Oscars: “Black and White Swans” (Swan-Shaped Black and White Cookies)

I’m black and white cookie fanatic, so this was a no-brainer.

OK, that’s not entirely true. I had a brief flirtation with the idea of doing some crazy choux pastry swans with chocolate pastry cream…before I realized I’d probably wind up looking like this by the end of a project like that.

Anyway, because of my abiding love for both B&W cookies and Baked Explorations, I’ve wanted to try that book’s recipe for the classic New York treat for ages. The swan shapes here are a little impressionistic (I piped them out in a hurry), but the cookie recipe is great even for non-Oscar nights.

Black and White Cookies (Adapted from Baked Explorations) (Makes about 18)

For the Cookies:
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks butter, cool but not cold
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon zest

For the Frosting:
3 3/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
4-5 tbsp. whole milk
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder (like Valrhona)**

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
3. Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and yolk, beating briefly between each addition.
4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk; you should end with flour. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest and beat for a few seconds.
5. Use a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop (or a large spoon – though your cookies won’t be perfectly round if you do this) and drop the dough onto the prepared sheets, leaving a couple of inches between cookies.
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and the tops spring back when pressed. Cool completely before frosting.
7. For the frosting: Whisk the sugar, cream, milk, and vanilla together until smooth. Place half of it in a second bowl, whisk in the cocoa, and add water one teaspoon at a time until the chocolate frosting is the same consistency as the white. Using a knife or offset spatula, frost half of each cookie surface with white frosting. Let the frosting set for 20 minutes, then frost the chocolate halves.

**I didn’t have any Valrhona sitting around, so I used 1/2 c. Hershey’s cocoa plus 1 tbsp. instant espresso powder to get a deeper, darker chocolate flavor. Worked really well!