Saturday, September 13, 2008

47. Black-and-White Cookies (p. 666)

As any fan of Seinfeld will remember, this recipe plays a pivotal role in the classic episode, "The Dinner Party." While on an unsuccessful quest for a chocolate bobka to bring to a dinner party, Jerry spots a black-and-white cookie in the bakery's display case. He can't resist getting one and rhapsodizing on how the cookie is an allegory for racial harmony. "I love the black and white," he says, "Two races of flavor living side by side. It's a wonderful thing isn't it?" "Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate," he goes on, "And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved." But Jerry's idealism is dashed when the black and white halves of the cookie can't get along in his stomach, bringing an end to his fourteen-year vomit-free streak. But even if these cookies aren't the answer to society's problems, they are delicious.

The base of these tasty treats is a cake-y, tangy buttermilk cookie batter. I've already complained about how much I hate it when recipes call for a small amount of buttermilk. Well, I think that I've discovered the answer to my problem. While wandering up and down the baking needs aisle of my local mega mart, my eyes were drawn to the friendly smile of a mustachioed chef on a tub of powdered buttermilk. Powdered buttermilk?!? With a little bit of water, I can instantly have any amount of buttermilk called for by a recipe. No more wasted buttermilk for me! Once the cookies are baked and cooled, it's on to the best part: the icing.

The icing is simple and delicious. It's just confectioners' sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla extract, a little water, and the key ingredient, lemon juice. Divide the icing in half, and add some Dutch-process cocoa to one half, and leave the other half as is. (I'm still using my non-Dutch Hershey's cocoa. My local mega-mart only sells Hershey's and a store brand of unalkalized cocoa.) Start by frosting one half of each cookie with the white icing. Then frost the other half of the cookies with the chocolate. As the frosting dries, the black and white frosting kind of merge together at the margin making a perfectly smooth and shiny icing. These were some good-looking cookies, if I do say so myself.

Not only were these cookies good looking, they were tasty, too. The cookies have a nice cake-y texture and the buttermilk gives them a nice tang. The icing is sweet and cool, and the lemon juice gives them an unexpected brightness and zip. The only problem with the recipe is that it only makes eight cookies. They're big cookies, but all the same, once they were gone, I was already wanting more. So, if you're looking for a treat, this is a great one to try. And as Jerry Seinfeld said, "Look to the cookie, Elaine. Look to the cookie." Maybe we can learn something from these cookies, but at the very least, it's delicious to try.

Date Cooked: August 30-31, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

1 comment:

The Mediocre Cook said...

Those do look delicious and since I haven't baked any cookies yet for my project, you have given me a craving that might just change that.