Well, I guess we could have all seen it coming: with the last month of the national food holiday calendar, and it being holiday season no less, we have a ton of holidays relating to sweets! There hasn’t been a day yet where you couldn’t indulge in something sweet and dessert-y this month, and we won’t for another two days, when we finally can get something savory in our bellies haha. Today is National Cookie Day, the celebration of those little biscuit-y, cake-y treats that span the culinary globe and timeline. Derived from the Dutch word for “little cake,” a cookie differs in every location you order one, from the size and shape to the ingredients used, the softness of the cookie, and even if it’s baked at all! Making sweet cookies for desserts originated in Persia in the 7th century with the popularization of sugar–and it spread throughout the world from there, because who doesn’t love a good cookie? 😀 And there are so many varieties to love: bar cookies like brownies, molded cookies, baked and no-bake cookies, and don’t forget cookies with stuffed sandwiched between cookies…! There are just so many cookie varieties out there, it would be impossible for me to list them all. There’s a reason there’s a whole aisle in the grocery store dedicated just to boxes of cookies!
Like National Cake Day and National Pie Day before it, we’ve had a lot of individual cookies we’ve celebrated on separate days before National Cookie Day came around. Here’s a list of those food holidays and recommendations for where to get the best cookies in New York City:
January 16 – Fig Newton Day
February 11 – Peppermint Pattie Day
March 18 – Oatmeal Cookie Day
April 9 – Chinese Almond Cookie Day
April 18 – National Animal Crackers Day
May 31 – National Macaroon Day
June 12 – National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
June 23 – National Pecan Sandy Day
July 1 – National Gingersnap Day
July 2 – National Anisette Day
July 3 – Chocolate Wafer Day
July 9 – National Sugar Cookie Day
July 20 – Fortune Cookie Day
August 2 – National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
And this isn’t even mentioning the days I highlighted cookies for a food holiday that incorporated that food holiday’s ingredient into them. That’s a lot of cookies to nom up! So I wanted to use National Cookie Day to focus on a cookie that is near and dear to every New Yorker’s heart:
The Black and White cookie!
Although there’s some question as to where the black and white cookie originated–either down in New York City or in upstate New York–they’ve become synonymous with New York cuisine, even landing a spot on Wikipedia’s New York City foods list. The black-and-white (or, if you insist on being from upstate, a half-moon cookie) consists of a simple cake-like or shortbread cookie, iced on one half of the face with vanilla fondant and the other half with dark chocolate. How you eat them is all up to you: you can take one bite out of each side to make it even, like Jerry Seinfeld did in his famous TV show, or eat all of one side before making it over to the other. When baked fresh and right, the black-and-white brings such a homey, comforting feeling to any New Yorker, from the first bite right down to the last crumbs. And they also come in any size you like, from bite-sized tiny cookies to black-and-whites bigger than your head! I can’t think of any cookie that brings to mind the spirit of New York City more than a black-and-white 🙂
Whether you start on the black or the white side, one of the best places to sink your teeth into a black-and-white is William Greenberg Desserts. This Upper East Side institution has been baking black-and-whites since 1946–and they’ve been using the same winning recipe of cakey cookie and chocolate and vanilla flavored fondant ever since. Their website likens them to “someone sat on a cupcake” to bring in all the transplants who go ga-ga over cupcakes of any kind, but born and bred New Yorkers know the importance of this cookie whether or not you advertise. The cookies come in two sizes: small, and large, and when we say large, I hope you brought your appetite, because this “large” cookie is definitely worth the price! Special orders can also be made via their website, where mini black-and-whites can be made custom for any occasion–like, say, a baby shower with pink- or blue-and-whites. Black-and-white cookies may be ubiquitous throughout New York City bakeries and delis, but no one in the whole city makes them like William Greenberg Desserts.
William Greenberg Desserts
1100 Madison Ave
“New Yorkers are fiercely loyal to this quintessential regional confection. Sophisticated black and white cookies have been fashioned by hand and made fresh daily at Manhattan’s William Greenberg Bakery since 1946. These classic cookies, voted “Best of New York,” are delicious comfort treats etched into the childhood memories of New Yorkers. They are legendary, they are mythical, but above all they are supremely delicious. If you didn’t grow up in New York, chances are you’ve never tasted the cake-like texture topped with matching half moons of dark chocolate and vanilla icing. The black and white cookie is, in fact, not a cookie but a flat, thinly frosted cake, like someone has sat on a cupcake. Cookie convenience, cupcake taste. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy them.”–William Greenberg Desserts
“$3.50 may seem a little steep for a cookie, but Greenberg’s Black & White is worth every penny. Perhaps, it’s the silky vanilla or chocolate fondant. Then again, it could be the cake-like cookie. It’s the best black & white in the city. End of story.”–Restaurant Girl
“The problem with most black and white cookies is that they are dry, crumbly, and taste of neither chocolate nor vanilla. But those at William Greenberg taste like a flat birthday cake–moist and airy yellow cake with your choice of vanilla or chocolate ganache-like frosting. It’s everything a cupcake could be but usually isn’t–portable, fluffy, and delicious. The cookies come in both regular (gigantic) and small sizes–I’d recommend gigantic.”–The Village Voice
“Whether you prefer them in their normal, generous size or the mini version, the cookies at William Greenberg Bakery take the prize for best frosting — it doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the cookie, and it’s not sickeningly sweet. They’ve been baking them fresh here since 1946, so its no wonder they’ve got the B&Ws down to an art”–Gridskipper
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Last week, me and the BF decided to take a stroll in the park to get the supposed “best black and white cookies” in all of NYC. Eight miles and six days later, and we finally got around to eating them at the right appropriate time. I gotta say, my BF’s claims were definitely on point. The black and white melted in my mouth so perfectly like a confectionery present, rewarding me on getting through this hell week. I’d walk sixteen miles for this cookie if I had to.”–Jess B.
“Simply put, hands down the best Black and White Cookie I have ever tasted in my time living in New York. Now we are about to move out of our rental apartment in the hopes of returning to buy a place in the city, I had to make a quick visit to William Greenberg Desserts for the infamous Black and White Cookie. I am not sure what it is, but the cookie reminds me of the kind of cookies I had back in my childhood and it brings back sweet memories. Not sure if I would make a special visit here, however, if I am in the area, visiting friends or going to the Metropolitan Museum, I will make sure to stop in and eat one of these classics!”–Brandon I.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!