grey matter – black & white sesame cookies

grey matter – black & white sesame cookies

I’ve lived in New York for many years, yet I’ve managed never to have taken a bite of one of those heavily frosted Black and White Cookies available in every deli in Manhattan. (The Black part is actually chocolate.) If you ever saw one of those cellophane-wrapped discs, you’d avoid them, too.

After 3 years of blogging, I’ve discovered that there can be such a thing as a good Black and White Cookie–it’s just a different species from what you see on the store counter next to the Slim Jim Beef Jerky.

Whenever I hear black and white, I have this vision of pure black and white as you’d see in fashion oe graphic design. When it comes to food, though, it’s difficult to achieve a true black unless you use food coloring (believe me, I’ve tried). I’m going to give myself a little slack–Grey and White is the new Black and White.

Black & White Sesame Cookies

Black and White Sesame Cookies


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black sesame powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame paste
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Black and White Icing
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (1 ounce) corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) coconut milk, plus more for thinning
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Canton (ginger liqueur) or water
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame paste


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 ℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sesame powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and continue mixing until well combined, about 30 seconds. Working in batches, add flour mixture; mix until well combined. Add coconut milk, sesame paste, vinegar, honey, lemon juice and vanilla; continue mixing until a dough forms, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Using a tablespoon or a 1-1/8″ ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack until completely cool.

Black and White Icing

1. Sift the powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Add in the salt, corn syrup, milk, vanilla and ginger liqueur. Whisk until smooth. Divide Icing evenly into 2 bowls.

2. Add sesame oil to one bowl of icing and stir to combine.

3. Using a small offset spatula, dip into glaze and lift to form a ribbon. Drape ribbon of glaze over each cookie to form a straight line down the center. Spread additional glaze to fill half of the cookies, down and over the edges. Place it on parchment lined baking sheet and let it dry for at least 15 minutes.

4. Add sesame paste to second bowl of icing and mix until smooth. If needed, add coconut milk or water, a tablespoon at a time, to make achieve the desired consistency.

5. Repeat Step 3 with the Black Sesame Icing.