Black & White Half Moon Cookies (no corn syrup!)

Hailing from every New York City corner deli, these cookies are the real deal crowd pleaser. They're also a delicious and beautiful way to celebrate the Winter Solstice.

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon lemon oil or 1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Vanilla Icing: 3 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Vanilla Icing: 3 tablespoons light agave

Vanilla Icing: 3 tablespoons hot water

Vanilla Icing: 3/4 tablespoons vanilla extract*

Chocolate Icing: 2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Icing: 3 tablespoons light agave

Chocolate Icing: 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Icing: 1/4 cup hot water

Chocolate Icing: 3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Make the cookies. Beat together the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, lemon, and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in the flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Do this gently; there’s no need to beat.
  4. Using a muffin scoop or a 1/4-cup measure, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. With wet fingers, or the wet bottom of a measuring cup, gently flatten the dough to a 3″-diameter circle. Leave 2″ to 2 1/2″ between each cookie; they’ll spread.
  5. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they’re set, and are perhaps a very light golden brown around the edges. If there’s no sign of brown, that’s OK. Cookies baked for 10 minutes will be quite moist. Cookies baked for 12 minutes will be drier, and more “authentic.” Bake for 11 minutes for an in-between cookie. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them right on the pan.
  6. In the meantime, make the vanilla icing. Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, agave, and hot water. For a nice vanilla flavor, add the vanilla; for whiter icing, omit it.
  7. When the cookies have completely cooled, spread the icing over half of each cookie. Place them on a rack to set while you make the chocolate icing.
  8. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, agave, vanilla, and hot water, stirring until smooth.
  9. In the microwave, or in a bowl over heating water, melt the chocolate. Add the melted chocolate into the sugar mixture, stirring until well combined.
  10. Spread the icing on the uncovered half of each cookie. You’ll have a generous amount of icing, so don’t be afraid to pile it on. Set the cookies back on the rack, and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes, until the icing is set.
  11. For best storage, seal in an airtight container, and store at room temperature.

*Omit for whiter icing (at the cost of diminished flavor)


Yield: 24 servings