January 15, 2005

The black-and-white cookie (as such) only exists in New York City, New Jersey, and probably in pockets of Westchester County and Long Island. I'm told that you can find them in Jewish delis in South Florida, in communities where most of the residents have migrated from -- yup -- New York and New Jersey. People from other parts of the world have posted about similar sightings in their home towns/countries. Out there the cookies have names like "half moon" and "half and half," and I say with no authority except raw instinct that I have no doubt they're bogus.

A real black-and-white is made like this:

-a base of spongy-yet-firm yellow cake, rounded into a cookie shape with a diameter of about six inches and a height of about three quarters of an inch (this is standard, but mileage varies)

-a bottom that's buttery and slightly oven-browned, but not at all crunchy

-one half vanilla icing (that's ICING, not frosting; it should be semi-glossy and have a smooth, solid surface, and should be applied conservatively so it just covers the top of the cookie and ends where the chocolate begins)

-one half chocolate frosting (that's FROSTING, the fudgy kind; apply it conservatively so it just covers the top of the cookie and ends where the vanilla begins)

-each flavor should have legs of its own to stand on, yet should be neither too sweet nor too bittersweet. A perfect bite will consist of three distinct tastes: the moistness of the cake, the sugar rush of the vanilla icing, and the richness of the chocolate frosting (which pulls it all together and keeps the sweetness of the vanilla from being cloying).

The best black-and-white I've tried yet is from Ponzio's (an unassuming yet well-regarded diner in Cherry Hill, NJ). We didn't make the trip down there specifically for the cookies -- we were headed to Philly for cheesesteaks -- but the B&W is one of our food obsessions and our never-ending search for the holy grail was encouraged along by a Ponzio's mention in SJ Magazine. Cherry Hill is a suburb of Philly, so even if the detour turned out to be a bust, hey, it's only a half-hour out of our lives. That said... the Ponzio's B&W was SPOT. FUCKING. ON. What made it even better was how good it tasted next to a bottomless cup of strong-ass diner coffee.

The ancient sign outside of Ponzio's:

The mighty Ponzio's B&W itself (worthier of a less-blurry picture, and there's one at Chris' blog):

Ponzio's is at 7 West Rt. 70 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Call 'em at (856) 428-4808.


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