Half Moon Cookies – Guest Post by Brad Nierenberg

Half moon cookies are such a staple here in the Northeast. So I was very excited to work with fellow blogger Brad Nierenberg and have him to a guest blog post on this classic. Like me, he cherishes his old family recipes and this is one for the books for sure. Here is what he had to say about them:

There are plenty of recipes for similar cookies, whether they are called half moon cookies or black and white cookies. All accounts agree they originated in the state of New York. The histories diverge as to whether they hail from The Big Apple or Upstate NY. Since my gram’s family never stepped foot in New York City, I would argue the best Half Moon Cookies hail from upstate (upstate is defined by non New Yorkers as anything north of New York City).

The half moon cookies laid out on the cookie sheet.
The half moon cookies laid out on the cookie sheet.

But even the recipes from upstate pale in comparison to the delicious cookies I grew up devouring because the others lack the rich flavor that comes with Gram’s secret ingredients – sour milk and molasses!

When the half moon cookies were done, they just needed to cool. Then they were frosted with vanilla and chocolate frosting to make them look like little half moons!
When the half moon cookies were done, they just needed to cool. Then I frosted them with vanilla and chocolate frosting to make them look like little half moons!

They are a little messy to eat, so I keep mine quite small in diameter. My gram was a firm believer that dessert was the best part of the meal, so she made them really big! I hope you all enjoy these gorgeous, cakey cookies as much as I do.

Half Moon Cookies
Half Moon Cookies

*Brad Nierenberg is a home cook who likes to share old family recipes to keep them alive. As a closet foodie, he tries plenty of new recipes out on family and friends too. Brad blogs about his cooking at brad | the | gourmand. Many thanks to him for this wonderful family recipe!

3.84 from 6 votes
Half Moon Cookies
Half Moon Cookies - Guest Post by Brad Nierenberg
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Course: Dessert
Servings: 8
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
  • 1/2cupmilk
  • 1tablespoonwhite vinegar
  • 2cupsflour
  • 1/2cupcocoa powder
  • 1teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1/2teaspoonsalt
  • 1stickbuttersoftened to room temperature
  • 1cupgranulated sugar
  • 2wholeeggs
  • 1/4cupmaple syrup
  • 1teaspoonvanilla extract
  • 1/2stickbuttersoftened to room temperature
  • 1/2teaspoonvanilla extract
  • 1/4teaspoonsalt
  • 2cupspowdered sugar
  • 3tablespoonsmilk
  • 1sticksalted butter
  • 2ouncesunsweetened bakers chocolate
  • 2/3cupsour cream
  • 1/3cupcocoa powder
  • 2teaspoonsvanilla extract
  • 2cupspowdered sugar
  1. First, make the sour milk for the cookies. It basically means it becomes buttermilk. Combine the milk and white vinegar in a bowl and mix them together well. Set it aside for 10 minutes. Then pre-heat the oven to 350 and line two sheet trays with silicone mats or parchment paper. Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set them aside as well.
  2. Set up a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and combine the butter and sugar in its bowl. Beat them together until fluffy. Pour in the two eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, and sour milk one at a time, letting each one get mixed in before pouring in the next. Finally, turn the speed to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients just until it becomes a dough.
  3. Use a cookie scoop to drop perfect little mounds of the dough evenly on the cookie sheets. The amount of cookies yielded will depend on how big you want the cookies. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until baked through and slightly crisp around the edges. Let them cool completely. While the cookies bake and cool, make the black and white frostings.
  4. You will need to wash out the stand mixer bowl and paddle attachment. Then start with the vanilla (white) buttercream. Beat the butter, vanilla and salt together in the mixer until it is fluffy. Turn the speed to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar until it becomes a luscious frosting. Then slowly pour in the milk to thin it out a bit and make it shiny. Transfer it to a bowl or container and set it aside. Then make the chocolate frosting, washing out the bowl and paddle attachment again.
  5. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Melt them together in the microwave for a minute and stir them together. If needed, microwave for another 30 seconds to make them completely smooth. Let it cool for a few minutes. Pour the ganache into the stand mixer bowl and mix it well with the sour cream, cocoa powder and vanilla. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Take the cooled cookies and frost each of them with vanilla frosting on one half and chocolate on the other half. Serve immediately!


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