smooth.
  8. Transfer half of the mixture to a smaller bowl and add cocoa powder and remaining 1 teaspoon of water, stirring to combine.
  9. Ice the flat side of each completely cooled cookie, half with the white and half with the chocolate icing.
  10. Allow icing to harden before serving.

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