Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At Last! Gluten Free Black & White Cookies

Half Moons, or B&W's

Yes indeed, the holidays are behind us and so is the massive cookie making effort. You know….the one where you make oodles of cookies for everyone but yourself.

Today’s gluten free treat is brought to you by Lulu and Phoebe. Just for you. Since the recipe makes just six cookies, don’t even think about sharing with the world.

These Black & Whites are one of our favorites. A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, in central New York State, there was a bakery called Snowflake. It is no longer there, but it was the bakery of my childhood and the one I dream about when I sleep and dream of cookies. It was one of those bakeries that made challah for Friday, the best rugelach, babka, and little tea cookies. They catered every Synagogue’s Oneg Shabbat, which is the social time after Friday evening services and my favorite reason for going (sorry, Rabbi L.). But truth be told, they made the best little bitty éclairs and puff pastry on this side of the planet. And if you hurried out of services you could be sure to get one before the big people (that would be adults) got them all.

Snowflake also made these cookies that were my favorite next to the rainbow cookies, which we will make someday soon. I had no idea when I was a kid that in NYC, from where they came, they were called Black & Whites. In that silly city in central NYS, they called them Half Moons. I still call them Half Moons. But if you order them from say, William Greenberg Bakery in NYC, they call them Black & Whites.

Lulu & Phoebe's B&Ws, not Greenbergs

And since life is gluten free around here, I had to figure out how to make them sans flour. This recipe works pretty well, and costs a fraction of what it might if you ordered them. If you do not need a gluten free cookie, this is still easy. Just substitute regular flour for the gluten free flour and leave out the xanthan gum. It is that simple.

It is January. Boring January. So get out the butter and chocolate and make yourself a treat. You deserve it.

cookie cast of characters

Ingredients: Cookies

1 ½ cups plus two tablespoons of gluten free flour

½ tspn of xanthan gum

¼ tspn of baking soda

½ tspn baking powder

pinch of salt

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup of shortening (I use the 0 trans fat Crisco), room temperature

¾ cup white sugar

¼ cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

few drops of almond extract

Ingredients: Glaze

3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons of corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla (if you can find the colorless stuff, all the better)

2 or more tablespoons of hot hot water

1 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, melted

2 tablespoons of unsweetened coca (sifted)

Directions: Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 with a rack in the center.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, the xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In a mixer bowl on low, blend the sugar and butter and Crisco together until mixed. Turn on high and beat until light and fluffy – about 3 minutes for a stand mixer and 5-6 minutes with a hand held one.

Add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and almond flavorings and blend quickly together.

On low, mix in the flour mixture slowly just until blended. Don’t over mix.

on low, mix in the flour mixture

Scrape down the sides and give it one more stir.

Scoop out 6 large scoops onto a silpat covered (or parchment) leaving lots of space in between. The scoop should be a generous ¼ cup size.

dough is ready to scoop
generous scoops, then flatten some

Flatten out the balls of dough with the back of a spoon or a small icing spatula into large circles. They will spread, but not much so you have to flatten them. If you leave them in a ball they will not spread enough at all and will look like 3-D moon cookies.

flat and naked B&Ws

Bake in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes and reverse the baking sheet. Bake for about 5-9 minutes more, or until the edges start to look brown. Cool. Then glaze.

glaze cast of characters

Directions: Glaze

Mix the sifted powdered sugar together with the corn syrup, vanilla, and hot water until it forms a runny glaze. Take half and put it in a separate bowl and add the cocoa and melted chocolate. Stir to mix thoroughly. Hint: sift the cocoa so there are no lumps.

making the glaze thin enough to pour

Using the back of a spoon or an icing spatula spread the vanilla on one half of the flat side of the cookie. Spread the chocolate on the other half.

this is the side you want to glaze
vanilla glazed, waiting for chocolate
pouring on the chocolate side

If the glaze gets too hard as you are working, stir in a bit more hot water. You want it to gently flow, but not run too much. Leave them on a rack until the glaze is set.

letting the glaze set

ready to eat! enjoy!


  1. I made these last night and they are AMAZING. Thanks for the step-by-step directions. I do believe great baking is as much about technique as the ingredients.

  2. Thank you! Great to know they worked for you. I do love those cookies. I agree - technique, espc for gluten free, is really important!

  3. These look delicious! I used to love them when I was younger. I was just lucky enough to find gluten-free (mini) black and white cookies from Oberlander's in the grocery store for Passover, but I may just need to try your recipe.

  4. Thank you Lisa. I wish we could find more gluten free stuff like that in our groceries! Hope they taste great, but if not, be sure to try these. They taste like the originals.

  5. hi
    I cant wait to try making these for my son. Which brand of gluten free flour mix do you use??

  6. If you click on the 2/17 post you will find my favorite resources including the flour. I love Authentic Foods gf flours. I use the featherweight blend for cakes and these cookies and the classic blend for regular cookies. However, I ran out of the classic and have only been using the featherweight, and I like how the recipes are coming out. Hope that helps. Enjoy the cookies - one of our favorites.

  7. oops. Featherlight, not featherweight. And you will find it under flour blends on the Authentic Foods website. Blends work better than just plain rice flour. The post is titled: Our Favorite Resources.

  8. A couple of questions:

    1. Do you think I could make these cookies smaller so as to end up with more of them out of one recipe? I love the big ones, but I have a toddler and thought small ones could be good.

    2. Do you think I can use a hand mixer (I don't own a stand mixer)?


  9. Bailey,

    Yes you can make them smaller and a hand mixer will work just fine. Just scoop with a smaller measure and make sure they are pretty much the same size so they bake evenly. No problem at all. Watch the baking time - it will be shorter. And remember - GF cookies don't brown very much. Enjoy!