Turn a beloved cookie into a cake…the Black & White Cookie Cake will appeal to the child in you. The best part….chocolate & vanilla icing in every slice!
It’s no joke
So, my daughter’s husband’s brother was coming to visit for his birthday, and he wanted a cake. Was it a chocolate raspberry cake with chocolate frosting (my cake of choice)? Too pedestrian. White cake with pink strawberry frosting and rainbow sprinkles? For a 30-year old man, perhaps not. No, he wanted a cookie…a Black & White Cookie…I mean a Black & White Cookie Cake. So essentially, this cookie walks into a cake…
For the uninitiated (ok…me), a Black & White cookie are those you see in bakeries and corner delis that have black & white icing (one on each side) on a soft, cake-like cookie. Usually jumbo-sized, they have a slight lemony flavor that balances out the sweetness of the icings. For the record, these aren’t my go-to cookies when I head into a bakery (give me something in the rugelach family, please), but when they were kids, David & Erik (aka my Son-in-Law and the birthday boy) would have them on the train when returning from visiting their dad at work in New York City when they were kids, so…good times, good memories.
Apparently, turning this iconic cookie into a full-blown Black & White Cookie Cake is a thing, and quick search landed me on a recipe from Take a Megabite. Although this recipe was written to yield a 6-inch cake, I doubled the amounts to make a standard 9-inch cake. When you’re serving two over-6-foot men (and three other, shorter people), you want to be sure to have enough!
Another important tip – I used Wilton’s Bake-Even Strips to insure the baked cake layers stayed level. What do I mean? Well, you know when you bake a cake, it generally has a dome on top, and if you want to stack those layers, you have to level the cake by cutting off the dome, otherwise the layered cake sags (this effect was really noticeable when I made my Checkerboard Cake last year for our Super Bowl party). The doming happens because the outside of the cake bakes and sets faster than the inside, so the middle has more time to rise. The Bake-Even Strips solve this problem by insulating the outside of the cake, thus allowing the cake to bake evenly. End result…level cakes! (and there was much rejoicing) Bottom line: use these strips…you won’t be disappointed!
(Side note: At the Super Bowl this weekend, like with the World Series last summer, my new hometown team is facing my old hometown team…ironic, huh!)
Black & White Cookie Cake
- 1-3/8 cups all-purpose flour (5-3/4 oz, 158g)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz, 113g, 1 stick), softened (i.e. at room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar (7 oz, 200g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (4 oz, 112ml) (or 2 oz each sour cream & water)
Black & White Icing
- 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (6 oz, 170g)
- 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
- Lemon juice from half a lemon (about 1 Tbsp or less), to taste
- 1/4 tsp vanilla, add more to taste
- 2-4 tsp water
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (3/8oz, 11g)
- 1/4 tsp espresso powder
- Line the bottom of 2 (6-inch) cake pans with buttered parchment paper. Position rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Soak the Bake-Even Strips in cold water for 5 minutes, then rap around the outside of the cake pans.
- Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, mixing well.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until very soft and light. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk (or sour cream/water mixture), stopping and scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Beat in another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk, stopping and scraping again. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture.
- Scrape the bowl well with a large rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
- Bake the layers for about 30 to 35 minutes, until they are firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold onto racks to finish cooling before icing. Trim the top of each cake layer to flatten, if needed (but you won't need to if you follow my advice about the Bake-Even Strips...I'm not kidding, they really work!)
- Stir together powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth.
- Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.
Finish the cake
- Ice the bottom layer half white and half black and place the top layer on top using cake lifters.
- Frost the opposite sides of the top layer white and black so you’ll get both black & white icing in every bite.
- This recipe makes one 6-inch cake, but you can easily double the amounts to make a 9-inch cake
- I had ** just** enough icing when I doubled the icing recipe to cover the black and white sides, and that’s with really scraping up the last bits to get the cake covered. I suggest tripling the icing recipe, just to be safe (if you’re making the 6-inch cake, go with 1-1/2 times the icing recipe)
- Adding espresso powder to the chocolate icing came from a reader comment on King Arthur Flour’s Black & White cookies recipe…good tip
- Use a light hand with the lemon juice. You want the taste to be barely noticeable…it’s to cut the overwhelming sweetness of the icing without making it taste too lemony
- I’ve mentioned my buttermilk hack before: equal parts water and sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). You can also use 1 cup of milk, takeout 1 tsp and replace it with 1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar. The purpose is to give an acid for the baking soda to react with.
Since I didn’t have much experience with how Black & White cookies are supposed to taste, I was eager to see if Erik and David approved. The results were big smiles and lots of “yummm”-s. The cake was light and springy, and the icings were sweet without being cloying. Black & White Cookie Cake (like Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake) may be just the thing to serve a birthday boy (or girl) who has a hankering to eat a childhood favorite cookie as a cake. Hmmm…what other cookies can we play with? (stares dreamily off into space…)
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
p.s. The Earth has gone once more ’round the sun since I started this blog, my 2nd blog-versary, as it were. Thanks for your continued support for this, my labor of love. Here’s to another year of happy baking and happy tasting!